Habitat for Humanity - The hard work of the Habitat for Humanity staff, volunteers and donors is also bearing fruit

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"This is our 6th visit to Ascot Gardens. We always appreciate the tranquility and hospitality here."

Neville & Deidre Davis Herts, UK

Habitat for Humanity

"It’s hard to describe to the variety of emotions evoked when you visit a township for the first time. You start by crossing an ‘invisible line’, to find yourself in a fantastic world of contradictions. As road markings disappear, so people emerge from every home and street corner. Barefoot children in threadbare clothes dance and play in the street, while warm, smiling faces beam from dark, feeble shacks. The innate fear of the unknown swirling in your stomach is soon overcome by excitement as you realise that the people here are unique. What makes them smile and wave when surrounded by so much poverty and suffering? Talking to two homeowners, I began to understand.

Receiving a simple, five-roomed house may not seem like much to some, but for many it means far more than four walls and a roof. Maria Nonceba Ntyinkala moved to KTC, Nyanga, with her family in 1985. One year later their shack was burnt down and all their possessions destroyed: an all-too-common occurrence in townships, and one for which Maria is still awaiting the promised compensation. She described the hardships of living in a shack with her two sons and three daughters: waking up to find her children sleeping in inches of water; the sickness and stress that followed, along with the constant worry of how to keep possessions and loved ones safe.

Looking at her now, it is hard to picture the proud mother of five living under extreme discomfort impossible for most to imagine. Maria simply beams with life and pride as she shows us her new Habitat home. Dressed in bright, traditional Xhosa clothes which she hand-made herself, she explains the true meaning of a house. “Somewhere secure, my own place for me and my children, where I can feel like a proper mother.” The sense of self-pride and dignity that comes along with a home, she said, is hard to put into words. Maria received her home last August when it was built by a volunteer group from the Newtonbreda Presbyterian Church in Ireland. “I would love to see them again and really thank them,” she said, following the statement with a heartfelt invitation for the group to come and share a pot of tea.

The same overwhelming gratefulness greeted us at the next homeowner we visited, Christina Nozibele Lisa, whose name aptly means ‘the nice lady’. Christina has managed to single-handedly raise four sons, despite living in a one-roomed shack in KTC since 1976 and working full time as a char. She received her Habitat home in July last year, built by a team from Global Village in America. Her message to them was simple: “I miss you, I love you and I will never forget you”. She says that receiving her home was such a surprise, and it was like a dream waking up that first morning in her new home; her family warm, dry and safe. She too remembers the constant worry of winter rains flooding her shack and destroying her possessions. Today, her beautiful ornaments and pictures are proudly displayed around her home, and their reassuring presence is clearly reflected in the proud smile on her face. Christina now has great hopes for her own garden and vegetable patch, and already has a small peach tree well on its way to bearing fruit.

The hard work of the Habitat for Humanity staff, volunteers and donors is also bearing fruit, and the sweet success of having given so many people back their dignity is just a taste of the great things to come. The community of KTC know this, and it is this hope for the future that keeps them going; that is shown in the vibrant colours, smells and smiles that assault your senses as you cross ‘the invisible line’. HFH has helped build far more then homes, and the simple message from Christina says it all. “Thank you Habitat for coming here. Thank you for helping us!” May God bless you all in your truly noble quest."

- Jenna Praschma

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