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Habitat for Humanity assists more than 22,500 families devastated by 2004 tsunami

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Organization releases special report on fifth anniversary of natural disaster

ATLANTA (Dec. 17, 2009) - Five years after the devastation of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Habitat for Humanity has assisted more than 22,500 families in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Thailand.

Emerging Stronger: Five years after the Indian Ocean tsunami, a report released by Habitat, outlines how the organization mobilized donors, partners, volunteers and supporters from across the world to build permanent homes with families in need of safe, decent affordable shelter. The report also looks at the impact of Habitat's work on individual families and communities.

"The tsunami challenged us to build at a larger scale than we ever had," said Kip Scheidler, senior director of global disaster response for Habitat for Humanity International. "The unprecedented destruction and suffering required an unprecedented response from the public, private and non-profit sectors. Thanks to our many donors, partners and volunteers, five years later we have assisted 22,500 families and are still at work building and improving homes and responding to yet other natural disasters as we help additional families develop strong, sustainable communities."

Habitat built its tsunami response strategy around several central concepts from the traditional program, including the importance of working with families on their shelter solutions. Findings show that the people most affected by a disaster are in the best position to help lead the reconstruction of their homes and livelihoods. Encouraging people to participate in rebuilding their lives has two specific benefits: it helps communities heal in the wake of a disaster, and it increases the ability and capacity of the community, even those previously living in poverty, to address other challenges.

By September 2009, Habitat for Humanity had assisted approximately 22,500 families affected by the disaster. The non-profit has built, rehabilitated or repaired homes with 11,700 families in India, 5,970 families in Aceh, 2,880 families in Sri Lanka and nearly 2,000 families in Thailand. In addition to providing shelter and housing, Habitat for Humanity has educated approximately 27,000 families on the east coast of India through disaster mitigation and preparedness programs.

Habitat continues to work with communities affected by the tsunami in the four hardest-hit countries and is on course for assisting an estimated 25,000 families by June 2010.

"Habitat for Humanity's post-tsunami rebuilding projects serve as a springboard for additional low-cost housing solutions for people in affected countries," said Rick Hathaway, Asia-Pacific vice-president of Habitat for Humanity International.

Habitat's report, Emerging Stronger: Five years after the Indian Ocean tsunami, is available at

Habitat for Humanity International is an ecumenical Christian ministry that welcomes to its work all people dedicated to the cause of eliminating poverty housing. Since its founding in 1976, Habitat has built, rehabilitated, repaired or improved more than 350,000 houses worldwide, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than 1.75 million people. For more information, or to donate or volunteer, visit