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Archbishop Desmond Tutu visits Habitat for Humanity build site in South Africa

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007, Archbishop Desmond Tutu shares an inspirational message with Habitat for Humanity volunteers and homeowners during the homebuilding organization’s “Desmond Tutu Community Build” in Mfuleni outside Cape Town, South Africa.
Picture by Mark Wessels

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (May 30, 2007) — Nobel Peace Prize recipient Archbishop Desmond Tutu visited a Habitat for Humanity build site in the Mfuleni community near Cape Town today to thank more than 100 volunteers from around the world who gathered this week to build 12 homes in partnership with local families for the first “Desmond Tutu Community Build.”

The South African cleric and activist rose to worldwide fame during the 1980s as an opponent of apartheid. He kept hope alive in the hearts and minds of millions of South Africans with his powerful vision that justice would come and that one day all South Africans would be free.

Archbishop Tutu has been a patron of Habitat for Humanity South Africa since 2002, when former U.S. President Jimmy Carter visited South Africa for Habitat for Humanity’s annual Jimmy Carter Work Project (JCWP). As with the JCWP, the Desmond Tutu Community Build brings together volunteer groups from around the world and the local community to build houses alongside the future homeowners.

“Sometimes, God looks down on the world … at Sudan, or Zimbabwe, or Burma … and he says ‘why do my children treat each other like this,’” Tutu told the crowd. “God looks down on the world today and sees you. And a little angel goes up and wipes a tear from God’s eye. God smiles, because he sees you doing this fantastic work.”

Since 1996, Habitat for Humanity South Africa has built nearly 1,800 houses in the country, providing shelter in partnership with 8,000 people and bringing together people across racial, economic, cultural and social boundaries. Mfuleni, “a river stream” in English, is a relatively new township about 25 miles from Cape Town. It has become known as a community of shack dwellers because the majority of its residents reside in overcrowded house structures made of tin with no formal water supply, electricity or toilets. Habitat for Humanity plans to build a total of 250 houses here in the next two years with the local community.

“Archbishop Tutu is a well-known and respected figure around the world,” said Matthew Maury, area vice president for Habit for Humanity in Africa and the Middle East. “We are honored that he was able to join us today, and we hope this event will raise awareness of poverty housing issues in South Africa, throughout Africa and the rest of the world and show that when we all work together each one of us can make a contribution to solving the housing problem facing millions of families across Africa.”

About Habitat for Humanity International
Habitat for Humanity International is an ecumenical Christian ministry that welcomes to its work all people dedicated to the cause of eliminating poverty housing. Since its founding in Americus, Georgia, USA, in 1976, Habitat has built more than 225,000 houses in nearly 100 countries providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than 1 million people. For more information, visit www.habitat.org.

Habitat for Humanity South Africa
Habitat for Humanity South Africa is a nonprofit Christian organization that works in partnership with communities to help families living in poverty housing to build and own simple, decent and affordable houses. Since 1996, the organization has built close to 1,800 houses in the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Gauteng/Northwest provinces, providing shelter for 8,000 people across the country and bringing together people across racial, economic, cultural and social boundaries.