A House, A Home, A Future.

A House, A Home, A Future.

The SACBC AIDS Office “Houses for Orphans” program has, to date, built nearly 200 houses for destitute AIDS orphans, either in orphan headed households, or living with elderly grandparents. A further 80 houses are currently under construction, or planned for the near future. The largest donor is the Dutch organization “Homeplan” – an NGO consisting of professionals in the building industry, who sponsor houses for the poorest of the poor.

With Homeplan funding, SACBC AIDS Office has already built 90 houses in the Vicariate of Ingwavuma (50 in Hlabisa, 30 in Ndumo and 10 in Kosi Bay). 20 houses have been earmarked for Swaziland, of which almost half are already complete. In the latest expansion of this project, Homeplan is sponsoring the building of houses for orphans in the Inkomazi District of Mpumalanga (Diocese of Witbank).

Situated between the borders of Mozambique and Swaziland, Inkomazi experienced a large influx of Mozambican refugees during the 1980’s. Many died of AIDS, leaving their orphaned children behind in a particularly precarious situation – not having South African parents, these children cannot get South African birth certificates. Consequently they cannot access South African government social services. Returning to Mozambique is not an option – they were not born there,  have never lived there and do not know anyone there. They depend completely on the assistance they receive from the Church.

Every year Homeplan organizes a “Bouwreis” – their donors visit a country where they build houses, stay for a week with local families, and assist on the building site. Last year they went to Hlabisa. This year they came to Inkomazi. A group of nine landed at Kruger Mpumalanga Airport in Nelspruit on Sunday 3 March. They were welcomed with a dinner on the farm of the Granvilles (a local Catholic family). After that they spent the evening in the pastoral centre of the Kamhlushwa Catholic Church. The following day they were divided into five groups. Each group built orphan houses during the day, and spent the evenings with local host families. On Thursday evening all returned to the pastoral centre. Fr Jean Pierre le Scour (the parish priest) celebrated Mass, followed by a braai, attended by the Dutch visitors, their host families, the orphan beneficiaries and the local builders.  They returned to the Netherlands on Sunday 10 March, after a well-deserved rest in the Kruger Park.

Everyone was deeply moved by the experience. Working in extreme heat, they managed to finish four houses. Two members of the group painted a house, after which the keys were given to the beneficiaries (three orphans). When the two passed by the houses the following afternoon, the orphans had already planted pretty beds of flowers right around the house. During the evaluation, all members mentioned how much they enjoyed staying with their local hosts.  All of them also expressed admiration for the work done by the local Church to support the orphans (the Church currently feeds 2 000 orphans in the area). The local hosts also enjoyed the experience – when asked whether the Dutch should come back next year, one host said:”No. They must already come back in August or September this year”.

– by Johan Viljoen