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Habitat for Humanity Great Britain rises to the Challenge

During the week of January 27, 2008, a team of 16 volunteers from Habitat for Humanity Great Britain (HFHGB) were in Tanzania for the Board and Patrons Zanzibar Challenge 2008. Among the volunteers was Ian Walkden, the national director of HFHGB, as well as HFHGB Patrons, including the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, and members of the HFHGB Board of Trustees.


Substandard housing in Kitope, Zanzibar.



The Royal Duchess of Gloucester helps build a wall.



Volunteers during the build.

The event kicked-off with a Reception Dinner at the residence of the British High Commissioner for Tanzania that was attended by government officials, diplomats, and various NGO partners. Mamma Ana Mkapa, the Patron of Habitat for Humanity Tanzania was also present. During the beginning of the week, volunteers visited the program in Maji Matitu, a community on the edge of Dar es Salaam that provides decent, affordable housing to a group of teachers and their families.

The highlight of the week was a four-day build that took place in Kitope, Zanzibar, a small village of about 2,000 people. Kitope is a new project area for Habitat for Humanity Tanzania. The project started after community members from Kitope requested a partnership with HFHT after hearing of HFHT’s work in a neighboring community. During the build, the volunteers helped build ten homes alongside community members and partner families.

Saleman Saleh Robert was one resident of Kitope whose home was built that week. Prior to building his new home, Saleman lived with his wife, Mwatum, and their two young children in a makeshift mud house that he built on his own. Though he lived in the house for nine years, the structure was starting to wear down, raising Saleman’s concerns. He knew that the house would become an increasingly insufficient barrier against the elements and disease. He also knew that he could not improve his circumstances without some assistance.

“All I need is help to build a decent home for my growing family. I have tried to do it alone but all I can afford is this,” he explained. “I want to improve the conditions we live in…termites have already started eating away at my walls. In five years, there will be nothing left.” Together with HFHT, Saleman was able to provide himself, his wife and his children with the type of home everyone deserved.

By week’s end, Saleman joined the other families, community members and volunteers in a joyous community-wide celebration that included house dedication ceremonies. As HFHT continues to grow its program in Zanzibar, there will surely be more reasons to celebrate in Kitope and beyond.