Columnists Features

Habitat for Humanity empowers Mapepe residents

HABITAT for Humanity Netherlands representative Simon Purkiss presenting keys to a new home and a Bible to Marlon Chisekete of Mapepe township. PICTURE: KELVIN MBEWE

FIVE kilometres south of Chilanga district council offices is Mapepe township. A place that was once a farm belonging to a white man only identified as Sonadi according to residents of the area.

Since the death of Mr Sonadi, farm workers turned the place into a settlement with questionable structures.
Life will never be the same again for Natrune Mweetwa 34 and Marlon Chisekete 36 both widows and residents of Mapepe.
The two are among the 15 families that have been given a house each valued at K 48,000 by Habitat for Humanity Zambia (HFHZ).
HFHZ is an organisation that is in the business of supplementing government efforts of alleviating poverty by providing decent accommodation to the poor.
The beneficiaries of the latest hand-over of a four-roomed house each could not hide the joy and appreciation to HFHZ.
“I’ m so grateful to habitat because I never thought such a gesture would be done for me. My life has been with several challenges ever since my husband died.
In the rain season, I had sleepless nights because I was afraid that the house was going to fall on me and my children,” said a visibly happy Marlon Chisekete.
Ms Chisekete appealed to the organisation to extend this gesture to other families’ as well.
“My mind was always preoccupied with where my children and I were going to stay once the house collapses. At work, my boss would always ask me what was wrong because my performance was going down every day,” said Ms Chisekete.
And Natrune Mweetwa another beneficiary of a house said God has manifested through HFHZ.
“I would like to thank habitant, the community, and Chilanga district council for this gesture. I want to thank you for the change you have brought into my life. I’m a mother of four and ever since my husband died, I have been facing challenges in raising the children,” she said as tears were almost dropping from her eyes.
Ms Mweetwa said the gesture will go a long way in uplifting her spirit.
“God has worked miracles through habitat for humanity, my time has come. My old house was in a terrible condition but today ,am very joyful. I’m also humbled because I was chosen from a lot of friends that are facing similar changes,” she said.
The two families have been upgraded from staying in houses made of mud to those with proper brick structures.
According to HFHZ, the organisation has built over 2,700 homes and served over 20,000 families through different programs and services in Zambia.
HFHZ programmes are currently operating in four of Zambia’s provinces Lusaka, Central province, Copperbelt and Western Province.
According to HFHZ, the donations are meant to mitigate the 1.5 million housing deficit in the country.
The handover ceremony was characterised with entertainment from the local dance group.
A number of young and old residents were in attendance to catch a glimpse of this rare moment.
HFHZ said the two houses were complete within 6 days by expert engineers from Netherlands.
And speaking during the handover ceremony on recently Habitat for Humanity Netherlands (HFHN) representative Door Plantenga said habitat is passionate about people’s lives.
“This is the twelfth house that we are handing over to 12 different families in mapepe community. We came with love in our hearts to improve people’s lives here in Zambia, on that side, there was nothing but look at what we have achieved together,” she said.
Ms Plantenga said the purpose of constructing houses for the poor is to help them focus on other issues other than accommodation.
“We hope that the houses will not be a source of jealousy but unity in the community. It should actually be a source of motivation to the community,” she said.
She thanked Chilanga district for facilitating the construction of the houses.
And Chilanga district council chairperson Maria Malila commended habitat for humanity for their gesture and urged non beneficiaries not to despair because their time will come.
“I want to thank you for the manner in which you received the visitors from the time they came up to today, continue with the same attitude which shows respect. Take care of the houses as a way of showing appreciation to the donors, then you will receive more,” she said.
And Habitat for Humanity Zambia fundraising officer Christian Kaunda said the criteria which are used to choose the beneficiaries is transparent.
“For one to qualify as a beneficiary, they must be orphans or old man or woman keeping orphans. We also target widows with orphans.
We work with community- based organisations, those that reside in the same community. We call them foot soldiers. They compile a list of beneficiaries after investigating and present it to us,” he said.
Mr Kaunda says more people are sent to investigate the families to counter check the information on the ground.


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