Indian And Overseas Corporate Support For HFH India

February 22nd, 2011

Rajashree Birla, Ron Terwilliger Speak For Habitat At Indian Merchants’ Chamber Dinner; They Also Join Habitat Build Of Premier University Alumni

Ron Terwilliger speaking at the Ivy Leaguer Build in Karjat. Earlier, at a dinner hosted by the Indian Merchants’ Chamber in Mumbai, he stressed the positive social and economic impact of decent housing.

MAHARASHTRA, India, 22nd February 2011: Corporate supporters of Habitat for Humanity India rallied around Habitat’s cause of providing safe, decent and affordable housing at a dinner co-hosted by the Indian Merchants’ Chamber in Mumbai recently.

Ron Terwilliger, chairman emeritus of Trammell Crow Residential, the largest developer of multi-family housing in the United States, was honored at the event. Terwilliger, who is former chairman of Habitat for Humanity International’s board of directors, is now leading Habitat’s Global World of Hope campaign to galvanize resources.

In May 2009, Habitat for Humanity International announced a US100 million commitment by Terwilliger as a legacy gift. Representing the largest donation by an individual in Habitat’s history, Terwilliger’s legacy commitment will help some 60,000 families both in the United States and internationally.

At the IMC dinner in Mumbai, Terwilliger said: “I grew up in somewhat modest beginnings, and since then I’ve spent my life helping thousands of people enjoy a first-class housing experience. I’ve been fortunate enough to achieve a fair amount of success and wealth along the way, and I’ve come to recognize the important role decent housing plays in the lives of families, particularly the working poor. Those who work hard to operate our companies, clean our hotels and keep our communities safe are the backbone of any economy and when they are properly housed, that has a positive social and economic impact on society.”

Various Indian corporate leaders spoke at the event, including Rajashree Birla, chairperson of Habitat’s IndiaBUILDS campaign and members of the IndiaBUILDS’ advisory committee, Gul Kripalani and Niranjan Hiranandani.

Mrs Birla is a director of Indian conglomerate Aditya Birla Group and Aditya Birla Center for Community Initiatives and Rural Development; Kripalani is chairperson and managing director of Pijikay Group of Companies and Hiranandani is managing director, Hiranandani Group of Companies.

Mrs Rajashree Birla (in blue) at the Ivy Leaguer Build with Ron Terwilliger (far right) and Maharashtra’s governor K. Sankaranarayanan (second from right).

Mrs Birla said: “While the Government has a number of projects that address the need for housing, I believe the Government single handedly can cope with this challenge only to an extent. We will be working with the Government, leveraging the Indira Awaas Yojana (Indira Housing Scheme) and the Rajiv Gandhi Rural Housing Scheme among others.

“Under the aegis of Habitat for Humanity in India, we have made some progress. Under the IndiaBUILDS campaign, Habitat has built over 35,000 houses, providing shelter to 175,000 persons. Our ambition is to serve 100,000 families by 2015. I urge you to ink your support, to take our message in your circle of influence, to help Habitat for Humanity in whatever way you can.”

“If every corporate believes in extending a hand of assistance to those who do not have, then India could soon turn out to be a heaven on earth. CSR is the most important aspect and a benchmark to judge a company’s heart for those who do not have. Wipe a tear – spread a smile,” said Kripalani.

Adding his call to the appeal was Dino Touthang, chief executive officer of HFH India. “Over the years, Habitat for Humanity in India has been working with some leading corporate houses that have joined hands with us to ensure that everyone has a decent place to live in. The philanthropy and charitable offerings of all of you are crucial in enabling us to work toward eradicating poverty and homelessness in the world.”

(Above) Volunteers at the Ivy Leaguer Build mixed clay for cement, among other tasks. (Below) Maharashtra’s governor, K. Sankaranarayanan (in sunglasses), at the dedication of a Habitat house in Karjat where the Ivy Leaguer Build took place.

The following day, Mrs Birla and Terwilliger joined 62 volunteers who are alumni of premier tertiary institutions in India and abroad at a Habitat build at Kawatewadi village, Karjat, over 90 km from Mumbai.

The two-day Ivy Leaguer Build involved volunteers who graduated from Columbia University in the U.S., Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad, Kolkata American School, Indian Institute of Technology and Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, both in Mumbai.

Volunteers mixed clay for cement, moving bricks and laying bricks to build the walls of four houses as well as painting of the external walls.

Mrs Birla and Terwilliger interacted with several Habitat home partners and the volunteers. Both of them also dedicated two Habitat houses together with Maharashtra’s governor, K. Sankaranarayanan.

The governor said that in the past, “most of India’s business groups, tradition-bound and conservative, focused only on CSR activities around their areas of operation such as building a school, a clinic, writing out checks, or working with communities around their plants.

“Initiatives such as IndiaBUILDS will have a far reaching impact on India’s poverty alleviation crusade since families will now live in healthy, hygienic and secure surroundings. Children too can spend more time studying and pursuing their dreams rather than worrying about the rain and the wind.”

The Ivy Leaguer Build was part of HFH India’s project to provide 200 families in Karjat with solid, permanent homes. Each house being built measures about 300 square feet (nearly 28 square meters) in size, has a stone foundation, brick walls and tiled roof.