/PRNewswire/ -- Former U.S. President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, welcomed volunteers to Thailand as they kicked off the 26th annual Habitat for Humanity Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project in Chiang Mai. The Carters will lead the annual Habitat for Humanity build in five Asian countries, Nov. 15-20.
The Carters and nearly 3,000 volunteers from around the world will spend the week building and repairing 166 homes in Thailand, Vietnam, China, Cambodia and Laos - all countries along the Mekong River.
"In an area of the world where many people live in deplorable conditions, we have a chance to help families improve their housing," said former President Carter. "Over the years I have seen the lasting impact Habitat for Humanity volunteers can have, and I have been personally touched by the work they are doing around the world."
During the week, the Carters will join dignitaries, celebrities, volunteers and Habitat homeowners as they build in Chiang Mai and visit construction sites in the other countries.
Celebrity volunteers expected to build in Chiang Mai and elsewhere include global movie action star Jet Li; Japanese footballer Hidetoshi Nakata; Hong Kong actor/director Daniel Wu; from India, Bollywood superstar and Habitat for Humanity India supporter John Abraham, along with fellow countryman actor R. "Maddy" Madhavan; South Korean TV acting sensation Lee Seo-Jin, and Habitat for Humanity Thailand's goodwill ambassador, singer and actor Rattapoom "Film" Tokongsub.
Habitat for Humanity of Thailand will anchor the five-country Carter Work Project, where volunteers will build a community of 82 houses with families in Chiang Mai province. The number 82 was chosen to honor the 82nd birthday of the Thai monarch, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, on Dec. 5, 2009.
Habitat volunteers in Cambodia will build 21 houses in Damnak Thom village with families who will be relocating from a dumpsite near Phnom Penh. Thirty-two houses will be built by Habitat homeowners and volunteers in Vietnam's Dong Xa village near Hanoi.
In China, Habitat is working with the local government in Qionglai city, in the southwestern province of Sichuan, in a project to build a series of multi-story, urban housing units that will eventually house hundreds of families. Habitat volunteers will help construct 20 Habitat for Humanity units during the Carter project.
Additionally, in Laos, Habitat volunteers and families will refurbish 11 homes in Ban Chawang village, 30 minutes outside the capital city of Vientiane.
"With the help of President and Mrs. Carter and the thousands of devoted Habitat volunteers, the Carter Work Project will result not only in better housing for families who urgently need it in the Mekong region, but in much-needed attention to the housing plight of so many families in this part of the world," said Habitat for Humanity Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Reckford. "Decent shelter helps transform lives and entire communities, and we're grateful for President and Mrs. Carter's servant leadership."
"Habitat for Humanity has a strong and growing presence in all the Mekong countries through a wide range of housing solutions," said Richard Hathaway, vice president for Habitat for Humanity International's Asia-Pacific region. "We are thankful to President and Mrs. Carter and the thousands of volunteers who will give programs in this area a major boost, allowing Habitat to serve even more families in need of decent shelter."
Habitat's Carter Work Project is an annual, internationally-recognized week of building that brings attention to the need for simple, decent and affordable housing in partnership with low-income families. President and Mrs. Carter have faithfully given one week of their time each year since 1984 to help build Habitat homes and raise awareness about the need for simple, decent housing. The Carter Work Project has been held in India, Korea, The Philippines, Mexico, South Africa, Hungary and throughout the United States.
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