TAH CHAT CHAI: Former US President Jimmy Carter yesterday visited villagers at the north end of the island who lost their homes to the tsunami. New homes were provided for them by Habitat for Humanity, a charity headed by Carter.
Villages gave a heartfelt welcome to Carter and his wife Rosalynn, who were accompanied by US Ambassador to Thailand Ralph Boyce, Habitat for Humanity International CEO Jonathan Reckford and Dr Chainarong Monthienvichienchai, chairman of the Thai board of Habitat for Humanity Thailand.
During his visit, from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm, Carter inspected some of the 96 tsunami-recovery homes the foundation built. He also spoke to villagers about their income and how they felt about their new abodes.
Seventy-one of the homes were built using interlocking soil-cement blocks made by the villagers themselves under a “livelihood development” project. Some of the homes, however, still do not have toilets.
Carter autographed several bricks and even lent a hand in using the press used by villagers to mold the bricks.
The 20 houses closest to the Tah Chat Chai shore are on wooden stilts and cost about 120,000 baht each to build. The 71 homes built with the blocks cost about 95,000 baht apiece.
“Many people lost their homes to the tsunami, and the home is the important foundation for the family. I have worked with Habitat for Humanity for 23 years, and each year I spend one week helping people to rebuild their homes,” Carter said.
“I want you to know that I – and a lot of people around the world – care about you and wish you happiness with your new homes,” he added.
The Carters boarded a flight to India in the afternoon, bound for Lonavala, near Mumbai, where Habitat for Humanity is building 100 houses for homeless villagers.
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