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Habitat for Humanity celebrates the 50,001st house in Africa and Middle East

LILONGWE, MALAWI, (April 24, 2008) – Habitat for Humanity celebrated the completion of its 50,001st house in the Africa and Middle East region today in Lilongwe, Malawi. The celebration was preceded by three days of building where homeowners, community members and corporate and church volunteers worked together to build six homes in Lilongwe.

Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International, spoke at the event. The guest of honor for the day’s celebration was Honorable Chimuntu Banda, minister of Transport, Public Works and Housing, who cut the ribbon to the new houses and dedicated the 250 houses that were completed in December 2007. Community members also took part in the celebration with dances and dramatic performances. Children from the area recited poems they wrote for the event.

“I am delighted to be here to join in this momentous occasion. Last month, we celebrated the 50,000th house in Africa and the Middle East in Egypt, and today we are celebrating the 50,001st in Lilongwe,” said Reckford. “It is a fitting illustration of the great strides Habitat for Humanity is making through this region, working in partnership with God, our partners and the local communities to lift families out of poverty through homeownership. In celebrating this great accomplishment, we recognize that there is much more to do here, across this region and around the world to ensure that families have a place to call home.”

In Malawi, where 65 percent of the population lives below the national poverty line and 42 percent live on less than $1 per day, the need for improved housing is great. In rural and urban areas alike, Malawians live in substandard conditions that undermine their health and their educational and economic opportunities.

Habitat for Humanity Malawi has worked to eliminate poverty housing in the country since 1986 and has succeeded in helping provide decent, affordable housing to more than 6,000 families. In 2002, Habitat Malawi piloted innovative programs, including “Building in Stages” and “Home Improvement Loans” programs, which continue to benefit communities. The Building in Stages program allows homeowners the opportunity to improve their living conditions gradually, by building onto their homes incrementally. The Home Improvement Loan program helps families repair existing homes. Habitat Malawi’s approach helps make improved housing more affordable to low-income families, while also helping HFHM grow its reach.

Habitat Malawi’s achievements have helped instill hope in the lives of the families with which it works.

“It has been my dream for a long time to build a house for my family, but I had to wait because I couldn’t afford it,” said James Kapera, a Habitat homeowner. “The moment I brought my family to our new home and saw the expression on their faces made me feel very happy. It was the proudest moment of my life.”

About Habitat for Humanity Africa and the Middle East
Habitat for Humanity International has been working to build decent, affordable housing throughout the Africa and Middle East region since the first house was built in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1979. Today, Habitat for Humanity Africa and the Middle East works in 22 countries throughout the region.

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 250,000 houses worldwide, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than 1 million people. For more information, visit www.habitat.org.