Habitat of Plainfield/Middlesex Builds in Sri Lanka
[PLAINFIELD, NJ] — As Team USA competes in London for the 2012 Olympic Games this August, another team will be representing the USA for another cause. Three locals from the Habitat for Humanity of Greater Plainfield & Middlesex County will travel to Sri Lanka to build twenty-four homes with 300 other international volunteers during the week of August 6-11, 2012.
Executive Director of Habitat of Plainfield/Middlesex, Rev. Jeremy Montgomery, will be joined on this trip by Westfield school teacher, Shannon Stone, and Ian Ng, a local carpenter. The majority of the other Habitat volunteers will come from New Zealand with the next biggest group from Japan. Volunteers from Australia, Great Britain and India make up the rest.
Sri Lanka is a country on the mend after three decades of civil strife, conflict and natural disasters, including the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami where hundreds of thousands of homes were destroyed and 30,957 were killed. Since 1996, Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka has assisted more than 14,000 families and works to promote reconciliation between Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim communities, and to assist those who have been displaced.
“As participants from ‘Team USA’, we will be a vital part of this project’s success,” comments Rev. Montgomery. “Through Rebuild Sri Lanka, we will also contribute to the ongoing peace activities. By building together as outsiders, we will help convey a significant message of peaceful coexistence.” In turn, this message of peace will spread to other parts of Sri Lanka. To mark this joyous event, there will also be a celebration and a peace concert during the week.
During this one week “Blitz Build”, the impact will be made on a community in Pathayamwatte village, in the Western Province of Sri Lanka, approximately 40 km from Colombo, and on the lives of 24 families. These 24 low-income families, who named themselves the Society of Landless Families, neither own land nor a house. They are currently living in dilapidated and sub-standard housing conditions with limited sanitation facilities. Many were severely affected by the 2004 tsunami. The families work as fishermen, day laborers, carpenters, mechanics, etc., and earn an average of 500-800 Sri Lankan rupees (or US $5-$8) per day. Members in each family only get to work 18 or 20 days a month due to the monsoon season, heavy rains or a lack of work.
During Rebuild Sri Lanka, the families will learn how to make their own building material using soil from the build site in Pathayamwatte village to produce blocks. Biogas digesters which turn organic waste into low-cost fuel, solar cookers and home gardens will add sustainability and improve the quality of their lives. Each year, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Plainfield & Middlesex County donates 10% of its proceeds toward global efforts with Habitat for Humanity. In addition to sending this team of volunteers, this year’s donation was given to this project in Sri Lanka.
Habitat for Humanity of Greater Plainfield & Middlesex County, an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, is a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry dedicated to eliminating poverty housing. The houses are sold at no profit to those in need with a no-interest Habitat mortgage. Since 1989, 33 homes have been built by Plainfield Habitat, all built 100% by volunteers using tax deductible donations of money and materials. This summer, Habitat of Plainfield/Middlesex will finish its 34th home in Plainfield on East Sixth Street and begin a 5-home project on West Seventh Street.
Anyone interested in volunteering or offering donations is encouraged to call (908) 769-5292 or visit their Web site at www.habitatgpmc.org.