Hope and Healing

cbm and Habitat Canada team up to build accessible housing for people living with a disability.

April 02, 2012From the Field

Brian Hatchell, cbm Canada
Guest Blogger

Flew from Lilongwe, Malawi on Friday to Durban, South Africa today via Johannesburg. I am now switching gears in the heart of southern Africa. I am going from visiting cbm funded work in Swaziland and Malawi to participating on a joint cbm Canada/Habitat Canada build in Kwa Zulu Natal.

cbm and Habitat have just launched a new partnership to build accessible housing for people living with a disability and their families in South Africa. This is the first joint built of its kind, and hopefully, the first of many not only in South Africa, but around the globe.

It’s a win-win-win for those living with a disability in need of accessible housing, Habitat and cbm. The partnership provides people living with a disability and their families a safe, affordable, sustainable place in which to live. It allows Habitat to include a huge demographic of people in developing countries who, until now, they weren’t serving and it will allow cbm to provide our beneficiaries with accessible, affordable housing throughout the world.

The build team is comprised of cbm donors from across Canada and Habitat donors from Edmonton, Alberta all of whom arrived in Durban today. Over the next two weeks we will work together to build a home from the ground up for a family in the Kwa Zulu Natal region of South Africa.

We begin building on Monday, and will be working side-by-side with members of the recipient family in keeping with the Habitat philosophy requiring the recipient family to invest their own sweat-equity into the house.

It looks like we have a great group of people, some with previous Habitat experience and others with previous Africa experience, and still others with neither.

While I am familiar with Habitat, I have never been involved in a build. I am both excited and a little nervous. I’m not what you’d call ‘a-handyman’ so this will test my limited trade-skills.  I’m also a little leery about how mixing cement, lugging bricks and installing a tin-roof under the 28 degree pounding heat. Our Habitat group leader has been stressing the importance of staying hydrated. While our local logisticians keeps warning us to stay out of the woods to avoid the Black Mamba snakes, scorpions and disease carrying ticks.

It should be memorable experience. I just hope it will be for all the right reasons.