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Building tomorrows -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

Building tomorrows

Through innovative programs and partnerships, Habitat reaches more families—and changes more futures—in Madagascar and Lesotho
By Teresa K. Weaver



The shadows of twilight overtake children at play in Maseru East, Lesotho. Habitat is working to find housing solutions for Maseru’s orphans and vulnerable children.


Africa, home to the vast majority of the world’s extreme poverty, is the fastest urbanizing region in the world, with an average annual growth rate of 3.71 percent. People are moving from rural areas to cities in search of a better life, but most arrive with little money or job training. Most end up living in slums.

Of the 42 million people worldwide who are living with HIV/AIDS, 70 percent are in sub-Saharan Africa. And of the 15 million children worldwide who have lost one or both of their parents to AIDS, 11.6 million of them live in sub-Saharan Africa, according to UNAIDS.

“The numbers almost lose their meaning when they get that big,” says Matthew Maury, former area vice president for Habitat for Humanity International’s Africa/Middle East office.

Working in 19 A/ME countries, Habitat has served more than 59,000 families. Staff and volunteers respond to complex crises with innovative programs that stay true to the core mission of providing safe, decent, affordable shelter—while also targeting the critical realities on the ground.

In the photographs and stories that follow, we visit two groundbreaking projects: an urban slum upgrade led by Habitat Madagascar that includes the construction of basic infrastructure along with single-family homes and a Habitat Lesotho project to build homes for households containing orphaned and vulnerable children.


“New Beginnings” and “Looking after the Least of These”

A short drive from the congested district surrounding Lesotho’s capital of Maseru, two new block homes connected by a breezeway are being prepared to provide safe, healthy shelter for 16 children who have been living in a garbage dump.

“I believe 20 years from now, these children are going to be in positions that matter,” says Shadrack Mutembei, national director of Habitat Lesotho. “They’re going to be key to the development of Lesotho.”

Even in such moments of triumph, though, there is sadness. When these 16 children finally move from a garbage dump to a home, more than a dozen others will be left behind.

“We’re trying to find a way to help them, too,” Mutembei says. “We’re trying.”