100 University Students Mobilized By South Korean Steel Giant POSCO Build With HFH Thailand

January 21st, 2009

Second Build After 80-Member POSCO Team Helped Former Slum Dwellers To Rebuild Homes In Delhi

A helping hand: With his knowledge of building skills, Dawoon “Cameron” Jung (below right) was able to help his team mates who were first-time Habitat volunteers. Photos by Mikel Flamm.

CHONBURI, 21st January 2009: For the second year in a row, South Korean steel giant POSCO had mobilized university volunteers to build with Habitat for Humanity. This year’s build took place in eastern Thailand and attracted 100 university students. In January 2008, more than 80 volunteers were sent by POSCO to rebuild the homes of former slum dwellers in northern India.

The Korean volunteers worked together with seven families to build new homes in Chonburi, about an hour-and-a-half’s drive southeast of Bangkok. In addition to building with Habitat in Thailand, the volunteers will also work on various Habitat projects in South Korea.

Unlike most of the first-time Habitat volunteers on the team, Dawoon “Cameron” Jung can lay claim to some knowledge of construction. The 25-year-old had gained more skills than he expected during his two years in the South Korean army. “I learned many things that I was not aware of then but after I got out I have been able to do many things I learned in those very difficult years, including building.”

On the worksite, Cameron was able to put his skills to work, helping the other volunteers to mix cement and build the wall of a house. Each cement block house measures 36 sq. m. in size with a toilet built outside it.

Currently Cameron is a business major at Han Yang University in Seoul, but is interested in working with non-governmental organization groups. “It is important for me to help people who are in need. In Korea many people think it is important to always concentrate on making money but when we can help families to have a better future through a new house, it makes me feel good to be part of this project.”

“After I graduate, I intend to make it part of my goal to continue with projects such as what we are doing here this week.”

Another volunteer Young Hoon, POSCO corporate business support manager and Habitat go back a long way. Better known as “Yahoo”, he worked for HFH Korea from 1996-2004 as international volunteer coordinator.

Cooperation: POSCO volunteers (top) and Habitat home partner Yanaphat Watanaphothong (above) working together.

“It’s great to be here for this event in Thailand. This is our second year of having university students work on Habitat projects and it has been very a successful partnership,” said Yahoo. “Last year we built houses in India, a follow up to our work in India at the Jimmy Carter Work Project in 2006 where POSCO donated US200,000.

“This project is very special and each of these students who represent 40 universities will be taking back their experiences to share with friends and family. Since most have their own website blogs they will further share what they learned here building with Habitat and spread the good word even more.

“I feel really happy doing this project because I am still a Habitat man at heart,” Yahoo added.

Habitat home partner Yanaphat Watanaphothong, 33, was busy at work, carrying cement bags, water and mixing cement along with the student volunteers.

“It is very special to us to have our own house after living in an apartment for so many years,” said Yanaphat who was touched that the volunteers came from so far away to help build his house. Yanaphat is an artist who sketches and paints for tourists in Pattaya. With his 30-year-old wife Ganyawee and their infant son Weewong, they currently pay 3,500 to 4,000 baht (US100 to US116) a month to rent an apartment.

“I am very happy to have the Korean volunteers helping me with my house. It is really a great feeling knowing that my wife, son and I will have a beautiful new house here,” he said.

POSCO, headquartered in the southeastern port city of Pohang in South Korea, is one of the biggest global steel makers by output. Through its India subsidiary, POSCO sponsored houses and sent volunteers to build in Lonavala, India, during the 2006 Jimmy Carter Work Project. Every year, the South Korean group invites college students nationwide to join Habitat builds locally and overseas, constructing an average of 10 homes per year.