Younger generations inspire us to make our world a better place. Idealism is infectious and when paired with tangible delivery, meaningful change occurs.
Habitat for Humanity South Africa’s Young Changemakers Youth Build was a five-day volunteer build event where young people from different backgrounds come together to build safe, affordable homes for low-income South African families.
At the intersection of aspiration and action; this build event aims to instill a love of volunteering from an early age – laying the foundation for the rewards of a lifetime of service to others.
In commemoration of the Soweto Uprising on 16 June 1976, in which many school-going children were harmed while protesting against South Africa’s Apartheid and Bantu Education system, this Youth Build aimed to raise awareness, 42 years later, of the importance of the Youth having a voice against inequality and injustice. Habitat facilitates the coming together of the young and old to affect real, lasting change in their own lives and the lives of others.
Today, 11.9 million (64%) of South Africa’s child population lives in poverty. A study published in the South African Journal of Education (Pillay, J. 2017. vol 37, no. 2) shows findings that there is a significant relationship between housing conditions and learners’ educational outcomes in literacy. The negative impact of inadequate housing on children’s educational development inevitably reinforces the cycle of disadvantage and poverty.
Through a stable foundation, disadvantaged families are empowered to build a brighter future for themselves and their children and to break free from the cycle of poverty. The Build event is only part of the story. What evolves afterwards is the long-term impact we all hope for.
During the week of 18 – 22 June, Teleperformance South Africa, ICM and student volunteers from Westerford High School, Rondebosch Boys High School and Hoerskool DF Malan joined hearts and hands with three families in Bardale, Mfuleni in the Western Cape.
The Mageta Family
Before the build week, Thembelani and Thembisa Mageta shared their double bed with their two children, Linathi (11) and Mvane (4) in their one-room informal shelter.
They had had to make use of the family’s outside toilet at night and it was difficult for them to imagine a life where their house protects them from the elements: leaks, wind, heat and cold.
Thanks to the decent shelter provided by a brick and mortar home, Thembelani will no longer fear for his family’s safety, nor will they be at risk of fires, as they suffered in January earlier this year when they lost all of their possessions and had to rebuild.
During an interview before the build, Thembisa indicated that she was looking forward to the space, privacy and luxury of being able to wash her dishes and laundry inside the four walls of her own home. Basic human rights that this family had gone without for so many years… Her wish is for her house “to be beautiful and to have stuff such as tiles – like everyone else. A brick house will be life changing. No wind and sand, and a toilet in the house.”
The Ngxolashe Family
Further down the road, The Ngxolashe family had been on the housing waiting list for 8 years. In 2010, Lorna relocated to Bardale from Howell. They lived in a one-room informal shelter with their daughter. The serviced plot provided a flush toilet and tap in the yard. This meant that the family had to leave their shelter to wash, or to go to the toilet at night. Lorna expressed her excitement at the thought of having a flushing toilet inside her home.
Another challenge was the exposure to the elements, particularly sand and water that entered the informal structure through gaps and holes in the corrugated sheeting when the wind blew, or the rain poured. Lorna remembers watching her aunt’s home being built during a Habitat for Humanity SA Volunteer Build Event in 2008 and was looking forward to hosting volunteers on her site.
The Slera Family
Abongile Slera, together with his brother and girlfriend had been living together in a one-room informal shelter with the hope of receiving their own home from government since 2006.
The biggest concern that Abongile had with living in the shelter was that “Anything can happen here. Anyone can come in.” The door and window had no security gate or bars and the lock was bolted to a thin piece of metal sheeting.
In anticipation of the build, the brothers were looking forward to a house that is secure – safe from intruders and the elements. In winter, the rain leaked through gaps in the connecting corrugated sheeting and in summer, the metal would heat to boiling temperatures. With no protection of insulation, nights were cold and days were stiflingly hot.
In 2017, Abongile suffered from Tuberculosis (TB) as a result of his poor living conditions. “A house will mean that our furniture won’t get wet… and we will have a safe space for our kids to stay when they visit from the Eastern Cape”. Privacy and an indoor toilet were also highlights.
In a message on Facebook on the afternoon that he had volunteered, Hubert-Willem de Rouw, Teleperformance SA employee, sent a touching message of thanks to the HFHSA team and to the community Crew Leader, Linda who had made his day so memorable. It is often conveyed by volunteers that the build experience gives them an experience worth far more than they feel they put in… Ordinary citizens feel empowered and hopeful when they become more active in the solutions.
If you are interested in signing up a team for next year’s Youth Build in July, book here.