Habitat for Humanity to open slum 'theme park' By Broward Liston, Reuters, 6/1/2003 RELATED INFORMATION ORLANDO, Fla. (Reuters) - Habitat for Humanity, the nonprofit group that builds low-cost housing, is opening an unorthodox ''theme park'' at its world headquarters this week designed to give tourists a look at the world's worst slums. Millard Fuller, founder of the organization, said he expects the Global Village & Discovery Center to attract as many as 70,000 tourists in its first year of operation. ''Essentially, it's a theme park for poverty housing,'' Fuller told Reuters. ''You'll come out of the center and walk right into a slum. You'll see the kind of pitiful living conditions so many people in the world have.'' After touring mock slums from Africa, Asia and Central America, visitors to the Global Village will see examples of the modest homes Habitat builds in those regions. ''You see what a steep improvement acceptable housing makes in someone's life. We think we'll recruit a lot of volunteers this way,'' Fuller said. Visitors can imagine children sleeping in shacks infested with scorpions or snakes. With no roller coasters or Ferris wheels, the thrills come from trying your hand at brick making and tile laying, and, Fuller hopes, discovering how one person can make a difference. The 6.5-acre village is adjacent to Habitat for Humanity's international headquarters in Americus, Georgia, which has no tourist facilities but attracts about 12,000 visitors a year. Habitat is perhaps best known for its work in the United States, but it sends about 400 teams staffed by volunteers overseas each year. The volunteers live with local families while they build new homes. RIDING A FORMER PRESIDENT'S COATTAILS The Global Village is near another unlikely tourist attraction in rural Georgia, a Sunday morning Bible-study class taught by former President Carter in neighboring Plains. As many as 20,000 tourists a year show up at tiny Maranatha Baptist Church, where Fuller is a member. Carter, who leads a weeklong home-building project for Habitat every year, will be on hand for the grand opening of the Global Village Saturday. Dick Kuegeman, Global Village executive director, said capturing some of the tourists who visit Carter sites is part of the strategy. ''The folks who come over in this direction are people who are socially aware,'' Kuegeman said. ''It's a different audience from the audience who makes their sole destination a ride park.'' Habitat for Humanity was founded in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller. The organization's profile was raised dramatically in 1984 when Carter led a work group to New York to renovate a six-story building with 19 needy families.