Today is a long time coming. Planning for our build in the Cape Flats area of Cape Town began nearly one year ago. All twenty of our team mates are here now, safely having flown thousands of miles to join Habitat for Humanity South Africa on our combined mission to eradicate poverty housing from the planet.
We are building in the first integrated community in Cape Town called Pelican Park located only about a half hour from the city center. In order to increase the number of families they will be able to serve, Habitat South Africa has partnered with Power Development, a professional developer building the 3,200 homes. Yes, it’s big. So, what makes it “integrated”?
For starters, the largest and most expensive homes will be on the open market for anyone to buy. There are also smaller homes, more affordable for those households with a combined income greater than the threshold for government assistance but too little to qualify for a conventional mortgage. The Habitat homes in this community are the smallest, but affordable for those who are first time homeowners, who have a combined household income of less than 3,500 Rand (about US$350) which is too little to qualify for a loan.
The houses are co-mingled, so that people essentially are not segregated by income. The community upon its completion will also include a schools, parks, shopping center, library, clinic, retail space and petrol station. Pastor Steve and his wife Louise already run a thriving church community that runs a feeding program and daycare for the residents. It’s quite remarkable. But right now it pretty much looks like a big barren construction site.
We had a great first workday and the entire team will tell you that it was HOT on site today. The homes are a concrete block and mortar style, so lots of lining up to move blocks and mixing of “dugha” or mortar made from sand, concrete, lime and water. It’s hard work but a great workout, as many Global Village builds are. And because we are on a “real” construction site we get to wear hard hats and fancy reflector vests. Cool!
Although most of our mates are from the US, coast to coast, Canada and Australia are represented and we are all having a wonderful time getting to know each other and working side by side with our new South African Habitat Crew Leaders and Power Construction.
As we have learned to say on site, “Dugha, dugha, dugha! Hoi, hoi, hoi!”