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Savings Clubs Help Build Sense of Community Among Prospective JCWP Families

The Jimmy Carter Work Project community development team is working with 190 applicant families who have organized themselves into 30 savings groups, or stokvels (an Afrikaans term). Out of these 190 prospective homeowners, those who meet the full selection criteria will receive a house to be built during the week of the JCWP. Those families not selected for the first 100 houses will be eligible for the second phase of the development, when Habitat for Humanity South Africa will build an additional 200 houses.

Stokvels have proved an effective way to promote community ownership and accountability. The stokvel chairpersons (elected from within the group) have assumed the majority of responsibility for monitoring each member’s financial status, recording sweat equity hours and providing accountability to the selection process. The chairpersons meet weekly and demonstrate a deep commitment to the program. By February, the stokvels had saved a total of ZAR93,000 (about $8,057US).

It is truly exciting to see how these prospective homeowners have put the principles of partnership and commitment into action. A friendly spirit of competition has developed on the weekends between some of the savings groups. Members encourage one another to work harder every week, while the ongoing singing and banter reveals they are having fun in the process.

As future Habitat homeowners work together building their houses, they are also laying a solid foundation for their new community. Above: Volunteers and family members take turns preparing the foundation for a new house in Orange Farm, South Africa.


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