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Habitat exceeds $25-million tsunami relief goal

Donor generosity pushes Habitat past $25-milllion tsunami recovery goal
CEO says funds, number of homes will be raised given the scope of need

AMERICUS, Ga. (March 7, 2005) – Habitat for Humanity International announced today that it has surpassed the $25-million fund-raising goal it initially set to house 25,000 families over the next two years in the tsunami-ravaged areas of Thailand, Sri Lanka, India and Indonesia.

But Paul Leonard, chief executive officer, said that given new revelations of the scope of the damage and the dire circumstances families are in, Habitat will continue to accept and dedicate pledges to tsunami relief as long as needed, and that the ministry has raised its sights to help even more families, pushing to 35,000 the number of families it will house as part of the relief and rebuilding effort.

To date, Habitat has received funds and commitments totaling $29,878,345. In addition, reports have identified another $10,712,637 in potential funds for the relief effort that are being pursued.

“Over the past two months we have been blessed to have the support of corporate partners, individuals and other organizations from around the world to help us help the people in need,” said Leonard. “As a result of this support, we have pushed past our goal of $25 million and many families are already moving into their new homes and beginning to rebuild their lives.

“But too many are still in camps where they are open to the elements, weather, disease, serious overcrowding. We have been working in the region for many years and we have many, many years of work ahead of us. We will be there so long as there is a family without simple, decent shelter.”

In addition to houses, Habitat is building “disaster response technical centers,” which provide technical expertise and assistance to families, Habitat affiliates and partners. Ultimately, the centers will become full-blown building and technical centers, “social businesses” that teach people the skills for making their own homes as well as producing affordable building materials such as compressed earth blocks, roofing tiles, doors, windows and frames.

“Some of our building and training centers are already in full operation, supplying materials, training homeowners and volunteers, and providing much-needed employment to those who lost jobs or wage-earners as a result of the tsunami,” said Leonard.

Of the $29-million total, $12 million came from the Asia-Pacific area, nearly $4 million came from Europe and Central Asia and more than $13 million came from the United States and Canada.

“Every dollar donated to tsunami relief will go to support our ongoing efforts in this devastated region,” said Leonard. “The needs are great, and our commitment to provide housing, comfort and support to those in need is unwavering.”

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 and are buying through no-profit, zero-interest mortgages.