Every time they went I was unable to go cos I was either preparing for a treatment, busy with a treatment, had just found out I was pregnant, had just had a baby. There was always something that happened that stopped me from atttending.
So when the opportunity presented itself for the next build, I jumped at the chance. I arranged with Cliff to babysit Kade and my neice Kayla and my sister and I headed off to our church bright and early on Saturday morning.
We headed off to Thembisa with 68 other volunteers and arrived at the Mellon Housing Initiative site office full of energy and excitement. My sister even attended with her moon boot on – and told everyone it would take more than a taxi to stop her from attending the blitz.
We were put into our teams and off we headed to do our work for the day. Each team is headed up by a professional builder who teaches the volunteers the correct techniques depending on your area. What I love about this initiative is that they believe in skills development – the community gets involved and are taught valuable skills that they get certified for – creating job opportunities for them as well. I was on one of the painting teams and my sister was on the other painting team.
We painted these homes and got to know our “owners”. The owner of our house, was telling us that he lives in his shack with his wife and his eight children and his dog Danger. That he was SO excited and proud to finally own his own home after 25 years of living in a shack. That knowing he could give his children a solid roof over their heads, finally made him feel like a man. We painted alongside this man and his family and I was humbled.
At the end of a long HOT day we handed over one of the houses that was completely ready to a lady called Beauty and her family. She has raised her 3 kids in her shack and when we asked her son what this meant to him, he said that he is epileptic and when he next has a fit at least it will be in comfort.
I have gained some serious perspective from this experience.
We complain about our electricity being cut for a few hours and moan when our service delivery is late or cancelled due to a strike. But these people they live without all of that EVERY DAY. Their children play in the sand and in filth because they do not have the luxury of running water all day long. We tried to clean our paint brushes but couldn’t cos the municipality cuts their water supply from 09h00 till 17h00 daily.
I left the build filled with compassion for my fellow South Africans who are not as blessed as I am. I left feeling SO incredibly lucky and blessed.
What I found was that what you find in our suburbs is what you find in a township. People who are trying to provide for their family. People who are spending time with each other and enjoying a summer’s day. People who are essentially the same as you and me.
What an amazing and humbling day. I CANNOT WAIT for the next build, I hope next time I’m put on one of the construction teams so I can learn to mix dugga and how to lay bricks.
I cannot wait to see another family get their dream home. The site director said it best, it’s about South African’s providing for South Africans. And if each one of us could just do one small thing (cos it really took nothing for myself and the other 69 volunteers to donate R500 and a day of our time) we can truly make a massive difference to the lives of others.
One small act from every person can truly change the world. I want to be that kind of person always.