Volunteer builders make it a Mandela Week


    volunteer buildersOver 750 volunteers gathered on Monday 14 July to build at least 67 houses in one week for Habitat for Humanity’s International Nelson Mandela Build Week (images: Habitat for Humanity)

    Over 750 volunteers gathered in Pelican Park in Cape Town on Monday morning for the launch of Habitat for Humanity’s International Nelson Mandela Build Week. The goal: to build at least 67 houses in one week.

    The drive will include a 24-hour “blitz build” on Thursday, when teams of volunteers will work around the clock to meet – or exceed – the 67-house target ahead of Nelson Mandela International Day on Friday.

    The Pelican Park housing development, a collaboration between the City of Cape Town, Habitat for Humanity and Power Construction, will see a total of 3 200 new homes being built on 80 hectares of land.

    Volunteers from businesses around the Western Cape will be on site this week working alongside Pelican Park residents, some of whom will be the beneficiaries of the new houses.

    “I am grateful that I am where I am. I am standing here because I am also a beneficiary,” John Bailey, vice-president of the Pelican Park Homeowners’ Association, said at Monday’s launch.

    “I was on the waiting list for just over 27 years. And because of what people like you have put in, I have benefited in a big sense,” Bailey said. “I never would have owned a home. I simply cannot afford it. But because of these organisations, I have benefited. And I thank each and every one of you.”

    Percy Knight of Power Construction told the crowd of volunteers that they were in for “a great experience. I know that after this week your life is not going to be the same. You are going to look at housing differently, and think about builders differently (because you’ll be carrying dugga – mud plaster used to build houses – and bricks all day!) You’ll know that for the people whose homes you’ve built, you’ve made a real difference in their life.”

    Dow Chemical’s president for sub-Saharan Africa, Ross McLean, said: “We’re not just building houses here. The beneficiaries will create homes, and we believe that a home is much more than just a roof over your head.”

    Nelson Mandela Foundation CEO Sello Hatang said the response to the project “has been amazing, from corporates and citizens that want to do something, people who want to build our community brick by brick. We’re also hoping that we can go past the target of 67 houses, and have 100 built by Friday.”

    Mandela Day, the final day of the build week, will be commemorated with the official handover of the 67 or more houses to their new owners.