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Women building in Malawi

The banging of tools, sweat, non-stop work and laughter characterized Women Build 2006, held on October 14 in Area 49 in Lilongwe, Malawi. The day although hot and sunny did not deter women from building four houses to provide homes for four female headed households. Water bottles passed around as women volunteers refused to let the heat and thirst stand in the way of the day’s mission.

Community members and volunteers helping to build one of the house

 

Honourable Marjory Ngaunje working on one of the houses with one of the United Nations volunteers

 

Some of the women participants working on site during the build

The build was graced by the Minister of Health, Honourable Marjory Ngaunje (who stood in for the First Lady of Malawi) and brought together about thirty women from all walks of life including the government, civil society, media, UN agencies, corporate organizations, the church and other prominent international and local women to build four houses. The aim of the day was also to raise awareness about the need to eliminate poverty housing and provide decent housing, in particular to female headed households. Women headed households in Africa are often among the poorest of the poor.

Honourable Ngaunje expressed the need for Women Build to take place annually so that women can have more opportunities to take part in helping others and serve communities. She also challenged the homeowners in Area 49 to bring their resources together to build a clinic which her ministry would then furnish with much needed medical services since the area is far from any hospital.

Habitat for Humanity’s Board Chairperson Dorothy Ngoma urged homeowners to plant trees to prevent soil erosion and create shade for their families during the hot season. She also expressed the need for women and men to continue working together in providing the best for their families especially decent homes.

Portland Cement Limited, First Merchant Bank, Southern Bottlers and Lever Brothers sponsored the event, which made it possible for women to build the walls of four houses.

Maria Phiri woke up at 4:00 am, unusual for a normal Saturday so that she could be ready in time for the people who were coming to help her build her Habitat house. Maria is one of the four women who benefited from this day’s event. The other homeowners are Catherine Kantwanje who lives with her two daughters and three grand-children, Charity Chilemba a mother of two and Linda Phiri who has two boys and two girls.

‘When are we going to do this again?’ was the question on everyone’s lips at the end of the day.