Desmond Tutu makes special trip to Habitat site in South Africa

MFULENI – Archbishop Desmond Tutu paid a special visit to a Habitat for Humanity build site in South Africa in May.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

The Nobel Peace Prize recipient was in Mfuleni near Cape Town in honor of the first “Desmond Tutu Community Build.” Archbishop Tutu thanked more than 100 volunteers from around the world who gathered to build 12 homes in partnership with local families for the event.

“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.”

The South African Cleric, who is most famous for his activism as an opponent of the apartheid during the 1980s, has been a patron of Habitat for Humanity South Africa since 2002. That year Jimmy Carter visited South Africa for Habitat for Humanity’s annual Jimmy Carter Work Project (JCWP). Similar to 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.

Since 1996, Habitat for Humanity South Africa (HFH 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, which translates as, “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 plants 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 HFH 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.”

Since 1996, HFH South Africa has built close to 1,800 houses in Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Gauteng/NorthWest provinces, providing shelter for 8,000 people across the country.