South Africa -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1
Nonceba Mnqumeni (right) with her neighbor outside her new Habitat house in Katlehong.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who is a Patron of Habitat for Humanity South Africa gives a talk during a build in Cape Town where 12 homes were built by over 100 volunteers.
A youth group building one of the five houses during the Youth Build held in Protea South in Soweto, South Africa
The Housing Need
Situated on the southern tip of Africa between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, the beautiful country of South Africa is hailed as ‘the miracle nation’ for its successful transition from an oppressive apartheid system to a democratic government in 1994.
Boasting abundant natural resources and excellent infrastructure, South Africa bears all the hallmarks of a highly developed country. However, considerable economic and social problems remain from the apartheid era and unemployment figures are high. One third of the population lives on less than $2 a day. Extreme poverty in rural areas continues to drive people to the cities in search of employment, with 57% of the population now living in overcrowded urban areas.
In the light of these issues and despite proactive government policies, almost ten million South Africans live in poverty housing. This is characterized by vast informal settlements known as ‘townships’ surrounding modern cities that resemble the most developed in the world. Occupants of townships (mostly black South Africans) often live without adequate services in overcrowded shacks pieced together with cardboard, corrugated iron and scrap wood.
Habitat for Humanity South Africa (HFHSA)
Since 1996, Habitat for Humanity South Africa (HFHSA) has built over 2200 houses in 17 communities across the country, in the Western Cape; Kwazulu-Natal; Gauteng and North West Province, providing shelter for 11,000 people and bringing volunteers together across racial, economic, cultural and social divides. The houses are made from cement blocks.
The traditional affiliate model has been replaced with a project model in which each project is uniquely tailored to suit the needs of the homeowner group, the environment and social conditions of the communities and the available funds.
A unique feature of HFHSA as an organization is that it is invited to partner with community groups and other organisations to help address an identified housing need. Once this partnership has been formalized a lengthy process of education and training begins. This is crucial to the development of the homeowner group and an important focus area of HFHSA’s ministry.
Twenty percent of South Africa’s population is infected with HIV/AIDS. HFHSA aims to build 60 new homes for AIDS orphans and vulnerable children, many of whom are living in appalling conditions. Some are taken in by elderly grandparents barely able to care for themselves, or by other family members already living in overcrowded housing. Others live alone in shacks that are falling down, with walls open to freezing winter winds and rain. The children typically sleep on the floor, with very little bedding. HFHSA has initiated OVC Projects in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.
Real Life Story
Octavia and her family were living with her mother in an overcrowded house with 10 people. Octavia was desperate for a home of her own, so was thrilled when she heard about Habitat for Humanity through a friend and her application was accepted in the Ethembeni project.
Octavia is now living in the new home with her two sons and their two cousins. Nkanyiso (22), the eldest, contributed some of the ‘sweat equity’ required from the families by HFHSA. He celebrated his birthday during the build and says the house is the best present he could have received!
The house is closer to Octavia's work, cutting down on transport costs. All of the family was looking forward to living in the Ethembeni community. They say they have an even closer bond now than before because of their collective participation in the project. They thank God and Habitat for Humanity for this opportunity to own their own home.
Location: Southern tip of the African continent
Climate: Semi Arid; sub-tropical along the coast
Population: 45.3 million
Economy: Main exports include gold, diamonds, chromium and other metals and automobiles
Religions: Christianity, Islam, indigenous beliefs
Languages: English, Zulu, Xhosa, Setswana, Sesotho, Afrikaans and other local dialects