Americus, Ga., July 18, 2001 - Habitat for Humanity International and World Vision are working together to help rebuild homes and lives for more than 1,300 people in India, who were left without a place to live following a devastating earthquake in January.
Construction will begin this week on more than 650 houses in the Gujarat State in western India. The epicenter of the quake struck there on January 26th, killing at least 40,000 people. Officials estimate that it will cost about $2.5 million to build simple, decent homes for the people of Kutch. The toll across India is much higher, with $5 billion required to repair the damage to homes, businesses and lives.
"Our role is in developing a long-term solution to the disaster," said Steven Weir, Habitat for Humanity's International vice president for the Asia-Pacific region. "Typically, in disasters like this, Habitat works in collaboration with relief agencies, government officials and local communities for self-help through homebuilding."
Habitat for Humanity International is a non-profit, ecumenical Christian organization dedicated to eliminating poverty housing worldwide. Habitat has built more than 120,000 homes for more than 600,000 people in 80 countries.
Habitat is working alongside World Vision, one of the largest, privately-funded Christian relief and development organizations in the world, serving 85 million people annually in nearly 100 countries. Together, the two charities are hoping to help as many people as they can find shelter.
"We're grateful for the expertise and vision that Habitat brings to the project," said Richard E. Stearns, World Vision vice-president. "These homes will represent an important step in helping families in this devastated area recover - physically, economically and emotionally."
Habitat for Humanity volunteers will build alongside homeowners, who will fulfill "sweat equity" requirements working on their homes, as well as the homes of their neighbors. The homeowners will then pay off a zero-interest, non-profit mortgage. The houses will be built in two stages: the first stage will ensure that every family has a room to provide permanent shelter, and will lay the foundation for a second-stage expansion. An assessment will be made of the families' repayment abilities through nominal payments over a number of years.
Habitat's home designs will incorporate earthquake mitigation features, Weir said. World Vision will hire local residents to remove debris and help with construction.
Habitat for Humanity International has built more than 5,000 homes in India since 1983. World Vision has worked in India since 1962. A staff of more than 1,200 people serve more than 15 million Indians per year. This is not their first team effort. Habitat and World Vision joined forces in Burundi, Venezuela and the Jimmy Carter Work Project in the Philippines in 1999.
Celebrating its 25th Anniversary year, Habitat for Humanity International is an ecumenical Christian ministry dedicated to eliminating poverty housing. Founded by Millard Fuller, along with his wife, Linda, Habitat for Humanity International and its affiliates in more than 2,000 communities in 76 nations have built and sold more than 100,000 homes to partner families with no-profit, zero-interest mortgages.