Mozambique -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1
Assarta Raule Mondlane with her nephew inside her house.
Assarta’s new Habitat home that she shares with her nephew.
The Housing Need
Mozambique has suffered a series of setbacks in its struggle to develop during 32 years of independence. After a 10 year liberation struggle starting in 1964, the country was embroiled in a 13-year guerilla war that took the lives of 1 million people and left 5 million displaced. Only with the rise of the ANC and the end of apartheid in South Africa, was Mozambique able to broker peace and disarm the guerillas in 1992.
During its 15 years of peace, Mozambique has had one of the fastest growing economies in the region, yet the country has a steep hill to climb. To make matters worse, in 2000, the country was devastated by the largest flood ever recorded in Africa which left in its wake half a million people homeless. Since the war, HIV/AIDS has been sweeping through the country, with an estimated 17% of the population infected in the country and as much as 30% or more in certain cities along transport lines. As a result of these deaths, children are left orphaned, often without adequate shelter and sometimes homeless.
Habitat for Humanity Mozambique (HFHMz)
Formed in 2000, Habitat for Humanity Mozambique (HFHMz) has worked with poor communities, local volunteers and international teams to build hundreds of houses in Maputo Province and up country in the provinces of Manica and Gaza.
HFHMz original houses were made of cement blocks, but the program changed its technique in the last few years to adopt local materials and methods in order to lower costs, increase efficiency and community involvement, and begin reaching the very poorest families in each community as rapidly as possible.
HFHMz is expanding its program and focusing on providing housing in partnership with the most vulnerable groups. All the current HFHMz housing projects are designed to fit with emergency programs for orphans and vulnerable children who have lost parents to HIV/AIDS. HFHMz provides housing, latrines, inheritance plans (legal; documents), construction training/housing maintenance, mosquito nets and water treatment kits to each of these families.
Further, the program partners with local organizations and churches on the ground that work with the families. HFHMz cannot provide complete care for families in emergency situations. With the help of organizations such as Kubatsirana (a local church organization), and Africare (an international organization),children receive food, education, training, health and basic social support from their neighbors and the community.
Real Life Story
Assarta Raule Mondlane's new house sits just beside her old one, on a well-swept dirt yard landscaped with rows of small rocks. Assarta, 31, is as meticulous with her new home as she is with the old, the one with the borrowed roof and the reed walls insulated with cardboard to block the wind. On these walls, three weeks ago, hung Assarta's high heeled shoes. Next to them hung small black tennis shoes that belong to Aderto, Assarta's 3-year-old nephew. She has been raising him since he was one month old. Even then the shoes were surprisingly clean despite their proximity to the red-dirt floor.
The heels now rest on the finished floor of Assarta's new home. A thin layer of dust belies the frequency of use. Four nights a week Assarta slips on her heels, ties Aderto's sneakers, and walks with him to the nearby Assembly of God Church. Thursdays Aderto plays while she sings. But Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays Aderto squeezes his eyes closed like the adults in prayer.
Assarta's schedule is as orderly as her home. As long as the wind isn't too strong, she sweeps her dirt yard as soon as she wakes, even before she washes her face and brushes her teeth. At 7 a.m. she takes one pill. She'll take another one at 7 p.m. just as she has since she started her anti-retroviral drugs 14 months ago.
Assarta, sick and thin, followed the advice she received at the local medical clinic, and on January 24, 2005, she was tested for HIV. She was alone when she learned that she was positive. She was afraid and cried a lot. More than one year later she started taking anti-retroviral drugs. She looks healthier now but still visits her doctor, Anita Maria Beatrice, every other month. She and nine other HIV positive patients ride in an ambulance for about an hour to the military hospital in the capitol city of Maputo.
She hopes to have a husband and a daughter one day. After 11 years of marriage and a divorce in 2001, Assarta currently has neither. In 2005, the same year she learned she was HIV positive, Assarta took in her brother Samuel's infant son, Aderto. When Aderto's mother left for Swaziland she left the baby with Assarta, who has cared for him ever since.
Location: South East Africa
Population: 19.5 million
Climate: Tropical to subtropical
Economy: Industries include food, beverages, chemicals, petroleum products, textiles, cement, glass, asbestos, tobacco
Government: Multiparty republic
Religion: Christianity, Islam, Indigenous beliefs
Languages: Portuguese, Makua-Lomwe, Tsonga, Shona, Swahili