Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.
I'm Doug Johnson. On our show this week:
We hear some award-winning country music …
Answer a question about rescue and recovery teams …
And report about the building of new houses on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Habitat for Humanity
Last week, Habitat for Humanity International carried out a project in Washington, D.C., called "America Builds on the National Mall. Faith Lapidus tells us about this effort to help victims of Hurricane Katrina.
In August, Hurricane Katrina destroyed hundreds of thousands of houses in the Southern United States. The storm left more than one million people without permanent shelter. Last week, volunteers built the walls for new houses for fifty-one of these homeless families.
They did so in a very special place – near the Washington Monument on the National Mall in Washington.
The volunteers were from Habitat for Humanity, an independent organization. It has been building homes for poor families in the United States and around the world for the past twenty-nine years.
Habitat for Humanity has built more than two hundred thousand houses in almost one hundred countries. Volunteers are people who give their time and skills to build these houses.
For this special project, Habitat for Humanity groups in each state were chosen to come to Washington to build a house. Each day, groups of volunteers from four states built the frames for four houses. At the end of the week, the fifty-one houses represented each of the United States and the District of Columbia. The houses were carefully packed for shipping and placed on large trucks. The trucks took the houses to communities along the Gulf Coast area of the United States.
Kelle Shultz is the director of one of the busiest Habitat for Humanity groups in the state of Tennessee. She traveled to Washington with twenty volunteers from her office. Ms. Shultz first became interested in Habitat for Humanity when a friend invited her along on a trip to build houses in Nicaragua. When she got back to the United States, Ms. Shultz applied to become the director of her hometown Habitat for Humanity office. She says the trip was a life-changing experience for her.
Ms. Shultz hopes that the "America Builds on the National Mall" project will also be a life-changing experience for the fifty-one families who will receive the houses. However, it will be a very long time until all of the families displaced by Hurricane Katrina will have homes.
Rescue and Recovery Teams
Our question this week comes from a listener in Vietnam. Pham Hong Hai wants to know about urban rescue and recovery teams. American rescue and recovery teams assist after explosions, earthquakes, storms and other natural disasters in many parts of the world.
The Fire and Rescue Department of Fairfax County, Virginia is one of two groups the United States government sends to help in disasters in other countries. It is also one of twenty-eight organizations deployed in disasters across the United States by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA.
One recent example is their work following powerful storms that struck the Gulf Coast area of the United States in August. Severe flooding destroyed parts of the city of New Orleans, Louisiana. Urban rescue and recovery workers treated injuries, rescued survivors, and provided food and water to people who had to leave their homes.
In October, a huge earthquake struck northern Pakistan. A small team from Fairfax County was sent to coordinate rescue efforts.
Fairfax County, Virginia and the Metro-Dade County Fire Department in Miami, Florida first formed urban rescue and recovery teams in the nineteen eighties. These teams were trained especially for rescue work in fallen buildings.
Commanders plan the operations. Technical and structural experts work to make rescue attempts safe for the rescue workers. Searchers look for victims, alive or dead. Rescuers try to pull the victims from the wreckage. Medical workers treat the injured.
Dogs do an important part of the work of urban search and rescue teams. Dogs can move into areas that are too small or too dangerous for people. They use their sharp sense of smell to find victims. Then they signal their success to their handlers. Some dogs are taught to bark when they make a discovery. Others lie down.
Urban rescue and recovery teams continue to provide assistance to communities after disasters. The teams provide security to the area. They also help people to rebuild their communities.
The American Country Music Association presented its yearly awards last week in New York City. This was the first time the awards ceremony was held outside Nashville, Tennessee, the home of country music. Pat Bodnar has some of the award-winning music.
PAT BODNAR: The biggest winner of Country Music Association Awards this year was Lee Ann Womack. She won three awards for musical event with George Strait, album of the year and single of the year. The single was on Womack's award-winning album, "There's More Where That Came From." It is called "I May Hate Myself In The Morning."
Another big winner this year was Australian singer Keith Urban. He won two awards — male singer of the year and entertainer of the year. Here he sings from his latest album, "Be Here." The song is called "Days Go By".
Jerry Douglas was another Country Music Association Award winner this year. He was named musician of the year. Douglas plays an unusual stringed instrument called a dobro with the group Union Station. We leave you now with Jerry Douglas playing the song "When Papa Played The Dobro."
I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program.
Our show was written by Lawan Davis, Katherine Gypson and Nancy Steinbach. Caty Weaver was our producer.
Send your questions about American life to [email protected] Please include your full name and mailing address. Or write to AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA Special English, Washington, D.C., two-zero-two-three-seven, U.S.A.
Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.