Mfuleni residents get newly built houses

Patrick Kulati, national director of Habitat for Humanity speaking to Nontuthuzelo Sitweni.

A seemingly far-fetched dream has been realised for many Mfuleni residents as Habitat for Humanity, an online advertising company and the community of Mfuleni celebrated the completion Build Week, on Friday November 3.

Through the initiative, the two organisations built 20 houses for the community of Bardale in less than two weeks. The 40 square metre houses were handed over to owners by Patrick Kulati, national director of Habitat for Humanity.

Mr Kulati said they hoped to build more houses and noted that Habitat brought big corporates to the townships in order to see how people lived because many staff of these companies had never been to a township.

He said he was happy to see most companies getting on board to help the poor and that they had decided to help build houses because the government could not do it alone.

However, he said, they were not just building the houses.

They were also educating home-owners on what was involved in owning a property and how to maintain their houses. “It is not about brick and mortar, but also about development. Remember these people have never had proper houses. It is then our duty to educate them on some aspects. After we have given them houses, we educate them and after sometime we come back to see how they are doing,” he said.

Mr Kulati applauded the volunteers and the companies involved in the building of the houses. “This is a catalyst for development, and this is a life-changing experience, not only for the homeowners, but for volunteers too.

“Some have never seen the abject poverty people live in,” he said.

Nontuthuzelo Sitweni, who was among the beneficiaries, could not contain her joy. Smiling uncontrollably, she was taken around her finished house.

She has been moving around different informal settlements for many years and spent the last few years sharing a one-room shack with her four children.

The unemployed single mother and her family survive only on a child support grant. “Life was never easy in the shack.

“I am practically over the moon with the new development. This house will make a huge different in my life and (that of) my children,” she said.

Ms Sitweni said she had been battling for many years and the new house came as a huge relief.

“When I was told that I am going to get a house I could not believe the news. It was like a dream to me. But I am happy the dream has now been fulfilled. This Christmas will be different. I will be in a house with a refrigerator and other electrical appliances that I could not have before,” she told Vukani.