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Foundations: June 2009 -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

Foundations: June 2009

The promise of partnerships
From Habitat CEO Jonathan Reckford



Eliminating poverty housing around the world is Habitat for Humanity International’s awesome, ambitious goal. Every day, as houses go up and barriers to better lives come down, we make a difference. But building a world of simple, decent homes requires more than Habitat alone. We all must work together—partner families, volunteers, supporters, friends.

This issue of Habitat World takes us to Africa, where partnerships are broadening our reach by helping us to identify the daily tragedies that stand between families and decent housing. It’s so inspiring to see how God is working through Habitat and our partners in transformational ways.

In South Africa, for example, I have seen with my own eyes the devastation that HIV/AIDS has wrought. Some 12 million children in sub-Saharan Africa have already been orphaned by AIDS, and the number is rising rapidly.

Keeping the family together in the same community is important for the psychological and physical well-being of children. But the family house can sometimes have mud floors, leaking roofs and unsanitary conditions. That’s where Habitat comes in.

In the South African community of KwaXimba, I was deeply touched by my visit to a program specially designed for these children who have been left behind, a collaboration between Habitat and a local group. Because better housing is an urgent priority, Habitat has focused on shelter while our partner group has supervised caregiver training, monitored the children’s welfare, and worked to acquire grants and housing subsidies.

Similarly, in Lesotho, as we report in this issue, Habitat’s church partners are helping to identify children most in need, while other partners help to meet the children’s ongoing health and education needs.

We need look no further than our own strategic plan to find clear expression of the role this kind of partnership must play: “Mobilizing people, and financial and social capital, Habitat for Humanity International will demonstrate the love and teachings of Jesus Christ by serving as a partner and catalyst for worldwide access to decent, safe, affordable housing.”

This means we have to cultivate partnerships between Habitat and the families we want to serve—and between volunteers, donors, churches and community groups, government agencies, corporations, and other organizations.

Truly, the need is great. But by building strong and effective partnerships as well as houses, Habitat can do much toward giving children in all circumstances a better start in life.