Chuck Oldanie, second from the left, poses for a photo May 12 in Mumbai, India, with, from left, Naresh Karmalker, director of the capital campaign IndiaBUILDS for Habitat for Humanity India; M.P. Singh, president of the Bandra Rotary Club in Mumbai; Lata Subraida, District 3140 governor for Rotary International; and Awista Ayab, director of South Asia programs for Seeds of Peace.
SEMINOLE – Like so many people, Chuck Oldanie has a vision for world peace.
But unlike most folks, Oldanie is doing something about it.
As a member of the Seminole Lake Rotary Club, the 71-year-old Seminole Realtor is trying to do his part by helping to team up youths from around the world in Habitat for Humanity building projects. He calls it global collaboration.
The youth builds also involve members of Seeds of Peace, an international organization whose goal is to develop new generations of leaders inspired by peace, as well as support from Rotary Clubs International.
Seeds of Peace brings together youths from Palestine and Israel, as well as kids from Pakistan and India.
According to its website, Seeds of Peace “sets the standard in international peace-building by providing youths and educators from regions of conflict to meet their historic enemies face-to-face at an international camp in Maine.”
From there, the seeds of peace are planted.
Governments, Oldanie said, negotiate treaties but peace is made by people.
“It’s about building relationships and forging relationships,” said Oldanie, who has been involved in Habitat projects for 10 years. “We’re trying to facilitate the whole thought of world peace through putting people of different cultures together building relationships.”
On May 12, Oldanie participated in a one-day youth build in Mumbai, India. Five hundred volunteers came together across India that day to build 45 homes for low-income families.
Altogether, about 5,000 youth volunteers helped that day with Habitat’s efforts to help more than 500 families in India, China, Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand.
Oldanie helped at a site near Mumbai where eight homes were built. Each home has three rooms and about 900-square-feet of space. The cost is about $2,000 per home.
The effort included 13 members of Seeds of Peace, ages 18 to 22, all from Mumbai. Efforts to get an equal number of Seeds of Peace volunteers from Pakistan failed due to visa issues in Pakistan.
“Altogether, there were about 150 working on the build,” said Oldanie.
In addition to the youths, it included young workers from Dow Chemicals and Bloomberg Financial in the United States.
Oldanie said one room in each house was dedicated for use as a prayer room. And due to the strong customs of Hinduism, Oldanie and other volunteers had to take off their shoes before performing work in the room, where it was a little more comfortable than the outside temperature.
“It was hot,” he said. “It was about 105 degrees. I was fortunate enough to be painting in the shade.”
Oldanie said the only water available was stored outside the homes not far from where community toilets were located.
He said the construction technique used was similar to other areas of the world where mud is mixed with concrete to form a strong brick.
The project he helped with included a $1,000 donation from a Rotary Club in Mumbai – one of about 100 clubs in the area, he said.
Oldanie has been involved in past Habitat builds in Bay St. Louis, Miss.; Mexico, Haiti and Belize.
It was after a recent build in Belize that Oldanie realized the importance of different cultures coming together for one purpose under the banner of peace.
“Whenever you get people of different faiths side by side and get Rotary and Habitat involved, it works,” he said. “We use building of houses as an instrument to build peace and relationships.
“How far can this go, I don’t know. All I know is it works.”
Oldanie said plans are in the works for another youth build in the Holy Land – probably Jordan. No date is set but fundraising is under way.
Oldanie will give a presentation on the Rotary/Habitat/ Seeds of Peace effort at the next Rotary Club meeting Friday, June 29, 7:20 a.m., at Freedom Square.