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October 24, 2009

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Carter to build for Sichuan poor

FORMER US President Jimmy Carter and his wife will visit China next month to work as carpenters alongside more than 300 volunteers from around the world and build homes for poor people in Sichuan Province.

The 85-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner will heft a hammer in Qionglai, a city near the provincial capital Chengdu, from November 15 to 20.

The Carters and the volunteers will help build more than 20 "simple but decent and affordable homes" for needy families, the Chengdu Business Daily reported yesterday.

The Carter Work Project is associated with Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit, non-governmental organization founded in 1976 that is devoted to building basic houses with locally appropriate material.

The five-day "building blitz" is only a pilot effort, as Habitat will work with local government authorities in a five-year plan to erect more than 300 multi-story urban residences that will eventually house hundreds of families, according to the report.

Many families in Qionglai live in crowded conditions or own no property because of soaring land and housing prices.

This is the second Habitat for Humanity project in the southwest China province. The volunteer group has helped in rebuilding efforts following the deadly 2008 earthquake that ripped through Sichuan. It has built and supported housing for more 4,000 families.

The Carter Work Project has taken the former first family to many parts of the world. The Carters give a week of their time each year to building homes and raising awareness of the need for affordable housing. The program is held at a different location each year and attracts volunteers from around the globe.

Many public figures including US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have joined the organization not only to raise funds and generate publicity but also to work on the construction sites.


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