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Habitat for Humanity’s tsunami rebuilding in Indonesia receives official recognition

BANGKOK, July 23, 2007: Habitat for Humanity’s on-going program of rebuilding homes with families affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that swept across the west coast of Indonesia’s Sumatra island has received an award from the Indonesian government.

This month, two-and-a-half years after the deadly disaster, Habitat’s local team was recognized for being a resilient non-government organization able to deliver on its commitment to the people of the area.

The award was presented by the governor of Aceh province, Irwandi Yusuf, and Kuntoro Mangkusubruto, director of Badan Rekonstruksi dan Rehabilitasi (Agency for Reconstruction and Rehabilitation, known as BRR), the central agency overseeing the rehabilitation and reconstruction. Accepting the award was Tots Escalada, director of Habitat’s tsunami rebuilding project in Indonesia.

The text on the plaque, written in a local Aceh dialect, reads “Thank you very much – from the people of Aceh Jaya, province of Aceh.” Habitat was one of two NGOs recognized from more than 50 non-government organizations working in the region.

Receiving the award reflects a strategic move in Habitat’s future. In recent years, Habitat has been building up its capability to respond to both natural and man-made disasters.

“As an organization with experience providing simple, decent and affordable homes, we possess the right skill set and desire to help rehabilitate damaged homes or build permanent housing after a disaster; and offer technical and organizational expertise in the rebuilding process,” said Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International.

Beyond tsunami-related projects, Habitat has responded to hurricanes, typhoons, earthquakes, landslides, floods and conflicts with disaster rebuilding initiatives in many countries around the world, including the U.S. Gulf Coast (hurricanes Katrina and Rita), Lebanon, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Philippines and Solomon Islands.

“Our tsunami commitment is a long-term one, as the rebuilding of homes and communities after a disaster, takes time,” said Steve Weir, vice-president for Habitat’s Asia-Pacific operations. “It is more than the physical structure of doors, walls and roofing, but having programs in place that go far in reducing the devastating effects of poverty.”

Habitat’s community-based disaster response model calls for a high level of community participation from village leaders and affected families in making decisions and the use of local resources.

Altogether, Habitat’s tsunami-rebuilding program in Indonesia has assisted more than 4,000 families build, rehabilitate and repair homes with a further 2,000 more expected to benefit by the end of 2008. By then, Habitat is expecting to have assisted some 21,000 families in tsunami-affected areas of Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand find permanent housing. Most recently, Habitat for Humanity Indonesia marked its 1,500th house built in response to the tsunami in Meulaboh, on the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia.

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 1976, Habitat has built more than 225,000 houses worldwide, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than 1 million people. For more information, visit www.habitat.org.