Habitat for Humanity's Global Village & Discovery Center
HFH's slum simulation is either a noble recreation of poverty or a cringeworthy attempt at same.
Habitat for Humanity — the non-profit “Christian housing ministry” whose modus operandi consists of building efficient, sensible homes for the poverty stricken — has created its very own quasi-theme park, intended to give visitors a taste of how the truly impoverished live.
In effect, the park is a developing world slum in the middle of the American South, albeit without any humans who might go about their daily lives in such conditions. Instead, visitors wander through rows of corrugated sheds and precarious shacks built out of whatever supplies were thrown together to seem “at hand.” These shanties’ interiors are lined with un-powered electronics.
After negotiating the “before” scenes of artful squalor, the trail leads to an extensive portrait of the work Habitat for Humanity has done to remedy the world’s travesties, complete with a booklet for collecting visas from the sites. Houses from Tanzania, Haiti, Sri Lanka, Papua New Guinea, and more represent the stylistic and cultural adaptations of Habitat’s building projects. Smartphone-toting visitors are able to scan QR codes affixed to the one-room Habitat houses and pull up information on the non-profit’s work and cultural tidbits about the country represented.
The idea of the park is two-fold: Habitat is able to educate folks on the service it provides, while also recruiting for these programs by way of providing visitors with a “reality check.” Whether you find this presentation to be an over-simplification of a global problem or noble depiction of the realities of poverty, the Global Village & Discovery Center will not leave you without feelings.
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