‘Habitat’ brings hope and housing

Habitat for Humanity volunteers at work. The volunteers has started building house with the aim of building 2000 houses in Bardale.

A completely new Bardale township in Mfuleni is on the cards following an undertaking by Habitat for Humanity South Africa and the provincial governmenton Monday October 3 which marked World Habitat Day. The more than 2 000 houses to be built in the area will bring relief to thousands of families living in squalor in the informal settlement.

Beneficaries and housing stakeholders in the area welcomed the move saying it would bring a dignity and hope to the community.

For more than 10 years residents of Bardale informal settlement, have lived in shacks which are on serviced sites. This major housing project already completed more than 22 houses in a week.

Brian Hillard, chairperson of Habitat for Humanity South Africa said the new development would have a positive impact on people’s lives. He said he was excited that what started as a dream to help underprivileged people a few years ago had matured into a fully fledged programme.

He said his organisation joined the United Nations to raise awareness about the right to decent shelter for all. “We believe we are in the ideal place. Our mission is to bring dignity and hope to people. We advocate quality and affordable houses. This is an exciting moment for us,” he said.

Head of Department for Human Settlements, Thando Mguli was equally excited about the inititative.

He said as much as the government would love to build houses for everyone, funding was a problem and so he welcomed partnerships with organisations which wanted to help government address the housing backlog.

“We view NGOs like Habitat as an important component and a strategic partner to deliver housing. But when we build houses we need to give them to the most deserving people – not young people. We need to provide houses to the over-40s and, of course, people with disabilities,” he said.

Where they were unable to build houses, he said, the Human Settlements Department would upgrade informal settlements. “We must provide serviced sites, access to electricity and water. That will better the situation of our peple,” he said.

On Monday, after the launch of the programme, beneficiary Monica Makhetha was in a happy mood. The thrilled Bardale residentsaid for more than 10 years she and her familiy had had to to endure living in a shack.

“We are so pleased with the help from Habitat for Humanity. The day I was told we going to get a house I could not believe. I have experienced a lot of bad things about living in a shack. Just last year I experienced fire taking down structures here. My neighbour was not that lucky. He died on that fire and we escaped with a whisker. We could have died too but with the grace of God here we are,” Ms Makhetha said.