LONAVALA, India (Nov. 1, 2006) – In a symbol of how people from all backgrounds can work in harmony, a group of Indian and Pakistani students today worked at Habitat for Humanity’s 2006 Jimmy Carter Work Project to help build houses together with families in need. The 2006 project will see 100 homes built in a village near Lonavala, Oct. 30 – Nov. 3, 2006.
The 10 youth volunteers from a group called Seeds of Peace hail from Lahore, Pakistan; and Mumbai, India. They helped volunteers working on two houses by painting window frames on the third day of the Habitat event.
One of Pakistani students, Zunaira Hijazi, was touched by the warmth of the reception the Seeds of Peace group received. “The home partner family has been very sweet, they get me water and when I can’t reach for something, they stack bricks for me to step on.”
The Habitat home partner, Beby Tatyabai Kakre, will soon be moving into her new Habitat for Humanity home from her brother’s house, which she shares with her family.
When she became a Seed of Peace member a few years ago, Zunaira attended an international camp in Maine, where she learned about empathy, respect and peaceful co-existence. “Building homes in India is putting what we have learned into practice,” she said.
The Seeds of Peace volunteers will be building with Habitat until the last day of the project on Friday. When asked if she will be returning to India for another visit, Zunaira’s answer was a definite “yes”.
“We are delighted to have the Seeds of Peace volunteers join Habitat for Humanity this week,” said Steve Weir, Habitat for Humanity’s vice president for the Asia-Pacific region. “Overcoming the scourge of substandard housing both in South Asia and elsewhere in the world demands that we pool our talents, our ideas and our expertise and work together. Everyone deserves a safe, decent and affordable home they can call their own.”
Seeds of Peace, a non-profit organization based in Maine, was founded in 1993 by journalist Don Wallach. The organization is dedicated to empowering young leaders from regions of conflict with the leadership skills required to advance reconciliation and co-existence. Through international camps, conferences and workshops, Seeds of Peace helps to cultivate the leadership, communication and negotiation skills that will ensure peaceful co-existence for the next generation.
This year’s JCWP event is associated with Habitat for Humanity’s “indiaBUILDS” program. The five-year campaign plans to engage 1 million volunteers in helping to provide shelter in partnership with 250,000 people in India. The campaign also seeks to raise funds for a sustainable revolving fund worth US$50 million.
The Carters are Habitat’s most famous volunteers. Each year since 1984, the Carters have given one week of their time to build homes and raise awareness about the need for simple, decent and affordable housing. Previous JCWP events have been held in the United States (in New York City, Georgia and Michigan), the Philippines, Hungary, South Korea and South Africa. Habitat’s JCWP 2007 will be in Los Angeles, California.
For more information about Habitat for Humanity’s Jimmy Carter Work Project, visit www.habitat.org/jcwp/2006/ .
Major partners include Citigroup, Dow India, Vedanta Resources, Posco India, Whirlpool Corporation, Cisco, HDFC Ltd., Aditya Birla Group and Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.
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 Americus, Ga., in 1976, Habitat has built more than 200,000 houses in nearly 100 countries, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than 1 million people. For more information, visit www.habitat.org .