Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter visits Habitat for Humanity tsunami-recovery homes in Thailand
The Carters present a copy of a children’s book the former president wrote to the new village library during their tour of Thachatchai, Phuket province. The gift was accepted by two girls from the village.
The Carters and U.S. ambassador to Thailand Ralph Boyce watch Habitat homeowner Veerayuth “Gob” Namchan pour a mixture of soil, sand and cement into a hand block-making machine in Thachatchai, Phuket province.
THACHATCHAI, Thailand, (Nov. 1, 2006) - Former U.S. President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, were in southern Thailand today to visit a fishing village where Habitat for Humanity has built dozens of new homes since the deadly 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. The Carters met with members of the local community, many of whom traditionally rely on the sea for their livelihoods.
Earlier in the week, the Carters kicked off the annual Habitat for Humanity Jimmy Carter Work Project, which is taking place near Mumbai, India. The Carters also toured a Habitat for Humanity tsunami-rebuilding project in Chennai on India’s east coast before arriving in Thailand.
In Thachatchai, on Phuket Island, Habitat for Humanity has built 91 houses and repaired five others. Many of the community’s low-income fishermen and day laborers lived in poorly constructed houses that were easily damaged by high water during the tsunami.
The Carters were accompanied by Habitat for Humanity International’s CEO Jonathan Reckford and Nic Retsinas, chair of Habitat’s international board of directors.
“Our village is much smaller than yours, but all of our hearts went out to you during that terrible time. We shared your grief, and we also share your determination to restore your life after the tsunami,” President Carter told villagers assembled in a new community building. Earlier the Carters visited a block-making operation that resulted from Habitat’s tsunami-recovery house building, toured a neighborhood and chatted with two families in their homes.
“I am deeply moved and inspired by the collective resolve communities had to overcome the 2004 tsunami,” said Reckford on the visit to Thailand. “Habitat for Humanity continues its work throughout this region, and so many people continue to demonstrate their compassion for one another.”
After their visit to Thailand, the Carters returned to India to continue building homes on the Habitat for Humanity JCWP site. They are among more than 2,000 volunteers who are building 100 houses in Lonavala, near Mumbai, Oct. 29, - Nov. 3.
The Habitat homes in India are being built in partnership with low-income families who currently live in dilapidated and temporary housing. The need for housing in India is dire, since nearly a quarter of its 1.1 billion population live on less than US$1 per day. Habitat for Humanity has been at work in India since 1983 building and renovating nearly 12,000 homes, plus providing an additional 1,700 homes in tsunami-affected areas, making it one of the home-building organization’s largest country programs.
This year’s JCWP is associated with Habitat for Humanity India’s indiaBUILDS program. The five-year campaign plans to engage 1 million volunteers in helping to provide shelter in partnership with 250,000 people. The campaign also seeks to raise funds for a sustainable revolving fund worth US$50 million.
The Carters are Habitat’s most famous volunteers. Each year since 1984, the Carters have given one week of their time to build homes and raise awareness about the need for simple, decent and affordable housing. Previous JCWP events have been held in New York City, Georgia, Michigan, the Philippines, Hungary, South Korea and South Africa. Habitat’s JCWP 2007 will be in Los Angeles, California, USA.
For more information about Habitat for Humanity’s Jimmy Carter Work Project, visit www.habitat.org/jcwp/2006/.
Major partners in this year’s Jimmy Carter Work project include Citigroup, Dow India, Vedanta Resources, Posco India, Whirlpool Corporation, Cisco, HDFC Ltd., Aditya Birla Group and Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.
About Habitat for Humanity in Asia/Pacific and Thailand
In the Asia/Pacific region, Habitat for Humanity has built, renovated and repaired approximately 35,000 homes, providing better accommodation for 175,000 people around the region. In addition, 20,000 to 35,000 families are expected to benefit from Habitat programs to help victims of the 2004 tsunami.
Habitat for Humanity Thailand was founded in 1998. The organization has built more than 1,400 houses in partnership with families in 11 provinces. Habitat Thailand plans to build more than 2,000 houses during 2007.
About Habitat for Humanity International
Habitat for Humanity International is an ecumenical Christian ministry that welcomes to its work all people dedicated to the cause of eliminating poverty housing. Since its founding in Americus, Ga., in 1976, Habitat has built more than 200,000 houses in nearly 100 countries, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than 1 million people. For more information, visit www.habitat.org.