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View Article  Roof Day ...Day 4

Day Four and roof day! My favorite day, the day it all starts to come together!

I spent some time making deliveries to the houses yesterday, and happened across the legendary ‘Scots House.’  These 10 guys had all come down together as a group from a tiny Church, on the basis that "their mate Steve was going, and it sounded like it was going to be fun to let him go alone."  These guys ate girders for breakfast, worked flat out every day, and partied most evenings, and the sight of one of these guys giving wheelbarrow rides to four of the local children at a time (while another dozen waited excitedly) just brought home to me the kind of experience they were having.  You have to do something like this once in your life.  The trusses were delivered and we started putting them up on the roofs.  These all have to be secured in place before the end of the day, strengthened, overlaid with a plastic membrane, battened down and weighted down with tiles.  It’s a heavy day with a fair amount of lifting for those more able bodied.  A truck arrives and seven community builders glaze the whole house in about 20 minutes!!

View Article  Day Three, Archbishop Tutu and "The Best Day of my Life"

Day Three and things are really starting to take shape on the house, but I’m distracted by other things today.  I make numerous calls to Archbishop Tutu's office, and at 11.15am get through and am told the Archbishop can come and will be on his way in around 45 mins!  I make some calls and we get over 300 homeowners, builders, volunteers into buses and to Mfeleni community hall in record time.  We meet the Archbishop and what an honour not only to meet him but be recognised from our previous meeting. I introduce him to Nozuko first (one of the homeowners) and a line of others keen to meet him.  He goes and greets everyone outside including the camera crew, and as he enters the hall the place goes absolutely wild.  What a welcome for this inspirational and godly man, a true statesman of African politics, and he receives the rapturous welcome that he deserves.


He welcomes us and speaks to us for about the effect we can have in the community and what it means to have a decent house.  He describes this as the day that God smiles down on Mfeleni.  I saw people weeping in the hall.  It was a truly awesome experience for everyone, and that energy was turned back into building houses.  One person turned to me and said it was the best day of their life.


We finish early today to head to the wine region for some wine tasting, and then on to Moyo’s for an evening of African food and dancing.  Yes there is time for fun too!



View Article  Day Two

Day two we started on the third wall …well the photos tell their own story!  I went missing a few times as I was trying to arrange the visit from Archbishop Tutu.  He has the most hectic schedule you can imagine, and I am in awe at the energy he has for a man of 76, but there is doubt whether he can make it to the site.  We build on the third wall and start on the front wall.


View Article  Day One - A concrete slab

Day One and we arrive on site at 7.45am for the work to begin. Our homeowner is Nokawe, and with her husband and daughters Anita and Mihele, have moved into the shack of their neighbour (you can see behind) for a few weeks.  We thought their own shack had been demolished, and then learnt that in fact these were taken down and resold to families to improve their shacks!  There is a solid concrete base of either 42, 45 or 50 square metres, ready to start building a house on, and a huge pile of blocks.


We meet our team!, Eric the crewleader, Pumsile our builder, Meg, Keith, Lisa, Alice, David, Louise, Gary, Helen, Ann and Debbie…. None of us are too sure what to expect and we start mixing up cement (dugha) and building the external walls!  It is hard but satisfying work, and we were only working for an hour before we were stopped for tea and doughnuts!!!  We make good progress and with a lot of help from other friends and neighbours built 8 courses on two sides of the house.


View Article  The Welcome! Start Day Minus One

We arrived on site to a welcome in Mfeleni ... and what a welcome!

As we entered the community hall the place erupted with cheering, and what a greeting.  Each team met our homeowner today, the person we would be building a house with....Nocawe told us her story.  Habitat say "As the walls go up, the walls come crashing down." I think I know what they mean.  We ate, chatted excitedly, and then went back to sleep. Tommorrow we build!

View Article  Arrived in Cape Town!

It's great to be back!  I landed around 7am local time (we're an hour ahead of the UK). and booked into my hotel.  It's called the Breakwater Lodge, not a luxury one, but 'good value' and close to the waterfront.  It was originally a prison, google it

I sorted out my internet connections and computer, and went to look at the District 6 Museum.  (This was the area the aparthied government declared was 'for whites only' and started bulldozing people's houses).  It has laid as bare ground, strewn with the rubble of people's houses, to this day.  There are plans now coming together to compensate those who lost thier land and homes, landscape part of the area as a memorial park and redevelop the remainder. It would have been easy to have remained bitter and refused to redevelop the area, and yet the hope of South Africans, and the desire to deal with the past and move on undeterred, shines through again!

I finally get time to update my blog.....!  I'll add the photo's soon...

View Article  Meeting Desmond Tutu

I had an email Thursday from Desmond Tutu's aide, inviting us down to meet the great man, the next day and in Hull.  The Archbishop was in great form, and we spent most of the time laughing!  He has been a real inspiration to me for so long, it was such an honour to meet him.

I also asked him to sign a balloon from the German Jubilee 2000, to go to the G8 leaders telling them to cancel the debts of the poorest countries.  He stopped and went serious for a moment. "You know I have made a statement to the G8 already? That they must cancel debts."  The great leader and me, connected for a moment in our desire to see our Governments be great, and fulfill their promises to Africa.

We parted with "see you next week in Cape Town!" did I really say that? I got home after midnight, and what an amazing day!

View Article  Our Patron
Amazing!!! I received an email late yesterday afternoon, inviting us to meet Archbishop Desmond Tutu to film the welcome video from him for the Desmond Tutu Community Build! Within an hour, Helen at the Habitat office had arranged a video crew, and we're off to Hull later this morning! I am really looking forward to meeting this most inspirational man! Here's a bit more about him.    more »
View Article  Mfuleni, Cape Town

The place where we are doing the Desmond Tutu Community Build is called Mfuleni,  from the Xhosa word meaning “by ...   more »

View Article  Desmond Tutu Community Build

The time for the build is getting closer!  In a little under 3 weeks I will be flying to Cape Town for the start of the build.  Life is hectic with all the normal rush of family and work, and trying to fit in emails with arrangements to make sure everything goes smoothly while we are out there! Phew!  I was in Bristol yesterday looking at a multi-million pound building to purchase for exclusive residential apartments, and ended up taking a call from South Africa to discuss building houses for some of the poorest people ...a world apart and yet connected. We all need a decent home. 

I'm hoping to find time to keep this blog up to date through to the build and while I am out there with some photos!