• 27 Mar 2018

Being back in Umgababa, Kwazulu Natal and building atop the garden city’s exquisite rolling hills has been a highlight of our Build Event calendar this year. In partnership with construction company, Dezzo Holdings, we had a group of 19 Japanese students from Habitat Japan’s Campus Chapter join hands with Thuli Nkumbula and her family in Hlanzeni from 19 – 30 April.

Thuli Nkumbula, 30, stays with her mom Maniza Masoka, 55, and the rest of her family of eight in a substandard shack in Hlanzeni, Umgababa. The youngest member of this family is aged 3 with the oldest, aged 81.

This family face daily hardships as none of them have employment and they depend on the old age grant of Maniza and her 81 year old mother, Tholakele, to survive. This grant is barely enough to meet the needs of this family. Although Thuli finished her Grade 12 she was unable to pursue her studies due to the lack of funds.

Their informal dwelling consists of wooden pallets and a zinc roof. There are no windows and only one door. Living in their former home has many challenges, especially during the rainy season when water pours in.

It is extremely cold in winter due to lack of insulation and this affects the health of the family. When Thuli was asked about the opportunity to have her house built and how it will change her and her family’s lives, she said, “We applied for this house in 2011. Unfortunately, we have never had a chance to afford to build our own house. Just hearing that we are going to have our home built has changed our life and our thoughts toward greatness.”

“Winter is on its way and fortunately this time my family will be safe,” she added. Maniza thanks God for this opportunity, “We praise a living God, who have a plan for all of us. This moment is our time,” Maniza emphasised her happiness at the building of their home.

Although Thuli’s father and Maniza’s husband passed away after a long illness, he would have been extremely grateful that his family would finally have a decent place to live.

The students worked meticulously from the start of the week with the new home ready for its roof by the Wednesday. ‘Rains down in Africa’ diverted the build activities to ‘Plan B’, critical upgrades to the Ngcobo family’s home. Internal walls had to be prepared for brickforce application and damp proofing and a trench was dug outside the home in an attempt to channel water away from the home when the rainy season starts.

It has been incredible to witness the collaboration and exchange of skills between the students and the builders/artisans as they have worked alongside each other. Two very different cultures coming together as one with a joint mission of building strength, stability and self-reliance for those in need, together. This interaction is often the beauty of these Global Village Build events and Volunteer Build Events like them – lives are transformed and cultural divides are transcended.

Thank you to African Exposure and Habitat for Humanity Japan for coordinating this group of students and for making a difference in the life of the Masoka and Ngcobo families.