Mihika Basu, Mumbai Newsline, October 29, 2006
Patan Village (Lonavala), October 29: Hundred homes for the homeless. Two thousand volunteers from India and abroad to build them in a week. The 23rd Jimmy Carter Work Project (JCWP) at Patan village near Lonavala is on. On Sunday, the former US President and Nobel Peace Prize winner himself inaugurated it.
In association with Habitat for Humanity (HFH)—an NGO, the project has caught the attention of some of Mumbai’s top corporates.
“I am glad that I have got the opportunity to work near the place (Vikhroli village) where 38 years ago my mother had worked as part of a voluntary group for the local people,” said Carter, who was accompanied by wife Rosalyn. “People are doing a heroic job here in transforming this place into a place of living.”
Carter’s involvement with HFH began in 1984 when he led a workgroup to New York City to help renovate a six-storeyed building with 19 families. “That experience planted the seed and the Jimmy Carter Work Project has been an internationally recognised event of HFH ever since,” said HFH India’s Chief Executive Officer Peter Selvarajan.
“Habitat has opened unprecedented opportunities for me and my family to cross the chasm that separates those of us who are free, safe, financially secure and influential enough to shape our own destiny from our neighbours who enjoy few, if any, of these advantages of life,” said Carter.
“Habitat for Humanity volunteers are following the Carters’ examples of neighbours helping neighbours,” said HFH International CEO Jonathan Reckford.
The 2,000-odd volunteers who are building the 100 homes for low-income families are coming from North and South America, Europe, parts of Asia, besides from across India.
Some top business organisations have also joined hands with HFH—Citigroup, Dow India, Whirpool, Aditya Birla Group, HDFC and Posco India to mention a few. “Teamwork and collaboration are aspects that are common to JCWP and the projects conducted at Citigroup. Moreover, we are here not just to build homes but to create a community,” said Citigroup Chief Officer and Technology Officer Kevin Kessinger.
The JCWP is the first major event for HFH’s “indiaBUILDS” campaign. The five-year campaign plans to engage 1 million volunteers in helping provide shelter to millions of people in India who lack affordable, decent and safe homes.
“JCWP offers an important opportunity to show what can be achieved when people from every walk of life come together to work with those in need,” said Selvarajan.
The 100-home JCWP involves members of self-help groups run by Abhinav Cooperation Credit Society (ACS), an arm of SAMPARC (Social Action for Manpower Creation).
The beneficiaries have been selected from 12 of the villages where ACS is active and on the basis of need and their willingness to partner with Habitat in future.
Families have already started volunteering their time at the work site in groups, participating and preparing materials and laying blocks, working on a test house, building walls and laying roofs.
“Once completed, each family will pay back on an affordable, no-profit mortgage. Mortage repayments over eight years will go into a revolving fund which will allow Habitat and SAMPARC to finance building of homes for additional families in the future,” said Selvarajan.
The Guest List
Notable coporate leaders present at the event were: Citigroup India CEO Sanjay Nayar, Aditya Birla Centre for Community Development chairperson Rajashree Birla, HDFC Ltd chairman Deepak Parekh, Pijikay Group of Companies chairman and managing director Gul Kriplani, Hiranandani Group of Companies managing director Niranjan Hiranandani and Gujarat Ambuja Cements Ltd managing director Anil Singhvi among others.