NEW JERSEY, USA: Former US President & First Lady Carter are the “Real Deal” for World Habitat Day

NEW JERSEY, USA: Former US President & First Lady Carter are the “Real Deal” for World Habitat Day

Carters Habitat 2013

When it comes to helping people outside the United States, Former President Jimmy Carter says, “We don’t distinguish.”

In celebration of this week’s World Habitat Day, Carter said last Saturday, “We think the folks [we build housing for] in other countries are just as good and needy as the folks in America.”

The message that President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rossalyn Carter brought to Union Beach, NJ, a town that was hit by Hurricane Sandy almost one year ago, was one of hope, for the people there and the people all around the world.

The Carters have spent over 3 decades giving a hand up to families in need of affordable shelter through Habitat for Humanity, a Christian non-profit that builds housing for the people who need it most.  And, by the looks of it, they are not stopping.  Last week, on the Habitat for Humanity work site in Union Beach, NJ, the President and First Lady, in their work clothes, helped build house framing for over 2 hours. (They are for real, guys.) This was the tail end of the Carter work project this year that went around the United States and ended in New Jersey.

The local branch of Habitat for Humanity in Monmouth County, New Jersey, USA, has completed 40 homes since Super Storm Sandy hit in October of last year. Eighty percent of their service area was affected by the storm from the town of Aberdeen to the town of Ocean.

First Lady Rossalyn Carter stated, “This [worksite] was a special one for us. Super storm Sandy hit, and we’ve been worried about you all ever since.”

Mr. Lamberson is interviewed by the Press on the Carter's worksite.  That's his home in the background being rebuilt after Super Storm Sandy damaged it almost one year ago.

Mr. Lamberson is interviewed by the Press on the Carter’s worksite. That’s his home in the background being rebuilt after Super Storm Sandy damaged it almost one year ago.

The Carters have proved themselves tireless champions of human justice.

“We find that Habitat home owners were hopeless and have never known success. They’ve been promised outside help that never arrived, but Habitat is not that way. Local people decide what kind of houses to build, where and which families. Lots of the homeowners become transformed.”  — President Carter.

The Former President also explained that the houses in Union Beach were being raised by 8 feet to withstand any future super storms. He said, “Places have to be prepared for the next natural disaster.”

The Habitat model is not a 100% hand out.  Homeowners pay the full cost of the house, and they must put in at least 100 hours of work.  However, in most cases, their mortgage is 0% interest.

And the organization requests their volunteers fundraise or pay to help, as well as, dedicate their woman and man hours.

Former First Lady Rossalyn Carter explained that education can be greatly effected when children do not have a home, and she referred to a family in Seattle, Washington, USA who were living in their automobile.  After they moved into their Habitat home, their son became top of his class just months after moving into their Habitat home.

The Former First Lady described another mother who previously cringed to answer her door to her substandard housing because it was often the police saying that her sons were in trouble. Her sons were never home. After Habitat arrived and built them a new house, her sons returned home with their friends because they were proud of where they lived and were staying out of trouble.

These are the types of examples that keep the Carters going and using their celebrity to further the cause for adequate housing.

Kelly is a mom of twins whose home was flooded in Super Storm Sandy last year.  Her family is displaced and still waiting for their home to be finished. She came by with her kids to catch a glimpse of the Carters on Saturday.

“Hurricane Sandy Survivor” — Kelly is a mom of twins whose home was flooded in Super Storm Sandy last year. Her family is still displaced and waiting for work on their home to be finished almost one year later (not a Habitat home). She came by with her kids to catch a glimpse of the Carters on Saturday.

“When we go to South Africa, South Korea, the Philippines, Europe, Hungary , and 3 times in Mexico, people are the same wherever we go.” — Former First Lady Rossalyn Carter

Exactly.

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Founder, Jennifer Burden in NJ, USA. Jennifer is no stranger to Habitat for Humanity.  As a junior at Villanova University, she spent a week building an adobe-style house in New Mexico, USA for a low-income family through the organization. 

Jennifer Burden of World Moms Blog with Jennifer Sneed of Habitat for Humanity in Monmouth County, NJ at the Carter worksite in Union Beach, NJ on October 12, 2013.

Jennifer Burden of World Moms Blog with Jennifer Sneed of Habitat for Humanity in Monmouth County, NJ at the Carter worksite in Union Beach, NJ on October 12, 2013.

Photo credits to the author.  

Jennifer Burden

Jennifer Burden is the Founder and CEO of World Moms Network, an award winning website on global motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. World Moms Network writes from over 30 countries, has over 70 contributors and was listed by Forbes as one of the “Best 100 Websites for Women”, named a “must read” by The New York Times, and was recommended by The Times of India. She was also invited to Uganda to view UNICEF’s family health programs with Shot@Life and was previously named a “Global Influencer Fellow” and “Social Media Fellow” by the UN Foundation. Jennifer was invited to the White House twice, including as a nominated "Changemaker" for the State of the World Women Summit. She also participated in the One Campaign’s first AYA Summit on the topic of women and girl empowerment and organized and spoke on an international panel at the World Bank in Washington, DC on the importance of a universal education for all girls. Her writing has been featured by Baby Center, Huffington Post, ONE.org, the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life, and The Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists.” She is currently a candidate in Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs in the Executive Masters of Public Affairs program, where she hopes to further her study of global policies affecting women and girls. Jennifer can be found on Twitter @JenniferBurden.

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NEW ZEALAND: Census Day

NEW ZEALAND: Census Day

NZMarch 5th 2013 was Census Day in New Zealand, and it was the first that our boys were really involved with. This was a re-scheduled Census due to the February 22nd (2011) earthquake in Christchurch, which had put the country into a state of emergency. (8th March 2011 had been the original scheduled date)

We hold a Census every five years and it is illegal to not fill in a form or to fill in forms with incorrect information. The data is used by central government, local government, iwi (Maori tribal groups), businesses and community groups for strategic planning and budget allocation. We have the option of filling them out on paper or on line and we can chose to have forms in either English or Maori.

The boys were very excited, and immediately after dinner was cleared away, the one (how does that happen?) blue pen in the house was found. It was heartening to see the older boys both knew their full names, address, previous address, dates of birth etc and the three year-old was able to tell me his full name too. On asking him where he lived, he looked at me as if I had gone insane and said, Here. When I asked him where he used to live, he said matter of factly, “In our town house.” (I must work on that – the other two could easily rattle off their address and phone number at the same age.) (more…)

Karyn Wills

Karyn is a teacher, writer and solo mother to three sons. She lives in the sunny wine region of Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand in the city of Napier.

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PHILIPPINES: A Time to Help – The Aftermath of Typhoon Bopha (Pablo)

PHILIPPINES: A Time to Help – The Aftermath of Typhoon Bopha (Pablo)

Typhoon Haiyan

Recently, I wrote an article for Philstar.com, a local news website here in the Philippines, entitled, “We Are All Connected.” It was about the typhoon in the Philippines, dubbed internationally as “Bopha,” but known locally as “Pablo.” Allow me to share a few lines from that article here:

“Dear readers, the reality is this: We are all connected. Whether we like it or not. Whether we believe it or not. Whether we have the same beliefs or not. Whether we are Muslim, Catholic, Christian, Hindu, Buddhists, atheists — we are all connected somehow. At least, that’s what I believe.

As Filipinos, we have witnessed our country and our countrymen rise from different calamities and disasters — both natural and man-made. We know that ‘the Filipino spirit is waterproof. We know that, after this typhoon, there may still be more to come (though let us pray that there aren’t any more) — yet we will still stand strong.”

Well, as of Sunday, December 9, the typhoon was still making its presence felt in our country, although as of Sunday afternoon, it had already been “downgraded” from a tropical depression to a low pressure area. Bopha was actually supposed to have left the Philippine area of responsibility by then, but it veered back in, the evening of December 8.

As I write this post, the latest news reports state (more…)

Tina Santiago-Rodriguez (Philippines)

Tina Santiago-Rodriguez is a wife and homeschool mom by vocation, a licensed physical therapist by education and currently the managing editor of Mustard, a Catholic children's magazine published by Shepherd's Voice Publications in the Philippines, by profession. She has been writing passionately since her primary school years in Brunei, and contributes regularly to several Philippine and foreign-based online and print publications. She also does sideline editing and scriptwriting jobs, when she has the time. Find out more about Tina through her personal blogs: Truly Rich Mom and Teacher Mama Tina.

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NEW JERSEY, USA:  Hurricane Sandy

NEW JERSEY, USA: Hurricane Sandy

Sandy Flooded Homes

A week ago, Hurricane Sandy made landfall very close to our home in New Jersey.

We live in a waterfront neighborhood, where some people live bay-front and the rest of us live on lagoons. Even though a mandatory evacuation was issued, we wondered whether we really needed to evacuate, since we live on one of the furthest lagoons from the bay and because we knew how many feet above mean high tide we are. But, with young children, we chose not to take any chances and heeded the warning. We spent the hurricane at a cousin’s house, leaving our home on Sunday. The storm was at its worst on Monday and by Tuesday afternoon we were able to return home.

From my cousin’s home, we watched strong gusts of wind come and take down trees and saw some flooding but that was nothing compared to what we would see when we went home.

We were very lucky. We could see the water line in our yard. If the water had come up another 1.5 feet, we would have had flooding inside our house. We lost part of our dock, stairs and walkway, all of which were still under water when we first got home. We had some branches come down and a shutter fly off the house.

We have now spent a few days working in and out of the house and are just about back to normal. We lost electricity but it was restored four days later. Now we have a freezer and fridge to clean out. We saved what we could, but couldn’t save it all.

(more…)

Maggie Ellison

Maggie is so grateful to be raising her 2 children with her husband in the low country of South Carolina. Life at the beach is what she’s always known, although living in SC is new to this NJ native! The beauty of the live oaks and the palmettos takes her breath away on a daily basis and being able to go to the beach all year is a dream for her. Art and music have also always been a part of Maggie’s life, and she is happy that her family has the same love and appreciation for it that she does.
Maggie and her family are also very active. Her husband coaches both kids in soccer, and they like to spend their time outdoors kayaking, biking, swimming, camping, etc. They try to seize every moment they can together, and they feel that it’s not just the family time that is important. They want their kids to know a life of activity and respect for the outdoors, expose them to new things and teach them about the world! Maggie and her family are no strangers to overcoming life's challenges. They've had to uproot their family several times when jobs have been lost in the economic crisis.
They also lovingly face the challenges of having a child diagnosed with special needs. Through all this, Maggie has learned to celebrate the good times and never take them for granted. Her family is everything to her, and she is incredibly grateful for every day she has with them and for every moment she has shared with them. Not a day goes by that she doesn’t tell them she loves them and how lucky she is to be her kids’ mommy. How sweet!

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PHILIPPINES: Sharing the Very Best of Our Selves–World Milksharing Week 2012

PHILIPPINES: Sharing the Very Best of Our Selves–World Milksharing Week 2012

Last week, a few breastfeeding advocate friends of mine alerted me and other moms to the fact that September 24th through the 30th of this year is World Milksharing Week. According to the official website, World Milksharing Week is held annually during the last week of September with this goal in mind: “to celebrate milksharing and to promote human milk as the biologically normal nourishment for babies and children.” You can read more about how the idea for this came about here. The theme for this year’s Milksharing Week is “Sharing Milk, Nurturing Community.”

Even though I consider myself pro-breastfeeding (I don’t think I can qualify as a true-blue advocate yet) and even have quite a number of blog posts about it, milksharing is something that I never really gave a serious thought about before. That was, until I read about breast milk donations, especially during times of emergencies. (You can read a bit about them here and here.) I realized that breastfeeding truly does save lives and formula milk donations could prove hazardous to the health of children affected by disasters such as typhoons and earthquakes.

Think about it: When people are stuck in evacuation centers or refugee camps, there is usually a shortage of food supplies and clean water. Diarrhea outbreaks are very common and spread easily due to the lack of proper health care and sanitation systems. According to this article on Protecting babies in emergencies: the role of the public, “babies who are not breastfed are very likely to contract diarrhea-causing illnesses from unclean water and, with a weakened immune system and limited treatment, many will die.” (more…)

Tina Santiago-Rodriguez (Philippines)

Tina Santiago-Rodriguez is a wife and homeschool mom by vocation, a licensed physical therapist by education and currently the managing editor of Mustard, a Catholic children's magazine published by Shepherd's Voice Publications in the Philippines, by profession. She has been writing passionately since her primary school years in Brunei, and contributes regularly to several Philippine and foreign-based online and print publications. She also does sideline editing and scriptwriting jobs, when she has the time. Find out more about Tina through her personal blogs: Truly Rich Mom and Teacher Mama Tina.

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JAPAN: In Review

It’s that time of year again. New Year’s is the biggest holiday on the Japanese calendar, and as it approaches Japanese TV is full of “talent” (celebrities with no actual, recognizable talent) reflecting on the year that has passed.

And it’s been an awful one for everyone in eastern Honshu.

So I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on the things I am thankful for thus far in 2011:

-I’m thankful we didn’t die in the earthquake on March 11. For two or three minutes there, I wasn’t so sure.

-I’m thankful my son was home with the flu that day. So many children ended up spending the night at school and daycare because their parents were unable to come home from work. Not to mention the parents who never came, or the children who never made it home from school. (more…)

Melanie Oda (Japan)

If you ask Melanie Oda where she is from, she will answer "Georgia." (Unless you ask her in Japanese. Then she will say "America.") It sounds nice, and it's a one-word answer, which is what most people expect. The truth is more complex. She moved around several small towns in the south growing up. Such is life when your father is a Southern Baptist preacher of the hellfire and brimstone variety. She came to Japan in 2000 as an assistant language teacher, and has never managed to leave. She currently resides in Yokohama, on the outskirts of Tokyo (but please don't tell anyone she described it that way! Citizens of Yokohama have a lot of pride). No one is more surprised to find her here, married to a Japanese man and with two bilingual children (aged four and seven), than herself. And possibly her mother. You can read more about her misadventures in Asia on her blog, HamakkoMommy.

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