Korean volunteers arrive at the site of the second Blue Sky Build, a Habitat for Humanity event that brought 20 new homes to Mongolia.

Habitat for Humanity volunteers are still wiping the dust from their hands after the July 2-7 Blue Sky Build project, which brought 20 new homes to families in Mongolia

“We are most thankful for the passion of our volunteers and the commitment of our sponsors in making the Blue Sky Build a success,” said Charles Jolliffe, director of Habitat for Humanity Mongolia, in a news release.

The new homes built during the second Blue Sky Build are part of the Atlanta-based organization’s goal to construct 1,000 houses in Mongolia in the next three years.

More than 300 volunteers turned out to the build site in the Khan-Uul district, a suburb of the Mongolian capital, Ulaanbaatar.International volunteers, 190 in all, represented nations as diverse as New Zealand, Cambodia, Nepal, Germany, the U.S. and the United Kingdom.

An additional 150 locally-based volunteers from PricewaterhouseCoopers Mongolia Corp. and Wagner Asia Equipment LLC, students from Technical and Technological College Co. Ltd., and members of the U.S. Peace Corps and Joint Christian Services joined in the work.

Houses were built with polystyrene blocks which offer better insulation than concrete and highly efficient coal-burning stoves that produce heat four times as long as standard stoves.

The homes were decorated with streamers and balloons for an emotional move-in day. To date, Habitat for Humanity Mongolia has built, renovated or repaired more than 2,000 homes in the Asian country.

Housing in Mongolia has become a serious issue as the country continues to grow at a staggering rate. The International Monetary Fund projects a 17.2 percent growth rate this year alone, spurred by foreign investors flocking to the country’s rich mineral deposits including gold, copper and coal.

Displaced Mongolians are forced to pitch their gers, or traditional felt tents, in slum-like suburban districts where they burn tires and other fuel to stay warm, leading to increased air pollution and health issues in the capital.

During a visit to Mongolia this week, American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised the country’s perseverance in creating a vibrant democracy while bordering China and Russia, though she failed to elaborate on a rocky election held June 28. 

GlobalAtlanta traveled to Mongolia in 2011 to report on the country’s rapid growth and the U.S. ambassador there, Jonathan Addleton, whose family hails from Georgia. Read the special report at www.globalatlanta.com/mongoliareport.

For more on Habitat for Humanity, visit www.habitat.org. For more on Habitat’s work in Mongolia and the country’s housing problems, read Mongolia’s New Urbanites Hunt for Homes.