Hong Kong Celebrities Lend a Hand As Habitat Post-Sichuan Earthquake Building Gets Under Way

CHENGDU, 23rd February 2009: Habitat for Humanity China is rebuilding the lives and homes of an initial 253 families in Taizi village, Pengzhou city, following the devastating Sichuan earthquake. Under the first phase of reconstruction in the southwestern province of Sichuan, Habitat aims to rebuild at least 728 houses as well as nursery schools, health clinics, activity centers/libraries and outdoor exercise areas in Pengzhou county.

The mountainous Taizi village, about two hours’ drive from the capital Chengdu, is located in Xiaoyudong town which was close to the epicenter of the 8.0 magnitude earthquake which shattered Sichuan in May 20008.

The average size of a new house currently under construction in Taizi is about 100 sq. m. The two-story wooden frame houses are designed by Sichuan University’s College of Architecture and Environment as part of a project supported by the Chengdu and Pengzhou city’s Bureau of Science and Technology. The houses are designed to be earthquake-resilient according to government guidelines.

The generous size of the houses will allow families to turn their new homes into “nong jia le” based on the “bed & breakfast” concept. Before the earthquake, Taizi was a popular summer retreat for tourists from Chengdu and other provinces.

The cost of building such houses will be covered by grants from the government and Habitat’s donors respectively as well as the family’s own cash contribution.

Two celebrities from Hong Kong – HFH China’s first goodwill ambassadors – are leading voluntary efforts. Trained in architecture, American-born actor/director Daniel Wu took easily to laying bricks, sifting sand and passing bricks during his two-day build from 21st to 22nd February. Singer/actress Karen Mok will contribute her effort from 27th to 28th February.

A team from Radio Television Hong Kong is also in Taizi village to capture the Habitat builds as part of its upcoming TV documentary commemorating the first anniversary of the Sichuan earthquake. RTHK is a public broadcasting organization in Hong Kong.

In between the celebrity builds, a 14-member team comprising mainly students from South Korea will also be the first Global Village volunteers to build in Taizi village.

Habitat is in discussions with local officials to explore the possibility of reconstruction in other villages in Xiaoyudong town.