Groundbreaking Kicks Off Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project 2009

VIPs at Chiang Mai Site Followed by Media Conference in Bangkok

BANGKOK, 20th February 2009: Habitat for Humanity kicked off its 26th Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project this week with a groundbreaking ceremony at what will be the main site for the multi-country Mekong Build in November.

From left: Shannon Morrow, wife of Michael Morrow; Michael Morrow, US Consul General, Chiang Mai; Sombat Kuen Kaew, sub-district chief; Chuchard Keelapaeng, vice governor of Chiang Mai province; Dr. Chainarong Monthienvichienchai, HFH Thailand and HFHI board member; Eric John, US Ambassador to Thailand, and Sofia John.

Children from Maung Len sub-district, where JRCWP 2009 will take place in Chiang Mai, perform at the groundbreaking.

HFH Thailand ambassador Rattapoom “Film” Tokongsub (right) answers question from the MC at the Bangkok media conference. In the middle, from left, Panida Panyangarm, chief executive of HFH Thailand; Dr. Chainarong; and Malinee Kitaphanich of Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau.

In front of a crowd of local people, many of whom are expected to apply to become Habitat home owners, the first earth was turned over at the 17-rai (2.72 hectares) site in Moo Baan Nong Kan Kru in Chiang Mai, the northern capital of Thailand.

Handling the shovels at the auspicious event were the vice governor of Chiang Mai province, Chuchard Keelapaeng; Eric John, US Ambassador to Thailand, and his wife Sophia; and Michael and Shannon Morrow, the US Consul General in the city and his wife. Also helping dig were Dr. Chainarong Monthienvichienchai, chairman of Habitat for Humanity Thailand and a member of Habitat’s international board; and Richard Hathaway, Asia-Pacific vice president for Habitat for Humanity International.

“As we turn the soil today, we mark the beginning of the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project 2009,” said Dr. Chainarong. “I encourage you to tell others about Habitat for Humanity, about this event and about the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of a current of change that will have lasting implications for Chiang Mai, for Thailand and for the Mekong region.

Former US President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, will join the Chiang Mai local community, celebrities and approximately 3,000 volunteers from Thailand and around the world to build 82 homes November 15- 20, 2009. The number 82 is to commemorate His Majesty the King’s 82nd birthday, which falls on December 5.

Chiang Mai will serve as the main host for the five-day project and will be the anchor to a five-country event with additional builds taking place in Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and the Yunnan province in southwestern China. The Mekong Build is a three-year campaign that will enable thousands of needy families in countries that border the Mekong river to have decent shelter.

Added Hathaway at the groundbreaking ceremony: “As with every other Carter Work Project, the event in November will bring more attention to the problem of poverty housing in this community, in this country and in this region; it will influence more individuals and donors who want to take action; and it will serve as a catalyst for more homes to be built and more lives changed.”

The day after the groundbreaking Dr. Chainarong was heading a media conference in a busy shopping mall in central Bangkok. Habitat for Humanity Thailand’s celebrity ambassador Rattapoom “Film” Tokongsub was on hand and encouraged young people to get involved and support the project in November. Also lending support was Malinee Kitaphanich of Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau, which has pledged to assist volunteers coming to the event

HFH Thailand is expecting to begin family selection for the Chiang Mai site in the coming weeks.

The annual Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project, which takes place in a different location every year, has provided homes for thousands of families people in the US, Canada, Mexico, Hungary, South Africa, South Korea, the Philippines and India. This is the fourth time that the Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project has been held in Asia.