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India to host Jimmy Carter Work Project 2006

India selected to host Jimmy Carter Work Project 2006

AMERICUS, Ga. (Feb. 22, 2005) – Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Paul Leonard, Habitat for Humanity International chief executive officer, announced today that they will travel to India in October 2006 to join volunteers from around the world to help build houses with families in need during the 23rd annual project named in the former president’s honor.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate, along with his wife Rosalynn and Habitat for Humanity staff and volunteers will help build homes in partnership with local families in need in Mumbai (Bombay).

Habitat for Humanity has been working in India since 1983 and to date has built more than 10,280 homes. This will be the third Jimmy Carter Work Project in Habitat’s Asia-Pacific region: Projects were staged in the Philippines in 1999 and South Korea in 2001.

“Rosalynn and I have enjoyed working with Habitat for Humanity for more than two decades,” said President Carter. “We look forward to going to India to build houses with families in need.”

Currently, Habitat is continuing to work in India in the wake of the tragic Dec. 26 tsunami that struck many countries in the Indian Ocean basin. Habitat for Humanity India is focusing on the hard-hit coastal areas of Tamil Nadu state, south of the state capital of Chennai, where an estimated 10,000 people were killed by the tsunami. President Carter will visit the community during the 2006 work project.

HFH India is working with the Discipleship Center, an established partner that has a substantial relief effort under way in the Chennai area. Plans are to under way to provide transitional housing for up to 6,000 families in the first building phase, and disaster response technical centers – where families will be taught skills to help them build their homes and to produce construction materials such as block and tile – will be located in Pondicherry, Nagapattinam, Cuddalore and Kanyakumari, possibly based out of current Discipleship Center distribution centers. Each center would support up to 1,000 families.

Since the first Jimmy Carter Work Project in New York City in 1984, President Carter has been drawn to Habitat for Humanity’s efforts to bring hope to people and areas others have abandoned. In 2004, the Carters worked with volunteers to build 150 homes in Puebla and Veracruz, Mexico, and this year the couple will lead Michigan in a statewide effort to build 230 homes.

Selecting India was a natural for President Carter, whose mother Lillian Carter, known and beloved by many, joined the Peace Corps when she was 67 and traveled to India to work with the people there. In her own words, Miss Lillian was just taking the Corps advertising campaign at face value – “age is no barrier.”

Then, in 1978, during his presidency, Mr. Carter traveled to a small village, Chuma Kheragaon, in the Haryana area of India. So impressed and pleased were the villagers at the president’s and first lady’s visit, they rechristened the village Carterpuri, in his honor. To this day, the villagers celebrate Jan. 3, the day of his visit, every year.

“Habitat has had great success with our program in India,” said Leonard, “and we are honored to be able to help in the aftermath of the terrible toll of the tsunami. As we have said so many times, the need there – as with everywhere – is so great, that the response must be long term.

“Having the Jimmy Carter Work Project in India in 2006 will mean new homes for families, but just as important, it will increase awareness and support for Habitat’s work in India and elsewhere and will encourage people, the religious community, industry and the government to come together to address the problem of poverty housing.

“India’s need is great, and this project will not resolve that; but it will be another step in our long but determined journey to erase poverty housing from the face of the earth.”

President Carter’s longstanding relationship with Habitat for Humanity began in 1984, when he donated one day of his carpentry skills and manual labor at a work site in Americus, Ga., home to Habitat’s international headquarters. Later that same year, the Carters led their first weeklong work project, renovating a six-story, 19-unit building in New York City. The Carters have personally worked on Habitat homes that house more than 10,000 people around the world.

About Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity International, based in Americus, Ga., is an ecumenical Christian ministry dedicated to eliminating poverty housing. By the end of 2005, Habitat will have built its 200,000th house and more than one million people will be living in Habitat homes they helped build. www.habitat.org