Tuesday, March 25, 2008


The work continues with the framing and by the end of the day some walls are up. It’s beginning to look like a small development of model tract homes. For the 75 youth, their leaders from Wales and our contractor in the field, Steve Horrex, this is a long, hot trying day. The siding arrives and it’s the wrong size.

Drink water, everyone drink water, lots of water. For some of these youth it is the hardest working day of their life… and they are doing a fantastic job.

More than 7 million South Africans live in shacks with little to no basic human services like water or sanitation. The poverty rate has escalated to 55% and the unemployment rate amongst the African youth is 80%.

Ebenezers is located between two townships and about 400 yards behind us is a squatter community. A squatter community is when people start living on somebody’s private property. If the owner doesn’t respond immediately by forcing them off, others come; in the hundreds—and then the thousands. The owner looses control of his interest. This squatter’s community started up 15 years ago with over a thousand family members. Nobody really knows how many people live here, because in the squalor of poverty there is no way to tell. Humphrey takes 6 of us in and we do a photo/video/news shoot. In the middle of this community they have cut the field; it’s their soccer field. A game is being played and there are hundreds watching. School is off this week and they will play football all day. The houses are made of sheet metal and heavy rocks hold the roof on. There are no windows and in the heat of the day these shacks are ovens. In front of one, behind the barb wire are three generations of one family; a grandfather, grandmother, two daughters, 3 grandchildren and two dogs. We smile and they smile back. The grandmother says something. I cannot hear her. I move closer. She calls out again. I still cannot understand. She calls out again, this time I hear her say “Are you going to help us?”

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