Jimmy Carter and Habitat for Humanity
As president of the United States, Jimmy Carter was deeply committed to social justice and basic human rights. He and his wife Rosalynn left the White House in search of meaningful ways to contribute in these areas. In addition to promoting peace and human rights through the nonprofit Carter Center in Atlanta, they lead the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project for Habitat for Humanity International one week each year.
Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project
Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter's involvement with Habitat for Humanity International began in 1984 when the former president led a work group to New York City to help renovate a six-story building with 19 families in need of decent, affordable shelter. That experience planted the seed, and the Carter Work Project has been an internationally recognized event of HFHI ever since.
Each year, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter give a week of their time—along with their construction skills—to build homes and raise awareness of the critical need for affordable housing. The Carter Work Project is held at a different location each year, and attracts volunteers from around the world.
- CWP 2009 Mekong region: Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and the Yunnan Province in China. – November 2009
- CWP 2008 took place along the Gulf Coast (Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas) – May 11-16, 2008
- CWP 2007 took place in Los Angeles, Calif. -- Oct. 28 -Nov. 2, 2007
- CWP 2006 took place in Lonavala, India -- Oct. 29-Nov. 3rd, 2006.
- CWP 2005 took place in Detroit and Benton Harbor, Mich., the week of June 19-24, 2005.
- CWP 2004 took place in two sites in Mexico—Puebla and Veracruz--Oct. 24-29, 2004,
- The Carters and more than 4,000 volunteers built 92 houses in Anniston, Ala., and LaGrange and Valdosta, Ga., during CWP 2003.
- The 2002 CWP took place in Africa. One thousand houses were built in 18 countries, with the final 100 houses constructed in a five-day build in Durban, South Africa.
- In 2001, CWP built 136 houses at six sites across South Korea with more than 9,000 volunteers participating from around the world.
- Other recent CWP builds have taken place in New York-Florida-Georgia (2000, 157 houses), the Philippines (1999, 293 houses) and Houston, Texas (1998, 100 houses).
- Earlier CWP's include: 1997, 1994-1996, 1990-1993, 1984-1989"We have become small players in an exciting global effort to alleviate the curse of homelessness," Carter said. "With our many new friends, we have worked to raise funds, to publicize the good work of Habitat, to recruit other volunteers, to visit overseas projects and even build a few houses."
Since leaving office, Carter has gained a reputation as a tireless champion for social justice. "Habitat has successfully removed the stigma of charity by substituting it with a sense of partnership," Carter said. "The people who will live in the homes work side by side with the volunteers, so they feel very much that they are on an equal level."
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter presents a Bible to a new homeowner in Durban, South Africa, during the 2002 Carter Work Project.
Worldwide View Shared by Carter and Habitat
Habitat for Humanity International is a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry dedicated to eliminating substandard housing and making decent shelter a matter of conscience and action. Habitat for Humanity has built more than 200,000 houses worldwide. Volunteers work with future homeowners to build or renovate houses, which are then sold to partner families at no profit, with no interest charged on the mortgage. The money from the sale of each house goes into a revolving Fund for Humanity, to support future building projects.
"Habitat has opened up unprecedented opportunities for me to cross the chasm that separates those of us who are free, safe, financially secure, well fed and housed, and influential enough to shape our own destiny from our neighbors who enjoy few, if any, of these advantages of life," Carter said.
While the former president is a noted carpenter (the White House staff gave him tools for his workshop when he left the presidency), Rosalynn has also gained building experience with Habitat.
The former first lady describes her work on a Habitat project in "Everything to Gain," a book that was co-written by the Carters: "I didn't think I could use a hammer and I didn't want to use a hammer. At first it took me 15 or 20 strokes for each nail, but before the week was over I could drive one in with only four or five strokes!"EXCERPT:At the main site in Maragondon, the project was a partnership between three organizations: Habitat for Humanity; World Vision Development Foundation, an arm of an international Christian relief and development organization; and Shoreline Kabalikat sa Kaunlaran ("Partner for Development") Inc., a Christian development organization formed and run by families in the area. World Vision Japan donated the funds to purchase the land, and World Vision Philippines funded a drainage/water system development and a new community center with a playground.
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