September 25, 2004
TOKYO, 25th September 2004: The Habitat vision of a world without poverty housing is set to be shared with millions of people from Japan and around the world next year. Habitat for Humanity International has been invited to participate in EXPO 2005, in Aichi, Japan. The organizers expect up to 15 million people to visit this enormous “World’s Fair” during its six-month run from 25th March to 25th September
A new international airport, trains and trams networks are among the massive infrastructure projects that have already been built to support the exhibition in Aichi. Aichi is an industrial city between Tokyo and Osaka. Most top Japanese brand names are exhibiting, with many taking complete pavilions to show off their vision of the exhibition’s theme, “Global Harmony” (www-0.expo2005.or.jp/en ).
The sizable Habitat display, designed to look like a Habitat house, is to be sited prominently in the EXPO Citizen’s Pavilion open area.
The thrust of the Habitat display is to show the misery of poverty housing and how Habitat – and its hundreds of thousands of supporters and volunteers – transforms lives by providing proper shelter.
A specific objective will be to raise awareness of poverty housing issues among visitors, most of whom are expected to be from Japan, and also to mobilize Japanese interest in supporting Habitat’s activities.
“EXPO 2005 represents a fabulous opportunity to highlight the Habitat vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live,” said Tetsuo Nakajima, Chairman of HFH Japan.
“We are particularly looking forward to exposing millions of people from Japan and else
where in Asia to the reality of the Habitat mission. And we hope many of them will leave fired up to support our work either in Japan or overseas.”
HFH Japan’s main activities are raising awareness, advocacy, and mobilizing funds and volunteers. It supports the work of eleven Habitat campus chapters operating in Japan and the increasing number of teams of volunteers – about 50 a year involving a total of some 900 participants – going overseas to build Habitat homes.
The Habitat display at EXPO 2005 features “poverty housing” where visitors will experience the sights and sounds of a typical slum. This will be created through large-scale photographs and visual effects along with a sound track. Visitors will then enter a simulated Habitat house that will feature different styles of materials used in typical habitat homes. In the final section, visitors will learn about ways they can be involved through volunteering for overseas work teams, or fund raising and other activities within Japan.
The display area is being designed by a professional Japanese architect (who wishes to remain anonymous at this stage) who is donating his time.
Local volunteers from HFH Japan will man the stand along with volunteers from the Japan Baptist Mission, which is supporting Habitat’s display. The Japan Baptist Missionaries or Southern Baptists has been in Japan for 100 years.
The EXPO 2005 committee is providing a start-up grant of US$15,000 to help build the “permanent” house display.
HFH national offices and volunteers as well as corporate supporters are being encouraged to use the opportunity of Habitat’s participation for marketing, public relations and other activities.