Carter Work Project Media Partner TrueVisions Sends 20 Volunteers On Habitat For Humanity Build In Eastern Thailand

At The Same Build Site In Chonburi Province, Another Team From US Embassy Team Helps A Family To Build Long-Awaited House

BANGKOK, 27th October 2009: Working on a Habitat for Humanity build on the east coast of Thailand marked a special experience for both volunteers and Habitat home partners.

Volunteers from TrueVisions and Helen and James Berger (second and third from left) having fun at their Habitat build in Chonburi.

Habitat home partner Artaphol Tienchot working hard together with the TrueVisions volunteers.

The lack of experience did not hinder US Embassy volunteer Jacqueline Matthews (right) and her colleague from building teamwork.

Habitat home partner Tipawan Posarach (left) and her daughter were happy to work with the volunteers on their new home.

The reward for the US Embassy volunteers’ work was to see the happiness and appreciation of the home partners when keys were handed over to them.

Twenty volunteers from national satellite and cable broadcaster TrueVisions had a field day building a house in Chonburi province, about 120 km. southeast of the capital Bangkok. They worked together with Habitat home partner, 27-year-old Artaphol Tienchot, in Kanalan village, Bang Lamung district.

“This is our kick-off event for our project with Habitat in which we will build five houses, two during the Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project, two with the regular program and this one,” said team leader, Pilutanee Panichpat, who is TrueVisions corporate public relations manager.

During the Carter Work Project, TrueVisions will be Habitat’s lead media partner, broadcasting on 13 channels that will be seen by an estimated 1.8 million viewers.

Being in the entertainment business helped as the volunteers managed to make the most out of the build despite being more used to an air-conditioned office environment. As the volunteers, most of whom were new hands, carried bricks and mixed cement, Pilutanee interviewed them for the purpose of running a segment on one of TrueVisions’ channels. “We really enjoyed ourselves so much that we all would like to do this again,” said Pilutanee.

Among the volunteers were former beauty queen Helen Berger and her husband James. The couple recently joined Friends of Habitat, a social mobilization network of HFH Thailand. Helen Berger, nee Prathumrat Woramali, was Miss Thailand World (1989), Mrs. Hawaii (2002) and second runner-up for Mrs. America (2002).

“We both are familiar with the work Habitat has done but we were unaware of the work Habitat does here. When Cindy Bishop, who volunteers with Friends of Habitat, invited us to a Habitat build last month, we decided to be more involved with the Habitat projects in Thailand and other countries in the region.”

The Bergers’ and the TrueVisions volunteers’ contributions were significant to Habitat home partner Artaphol who worked together with them to mix cement, carry bricks and helped lay the foundation of his house. Twenty-seven-year-old Artaphol works as a clothing salesman in Pattaya city, about 45 km. away from Kanalan village.

Used to apartment living in Pattaya, Artaphol looks forward to having his own house soon. “This has been a good day,” he said, referring to his build with the volunteers.

For another team of 25 volunteers from the US Embassy who also worked in Kanalan village but with another family, the build was memorable. Volunteer Jacqueline Matthews said: “It is a dream to be here today building this house along with the home owner family. When we first heard of the plans to build this house, we all helped to raise the funds to build this house in a few weeks.”

“Since few of us had any experience in building, we all worked together and helped one another,” she added. The team comprised volunteers from the US Embassy based in Bangkok as well as their family members.

Another volunteer, Frieda Stephens, who accompanied her husband Scott, said: “We have always liked to work with an organization that helps the underprivileged. Building a house is so special for a family who could not do this on their own.”

The US Embassy volunteers worked together with Habitat home partner Tipawan Posarach and her grown-up daughter to mix cement, carry bricks and build walls. On the second day of their build, the US Embassy volunteers were divided into two teams to work on Tipawan’s house and on Artaphol’s house respectively.

Tipawan, a divorced mother of three, works as a merchandiser for Kimberly Clark through the local supermarket chains. Her family has been living in a small apartment for the past five years and though they desired to have a new house, that dream was out of reach.

When Tipawan and her daughter were building their own house with the volunteers, she could not hide her elation. She said: “This is a very special day for us to be here with all the volunteers. I am so happy; it is hard to believe my family will have a house here.”

At the house dedication, volunteer Jacqueline Matthews recalled: “Turning over the keys to the new home owners was a fantastic experience – to see the happiness and jubilation and the appreciation for the group’s dedication to a wonderful cause.”