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Habitat for Humanity representatives from Dominican Republic visit Adrian

Habitat for Humanity of Lenawee County hosted two visitors Monday from Habitat for Humanity in the Dominican Republic.

Cesarina Fabian, national director of Habitat for Humanity in the Dominican Republic, and Rossa Yvonne Nunez, resource development manager for the organization, ate breakfast with local Habitat members at Siena Heights University then toured an 1835 brick home that Habitat is renovating on Treat Highway in Madison Township.

Fabian and Nunez are on a weeklong visit to the United States that has included a Habitat conference in Ohio and the visit to Adrian, and will include visits to Wisconsin and Miami.

At the home on Treat Highway, Habitat of Lenawee executive director Robert Dister explained to Fabian and Nunez that the house had been gutted inside, new walls installed and insulated, and a sagging ceiling in one of the rooms leveled.

Work on the house is being done by construction trades students from the Lenawee Intermediate School District Tech Center. The renovated home will be occupied by a father and three children.

Habitat of Lenawee gives 10 percent of its nondesignated funds annually to the Dominican Republic Habitat. This tithe is a mandate for U.S. Habitat for Humanity affiliates.

The tithe typically comes to $3,000 to $4,000 a year, Dister said.

“It makes a real difference,” Nunez said of the funds.

The Dominican Republic Habitat also tithes its funds, she said.

Since 1986, Habitat in the Dominican Republic has helped 3,400 families to live in new or repaired homes, Nunez said.

The Dominican Republic has a population of about 10 million people, about 1 million of whom suffer from a housing deficit, Nunez said. About 60 percent of the housing deficit is because of housing that needs repairs and about 40 percent is because of overcrowding, she said.

“The need is mainly housing repair,” Nunez said.

There is little outright homelessness in the Dominican Republic, she said.

Habitat in the Dominican Republic now has put its emphasis on repairs rather than new construction in order to help more families, Nunez said. Since July of last year, the organization has repaired 301 homes.

Habitat in the Dominican Republic has a staff of 38 and many groups of international volunteers who come to help, Nunez said.

Besides international donations, the organization receives funds from wealthy individuals and large companies, but now also is trying to enlist the help of ordinary people, even if they can give only small amounts, Nunez said.

Dister said the visit from the Dominican Habitat representatives is important because, as a Christian organization, Habitat has a responsibility to connect with all the world, and the visit helps the local members get to know other members and opens up the possibility of sending a Habitat group to the Dominican Republic.