Corporate Social Investment

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Houses become homes

Homes were handed to seven beneficiaries in Orange Farm after a five-day build. IDC staff volunteers joined Habitat For Humanity South Africa and the new homeowners to meet the deadline.

October 8, 2012

IDC CEO Geoffrey Qhena hands over house keys to Anna MofokengIDC CEO Geoffrey Qhena hands over house keys to Anna Mofokeng

It was truly a joyful day on Friday, 5 October for the seven families that benefited from Habitat For Humanity South Africa's housing build in Orange Farm.

One of the beneficiaries, Joice Dlamini, whose new house was but a nondescript slab when construction began just five days earlier, could not contain her joy as she watched volunteers from the Industrial Development Corporation putting the finishing touches to her new home.

Dlamini, a bubbly woman who says she arrived in Orange Farm "in the 1980s", chipped in to help mix mortar, and carry bricks and window frames as part of the deal with Habitat For Humanity that beneficiaries of the build should help with construction of their houses. Each house has two bedrooms, a dining room, a kitchen and toilet.

"We worked very well all week and I made sure I put in as much effort as I could into building the house. This is my house and I want it to be perfect," she said.

Her new house comes at the perfect time, with the festive season just around the corner. "I am so happy that we will celebrate Christmas in a new house, me, my husband and my two grandchildren," she said.

One of the seven houses built by the IDCOne of the seven houses built by the IDCDlamini's family is one of seven deserving families living in sub-standard dwellings in Extension 6A that were chose by Habitat For Humanity and the IDC to benefit from the five-day build. They are joined by 43 other families in the township that are also benefiting from the programme this year.

Located in the far south of Johannesburg, Orange Farm can well be described as poor, with most residents living in shacks. Some headway has been made by some government sectors to build RDP houses for qualifying families. Most of the streets, however, are dusty, with no street lighting. But all the houses have electricity and running water.

One very happy gogo was 64-year-old Anna Mofokeng, who hosted the IDC volunteers – including the corporation's chief executive, Geoffrey Qhena. Mofokeng's new house at stand number 9956 was chosen as the location for the official handover of the seven houses to their new owners.

Wearing a wide smile, Mofokeng, who said she had been living in a rickety shack with her two grandchildren since 1991, stood in front of her new home, joining in song with her neighbours. She was very happy that she would finally live in a decent house after many years surviving freezing cold and blistering heat in a shack. "May God bless all of you for what you have done," she said.

Qhena said there was nothing more dignifying than knowing one had a decent place to sleep. He congratulated Mofokeng and other beneficiaries for getting new homes.

The IDC has been involved with Habitat For Humanity South Africa since 2007. So far, 25 houses have been built by this partnership in three townships in Gauteng – Katlehong, Ivory Park and Orange Farm. The seven new houses will bring the number to 32.

And then it was time for the official handover. As is the norm with African celebrations, Mofokeng's street reverberated with song as the beneficiaries – who included 47-year-old Dlamini, 52-year-old Mary Ketja, 57-year-old pensioner Mpho Rosa Lejela, 60-year-old Sainni Hlangana, 27-year-old Pulane Mokoena and Mandla Petrus Socala – together with their neighbours held hands and hugged each other to express their joy.

Qhena and Mofokeng cut the blue and yellow ribbon, and then she proudly unlocked the door to enter her new home for the first time. The ululations could be heard four blocks away.

Lejela, who lives just two houses away from Mofokeng, said she couldn't believe that only a few touches were left as she moved into her new home. "God works in so many ways. This is one of His ways to show that He loves us," she said.

Lejela's son, Tshepo, said he had been kept busy the whole week making sure they met Friday's deadline. Busy digging a trench for sewer pipes, he said this was one of the biggest days in his and his mother's life.

"I have been waking up very early and sleeping late for the past four days. But all this work is worthwhile for me because I am helping to build a place where I will sleep easy knowing that I won't wake up with my room flooded with water during heavy rains," he said.


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