Elsbeth Schrepfer paints the window frame of house #972. "This experience has been extraordinary," she says.
Photo by George Hipple

Swiss Member of Parliament
Journeys to South Africa

By Leanne McElroy

Elsbeth Schrepfer wears many hats. In addition to being a wife, mother of four and schoolteacher, she is a member of the Swiss Parliament. In Switzerland, members of parliament also hold civilian employment, and Elsbeth teaches French, art and history to students ages 13-16. Here in Durban she is discovering a new hat—a construction hardhat.

With breaks from both parliament and school coming up, Elsbeth searched the Internet for an interesting volunteer opportunity. At the Habitat for Humanity Web site, she discovered a wonderful chance to build homes for those in need and, surprisingly, a former student. Marcel Hagmann, director of Habitat for Humanity South Africa, is also a former Latin student of Elsbeth’s.

Inspired by the idea of Habitat and the chance to visit with a former student, Elsbeth traveled to Africa prior to the JCWP build to volunteer in Johannesburg office. Back now for the build, she is an active part of the construction team on house #972. “This experience has been extraordinary…to be part of a team. I really feel useful,” she says. “I love being able to help the homeowner.”

—Leanne McElroy is communications manager for HFHI’s Europe/Central Asia area office


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