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Youth build together in South Africa to effect lasting change

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Vusumzi Ngqabavu in the shack where he lived before his Habitat for Humanity house was built. Picture: HFHI/Tahila Mintz

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Vusumzi, Olwethu and Wala in front of their new home. Picture: HFHI/Tahila Mintz

SOUTH AFRICA, 11 June 2010: In the week before the Soccer World Cup opening game in South Africa, the world learns new words such as Ke Nako and Vuvuzela.

The youth participating in the 2010 National Youth Build in Mfuleni in the Western Cape also learn a couple of new words in Xhosa: Molo! Uphilile? Ndiyakunceda?

Hello! How are you? Can I help you?

This is what the Youth Build is about: Giving the youth of South Africa to cross barriers and borders and get involved in the communities around them to help.

From 6 to 12 June about 1 800 young boys and girls built 24 houses in three provinces Mfuleni, Orange Farm and Umgababa.

“I think it was a great success,” says Andrew van der Walt, Volunteer Coordinator for Habitat for Humanity South Africa in the Western Cape region.

“One of our goals was to bring a diverse group of youths together so that they can interact while helping others. We brought kids from different cultures together for a week of hard work and it shows that cultural divides can be overcome.”

Big sponsors came to the party to make the Youth Build a reality. The Telkom Foundation, PPC (Gauteng), Hetzner Online (Germany & South Africa), HFH Southwark ( England) and Valspar SA all donated towards the 24 houses. Most of the schools and institutions that helped build also had their own fundraisers to cover the costs of the houses built.

The week of building also changed the perspectives and the lives of the youth involved.

“I heard a lot about these builds and the good it does, but I wanted to participate as well,” says Sarah Durr (18) from Springfield Convent School in Wynberg in Cape Town. “In winter it gets horribly cold here and I don’t think you realize the situation until you see it for yourself.”

For Vusumzi Ngqabavu (30) from Mfuleni, the new house will make his life so much easier.

“In the winter, our roof leaks all the time. We have to put plastic covers everywhere to keep it dry. Still, we get wet and cold and my children get sick,” he says.

Vusumzi has two children Singalakha (5) and Wala (2) with Olwethu Kama. They lived in a shack at the back of their plot until their house was built during the 2010 Youth Build.

Andrew promises that next year’s Youth Build will be even bigger and better.

“I hope this won’t be the last time you visit these families,” he says as parting words to the children who helped build the houses. “I hope you will be back next year.