According to Habitat for Humanity South Africa, a decent home is not merely bricks and mortar. A home is instrumental in breaking the cycle of poverty from one generation to the next by providing families with a safe, healthy environment in which to live and study, as well as providing a viable investment for the future.
But more than that, in the same way that individual bricks form the basis of houses, houses form the foundation of a community. Habitat for Humanity SA’s approach to contributing to housing in South Africa also aims to build communities around the homes they help construct.
“The unique feature of HFHSA is that we are invited to partner with community groups to help them meet a housing need that they have identified,” said Adrienne Burke, Habitat for Humanity SA’s National Marketing and Communications Officer. “Beneficiaries are selected based on their financial need and their willingness to partner with the community and HFHSA. In addition, a lengthy education and training process begins which is crucial to the development of the homeowners.”
HFHSA takes beneficiaries through a series of workshops covering areas such as budgeting, home maintenance and financial planning for the future which includes health and succession planning.
It is also a requirement that all beneficiaries contribute 60 hours of “sweat equity” – physically working on other homeowner’s houses – before qualifying for their own house. “Their sweat is in the walls of the homes whether they live there or not,” said Burke.
Further, when it comes to building the houses, HFHSA employs the artisans from the local community on site wherever possible. If the required skills don’t exist, the organisation provides on-site training for members of the community to equip them with the skills to find future employment or possibly start their own business.