HFH Vietnam Also Holds First Test Build In Hai Duong Province
BANGKOK, 2nd September 2009: With slightly more than two months to go before the 2009 Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project, the pace is intensifying at the main site in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand. Habitat for Humanity Thailand completed a second test build recently while preparations are underway for a third test build in end-September. Over in Vietnam, Habitat staff also completed the first test build in Hai Duong province, southeast of the capital Hanoi.
In Chiang Mai, all the sanitary works have been installed for the 82 homes which will be built during the CWP while the first rows of interlocking blocks have been laid on the majority of the plots. Construction work on the community center began at the end of August. The second test build was completed recently in Muang Len community, about 1 km. away from the village of Nong Gon Kru, the CWP build site in Chiang Mai. Nong Gon Kru is some 20 kilometers north of Chiang Mai city.
Staff from HFH Thailand’s Habitat Resource Center North in Chiang Mai worked together with construction workers and volunteers Donald Taylor, John Lindsey, Andy Nelson, Jennifer Lindsey and their nephew Andrew Entsminger, on holiday from Topeka, Kansas, USA.
The new house is a welcome change for Sivapar Ninprahyoon’s family of three who are living in a former chicken coop. “It is small, hot and has little room. For years we dreamed of having our own home but never could save the money to build this home,” said 38-year-old Sivapar who works as an auto mechanic in Chiang Mai. His wife, Patcharin, 37, works in a bakery. The couple’s monthly income averages 14,000 baht (US$413). They have a nine-year-old daughter, Nachaya.
Just like the houses which will be built during the Carter Work Project, Sivapar’s new home is made of concrete interlocking blocks with a steel roof frame and corrugated fiber cement roof. A thrilled Sivapar said: “I can’t believe that I am helping to build my own house.”
Fernando Morales, Habitat’s manager for appropriate construction technologies, Asia-Pacific, said: “We did make some changes for this second test build over the first one in May. We added 353 more blocks, adding more height to the house overall, changing the design to the roof framing and added a flush toilet to the second house.
“With one more test build scheduled for late September, we will make some additional changes to ensure the construction of the 82 houses goes smoothly from start to finish.”
Donald Taylor, Habitat’s volunteer programs manager in the Asia-Pacific region, said: “We are expecting 2,200 to 2,500 volunteers from over 30 countries to build the houses in Chiang Mai during the JRCWP.” According to Taylor, the volunteers will be from the US, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, India, Malaysia, the UK, Ireland as well as from other European and Central Asian countries.
“One of the biggest challenges for the volunteers, who will be working with the cement interlocking blocks, is making sure the blocks are level as they set. If the levels can be checked frequently, this will make it easier as the walls go up.”
On the fifth and the last day of the second test build, the Habitat home partner’s daughter summed up the significance of the newly completed house. Nachaya said: “Since the old house is very small, I have been staying with my grandparents in their house. Now with the new home I can stay with my parents.”
Being able to invite her school friends home for a visit was out of the question previously. Now she has no qualms about showing off her home. “This is a very special day for me.”
Before the second test build was held, the governor of Chiang Mai Amonphan Nimanan and local government officials visited the main project site. The governor also joined families in planting 2,552 saplings in neighboring communities in honor of the 77th birthday of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit in August. (The year 2009 is year 2552 in the Buddhist calendar).
The first test build  in Chiang Mai was carried out in May with the help of a team of US volunteers. In addition, Thailand hosted a two-day build in the Bangkok area for existing donors, as well as confirmed and potential donors for the Carter Work Project. Volunteers included executives from Bangkok Bank, Bank of Ayutthaya, Government Housing Bank, Amway Thailand, Ramon Land, Thai Beverage, American Standard Thailand, Siam City Group, and numerous others.
Over in Hai Duong province, staff members of Habitat for Humanity Vietnam have completed the first test build for the FISH project. Dubbed FISH (For Improvements in Sanitation-water-Housing), the project was launched in late June 2009 in Ke Sat town, Binh Giang district.
The fishing families in Ke Sat will partner with HFH Vietnam and both international and local volunteers during the Carter Work Project in November to build 40 homes on land provided by the government. The FISH project is part of a three-year project by HFH Vietnam to provide access to safe and affordable housing for nearly 300 poor families currently living in slums or fishing boats.
Earlier, Habitat for Humanity Cambodia launched its part of the 2009 Carter Work Project  with about 40 guests attending the event held in a Phnom Penh hotel. Guests included US Ambassador Carol Rodley, who had led a 13-member team to volunteer at the CWP site in Oudong, Kandal province, and deputy governor of Kandal province Kol Sam-Ol. Representatives from local and multinational corporations and local universities were also present.
Daimler Financial Services, the global financial services provider of German car manufacturer Daimler, contributed more than 24,500 euros (US$34,010) to the Cambodian site for the Carter Work Project. The contribution, made through Habitat for Humanity Germany, will help build 21 new houses in Oudong for families currently living on a garbage dump.
The China segment of the Carter Work Project will involve Habitat’s support for an urban initiative in Qionglai City, about 90 km from Sichuan’s capital city of Chengdu. HFH China is supporting the construction of seven multi-story buildings which will serve as home to 402 families when completed. Volunteers during the 2009 JRCWP will work on constructing the walls for units on the first floor of three of the buildings – as well as supporting other appropriate construction activities.
A fund- raising committee has been formed in Hong Kong and the group has embarked on an ambitious target to support this project. HFH China recently set up a booth at Cathay Pacific City, Cathay Pacific Airways’ corporate headquarters at Hong Kong International Airport. Publicity materials on the Carter Work Project were on display and interested members of the public enquired about joining the project as volunteers. Volunteers for the 2009 JRCWP are being recruited from various locations in China and will be joined by a small group of international volunteers. During this week, HFH China will also highlight its efforts in response to the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.
Separately, HFH China’s goodwill ambassador, Hong Kong actress/singer Karen Mok, designed a tote bag in aid of the CWP. Local bag retailer FX Creations will donate sale proceeds toward HFH China for the CWP.
Laos is another country which is part of the Carter Work Project. In November, volunteers will work to repair 20 homes in the Vientiane area. These repairs will include roof and wall repair; and improvements to water and sanitation facilities. This is the launch of an effort to reach many more families in the capital region. Most of the volunteers for this effort are being recruited locally in Laos.