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Habitat for Humanity seeks shelter solutions for tsunami victims

Habitat for Humanity develops temporary shelter
for thousands left homeless by Asian tsunami

AMERICUS, Ga. (Jan. 3, 2005) – Habitat for Humanity in Sri Lanka is working with other organizations to develop a prototype core shelter for the tens of thousands of families left homeless following the Dec. 26 tsunami. The prototype is a 120 square foot single-room house that can be expanded with additional rooms over time.

“Initial assessments indicate that the foundations of many homes seem to be fine, but anything above the foundations was destroyed,” said Tony Senewiratne, Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka director. “Using materials from some of the damaged homes, we could likely build some of the core houses for as little as US$100.”

Habitat for Humanity has been operating in Sri Lanka since 1994. The program supports 4,800 Habitat families (approximately 24,000 people) throughout the island. More than 2,000 Habitat families and 2,628 participants of Habitat’s Save and Build program are in areas hardest hit by the tsunami: Galle, Matara, Hambantota, Batticaloa, Wattala and Trincomalee. In Batticaloa alone, at least 20 Habitat homes were destroyed, and some homeowners are still missing. Assessments are continuing in and around Galle, Matara and Hambantota and Wattala.

“Our first priority is to assist the existing Habitat homeowners and the Save and Build members and then turn our attention to the millions more who are in need of a safe, decent place to live,” Senewiratne said.

Habitat for Humanity has a presence in six of the affected countries – Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, Malaysia and Bangladesh. As in Sri Lanka, the organization is working with local Habitat offices and international partner organizations in all the countries to assess and respond to the needs.

“The priority now is for food, water, medicine and immediate shelter. There are many competent and experienced aid agencies acting now to meet these critical needs,” said Paul Leonard, chief executive officer for Habitat for Humanity International. “Habitat is providing help where needed in this area and is working to develop long-term plans for reconstruction to put people back in homes and help rebuild their lives.”

The organization has launched an emergency appeal to help facilitate the response.

To contribute:
Habitat for Humanity International
Asia Tsunami Response Fund
121 Habitat Street
Americus, GA 31709-3498
1-800-HABITAT (800-422-4828)

About Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity International is a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry that seeks to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness from the world, and to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action.
Through volunteer labor and donations of money and materials, Habitat builds and rehabilitates simple, decent houses with the help of the homeowner (partner) families. Habitat has built more than 175,000 houses around the world, providing more than 900,000 people in more than 3,000 communities with safe, decent, affordable shelter.

Habitat’s Disaster Response Office works to rebuild the future for victims of war and natural disasters worldwide. Disaster Response empowers and works with families in building recovery housing; with the goal of putting communities back on their feet and helping them stay there. The Disaster Response Office has assisted families affected by Hurricane Mitch in Central America and in the war-torn country of Afghanistan.