The Purpose-Driven Slum at Habitat for Humanity

A space at Habitat for Humanity in Americus is set aside to teach visitors about improving housing in the world.

By Jim Miles

To help eliminate global poverty, they built a slum, and tourists did come.

In 1976 millionaire Millard Fuller gave away his fortune and opened Habitat for Humanity, its goal to help poor partner families build decent, affordable housing with no interest or profit involved.  Over 150,000 houses have been constructed in 70 countries by volunteers in 1400 communities.  One million families have been helped.

The Americus based organization obviously relies on contributions, so to illustrate their work Habitat has constructed a generic Third World slum called Global Village and Discovery Center.  A narrow lane twists through the tumble down structures, constructed of corrugated tin and plywood, the interiors largely bereft of furniture, with thin mattresses and meager possessions littering the floor.  This disturbing scene could be mistaken for a real one in rural Africa, Asia, or Latin America.

Fortunately, the display ends on a high note, with recreations of homes Habitant constructs in a number of counties.  The Guatemalan house is constructed of concrete and steel to resist hurricanes, and the Papua New Guinea home, built with pressed earth bricks, sits atop wooden stilts.  There is an area where visitors can make bricks and tiles.

Experience the center at 721 West Church Street, Americus, GA 31709. Phone: 1-800-422-4828, ext. 7937 (toll-free) Email:

From Weird Georgia (Sterling, 2006).

Jim Milesufossavannah is the author of two Weird Georgia books, seven books about Georgia ghosts and eight books about the Civil War. To see all of his books go to the Jim Miles Author Page on Amazon. Order autographed books or contact Jim directly at


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