February 28, 2005
by Kevin Caruso
Habitat for Humanity (HFH), a Christian group that constructs houses for the poor and for those who have suffered a natural disaster, will build 25,000 houses for tsunami survivors.
HFH will focus most of its work on the four countries which were hit hardest by the tsunami: Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand.
"I've never seen such devastation," said Maria Chomyszak, manager of HFH’s disaster response office, who visited India, Sri Lanka and Thailand. "People need help with housing and livelihood."
HFH had constructed 130 homes for poor families in Sri Lanka before the tsunami hit; those homes will be replaced by HFH as part of the 25,000 home project.
One of HFH’s objectives is to get survivors out of refugee camps as quickly as possible; thus HFH will construct simple one-room “core houses,” which can be built relatively quickly. The "core houses" will be designed so they can be easily enlarged in the future.
Another of the group’s objectives is to employ as many survivors as possible, so they will not only receive a house but will also receive some income. The jobs will include brick and roof tile production.
Mike Carscaddon, executive vice president of HFH’s international division, believes that HFH is ready for the massive undertaking.
"I think the fact that we've been working in Asia for a number of years gave us the ability to scale up and do a project of this size," he said.