As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to wreak its toll across South Africa, it is easy to focus on statistics and forget that there are people left behind as a result of each death. In the worst cases, these survivors are children already facing rural poverty who are left orphaned and homeless to fend for themselves. The tragedy of South Africa is that, by 2018, it already had 2.7 million orphans. Of these, nearly 500 000 are found in KwaZulu Natal’s impoverished rural areas where the children have to rely on community goodwill for survival, says Fikile Kuhlase, Head of Old Mutual Foundation.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has undoubtedly added to this heart-breaking reality. However, it has also provided a stark reminder that will, hopefully, provide the drive for South Africans, both individuals and corporate, to tackle a problem that can have severe future consequences for our society as a whole. We have supported the practical, action-based interventions of Habitat For Humanity South Africa (HFHSA) for 18 years. Our latest contribution of R 500 000 through the Old Mutual Foundation will assist the HFHSA with their Orphaned and Vulnerable Children (OVC) Programme in Umbumbulu.”
Umbumbulu, about 40km from Durban on the South Coast, will soon see three houses built by the HFHSA becoming home to 12 orphaned boys within the local community. The project will provide the local orphans with family ‘live-in’ support in quality homes with access to water and electricity. Providing for the youngsters who have suffered enough tragedy in their young lives will involve the involvement of tribal authorities who will identify the project’s beneficiaries.
The construction project will also bring the scarce commodities of work and employment to Umbumbulu. The HFHSA/Old Mutual houses will align with the policy, requiring that skills, labour, and building materials be sourced within Umbumbulu, where possible. Through the construction process, development opportunities will emerge for those involved to acquire skills that could open prospects locally and in nearby towns.
Besides decent shelter, members of the new households will also receive the training and socio-economic support they need to sustain their improved quality of life. Offered will be an education in home maintenance, homeownership rights and responsibilities and appropriate personal financial management skills. “In 2013, the Old Mutual Foundation and Habitat for Humanity SA celebrated a partnership that had resulted in 100 homes being built – a milestone that no other HFHSA corporate partner has achieved.”
“Since then, the total has increased to 136 homes in KwaZulu Natal, Gauteng and Western Cape. We are proud that we are a part of a project that provides not only homes but sound support on which stability, strength and hope for the future can be built,” says Kuhlase, Head of Old Mutual Foundation.