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Staff writer

Friends told Millard Fuller that building and selling homes at no profit and without interest couldn’t work in the real world. But, he has fulfilled this dream, however fantastic.

In 1976, Fuller and his wife, Linda, founded Habitat for Humanity International, an organization to provide the poor with decent housing at an affordable price, he said in a speech Tuesday in Tokyo.

The nonprofit group builds houses with volunteer labor to ensure a decent price for the economically disadvantaged.

The philosophy of the organization is based on the Bible, which says someone lending money to the poor should not charge interest, according to Fuller.

Home-buyers are not required to pay any interest to HFHI, but instead must invest their own labor into the construction of their house and those for other families. The organization has built more than 60,000 houses for some 300,000 people around the world, he said.

Fuller is in Japan hoping to raise money, recruit volunteer builders and raise awareness of his organization.

“We are planning a project in the Philippines next March to build 250 houses within five days,” said Fuller, adding that about 6,000 builders from various countries are going to take part in the project. Fuller said he is hoping to attract more than 250 volunteers from Japan.

There are four campus chapters of HFHI now in Japan — two at Kwansei Gakuin University and one each at the Kyoto University of Foreign Studies and Doshisha University. “When I first participated last August in building a house in the Philippines, I thought I was helping them (HFHI),” said Mariko Sano, 20, of the campus chapter at the Kyoto university. “But I was the one who was given hope and love from the people there,” she said.

Fuller said the best thing about the organization is that in addition to providing decent housing to the poor, it brings people of different races, religions and nationalities together as a team.

For more information, call Pastor Barry Dawson of Tokyo Union Church at (03) 3400-0047.

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