In ‘Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City‘, Matthew Desmond says that “it is hard to argue that housing is not a fundamental human need. Decent, affordable housing should be a basic right for everybody in this country. The reason is simple: without stable shelter, everything else falls apart.” (Published March 1st 2016 by Crown)
It seems that South African society is rapidly falling apart at the moment. At the heart of this is poverty; particularly, housing poverty. Informal settlements continue to grow and people continue to live in unsafe and undignified conditions. Is it any wonder that the social fabric is breaking down and unleashing untold misery on many of our poor?
It is easy to be despondent, throw our hands in the air and give up in such conditions. But as Habitat for Humanity South Africa (HFHSA), we believe that with the collaboration and cooperation of various sectors, with long and hard slog and a supportive environment, the situation can be turned around.
Over the last few months, HFHSA has facilitated a number of Build Events in partnership with government, communities and corporate companies. In this edition we provide more information about these events. The common message arising from these Build Events is that as human beings, even from different cultures, classes, creeds and genders, we can uplift and support one another. Our country needs more of such events where we do practical and meaningful things together.
On 17 July 2019, I visited our Build Event in Umgababa in the South of KwaZulu Natal. I will never forget the experience I had visiting Gogo Thulengasho Ngcobo while her house was being built by volunteers. When there was a problem with water availability, Gogo Ngcobo went to her neighbours to collect water in a bucket on her head. As if that was not enough, she went ahead and started preparing lunch until she was informed that lunch was prepared. When I spoke to her she broke down, crying tears of joy. As the walls of her house went up, she could not contain her excitement and broke into an ululation.
The ululation was a sound of her fundamental human right being fulfilled. It was a sound of gratitude and appreciation. There is nothing more powerful and profoundly moving as being part of a process that changes another person’s life for the better.