Building Partnerships

This is truly a critical time for Ubuntu Design Group, and each step forward is greeted with a huge sense of excitement and anticipation. Developments continue to unfold every day as we continue to work on the Mtshali house project in Umbumbulu, and we are very excited to share these developments with you!

In the beginning of the project, we went through a bit of rough patch, as we were struggling to assemble enough finances to carry out the project. This resulted in our crowdrise campaign #BuyABrickBuildAHome which was an immense success, not only on the financial side but moreover in getting our message and mandate across to everyone that this is more than just a process of building a house; but this is a vision of building and empowering communities.

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One of the major highlights that resulted in our fundraising campaign was being called in by one of the most famous and listened-to radio stations in Durban, East Coast Radio; where we would be able to share our story, background and the vision that drives us from day to day. Without knowing how far or successful this would turn out, we were simply blown away by the responses and reactions of the listeners, and this blog is dedicated to sharing the significant developments that have taken place in this project and more importantly to Ubuntu Design Group as an upcoming organization; all through the opportunity we were granted by East Coast Radio to share our story.

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The first to reach out to us was an organization known as the Multiply Group, located in Umhlanga. We met them in their offices and discussed our work at length, where they were immensely impressed and inspired. The Multiply Group expressed their interest in partnering with us in future projects, as we aim to make Durban, and the whole of South Africa a better place for everyone who dwells in it.
This was followed by contact with Corobrik, one of the biggest hardware companies in South Africa, who offered to sponsor us with pavers, which provide safety for the family. Just like the Multiply Group, Corobrik also expressed interest of a prospective partnership in future projects.

Furthermore, we encountered Alulogic Showerlogic, who extended a tremendous gesture to us, of offering all of the windows for the house. Moreover, we got connected with Tile Adhesive, who donated the weber for the house.

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Our connections also stretched to companies abroad, where we were connected A Better World (ABW) Canada. In this organization we met the owner, Eric Rajah, who personally donated $3000 towards the Umbumbulu project and sincerely offered to assist us in the guidance and mentorship of our organization. We are really grateful and excited by this prospect, and especially grateful to Jacqueline McCarty, who connected us with ABW Canada.

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This project would have never been the impending success it is if it wasn’t for the Andrews University family, who have been a constant source of support and help throughout the whole process. Once again the Andrews family expressed their unwavering support, through the Pioneer Mission Church, led by Pastor Dwight Nelson; by firstly writing about us and our work, and also donated money towards our project. This was greatly received. Another entity in the Andrews family that reached out to help was the New Life Church, under the leadership of Pastor Michael Polite; and finally there was a donation made by the One Place Church under the leadership of Pastor James Murdock. We are entirely grateful to Andrews University and all its various structures that have continued to support our work.

One of the major developments that we are really excited about is the work we will be doing with Crawford Preparatory School, where they have invited us to do a presentation for their students on thee 18th of July, Mandela Day. This is as far as concrete discussions about the future went, but there is certainly a great sense of anticipation and excitement about a prospective partnership that could materialize in the long run, as expressed by both parties.

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Lastly, we have just given a presentation at the KwaZulu-Natal Institute for Architecture, in order to spread the message and vision of Ubuntu to all the architectural entities in the province of KZN and solicit their participation in this amazing work. In this presentation, we met a gentleman by the name of Suren Indhul who was stoked by our work and he immediately reached out to his networks to aid us in our project and the company that came forward to assist us is 2C Projects, who will cover 70% of the remaining expenses to finish the project. Furthermore, Suren also offered to help us with mentorship on the growth and running of Ubuntu Design Group

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Many heartfelt thanks go to all the mentioned people, organizations and institutions who have truly given the vision of Ubuntu hope and vigor. Through your support, we can look forward to the future with great excitement and anticipation!

Building Bridges

As construction continues to take place in Umbumbulu, the experience of undertaking this whole project grows richer and richer. It has been our goal from the onset to make this venture about much more than just building the structure, but moreover there is the indispensable component of community building that we seek to establish; and the project of Umbumbulu is the first leap towards cultivating a larger community that cares for each other.

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While this has been our original disposition from the beginning, it would be completely misleading to say that we foresaw the impact to manifest itself in such a manner. The magnitude in which the community-building component of this project has developed, has by far exceeded our most optimistic projections and expectations. Briefly, in this article, we will  outline the significance of the process of building bridges, that has been accomplished through this project.

 South Africa is one of the most diverse countries in the world, and while at first glance this appears to be something to proudly exclaim; the truth of the matter is that this diversity has not always played itself out in the most harmonious manner. On the contrary, there are still underlying traces and even more blatant expressions of discrimination and arguably the most notorious form of discrimination is racism.

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Furthermore, South Africa is still relatively young into democracy, in the post-apartheid regime and its pretty evident, when looking at interactions between the races involved in this unfortunate history that some wounds are still yet to heal, and some misconceptions are yet to be ironed out. As a result, interactions between the diverse races represented in South Africa have played out to be in sparse occasions of harmony and unity, and more on the other extreme of hostile indifferences and an ever widening and deepening gulf.

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Without going too deep into the socio-political dynamics of South Africa, let us return to the crux of this discussion, and that is to project the positive social influence that Ubuntu Design Group has exerted through the project in Umbumbulu. One of the primary objectives has been to do more than just build the house, but even more importantly to build the community of Umbumbulu.

In the pursuit of this objective, we have built bridges far bigger and broader than we had initially planned; our quest for community building went beyond the boundaries of Umbumbulu and its people; but it penetrated through to other communities, races, cultures; who have all converged to the building site to participate in this life changing experience of helping those who cannot help themselves.

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We have been blown away by this reaction but that is a gross understatement of how much it meant to the local people. For them to experience the different races come to the doorsteps of their community to stretch out a helping hand to pull them out was something that they would have never conceived. Previously hostile and negative suppositions about other people were expelled and a burst of hope, friendship and warm smiles was ushered into the community of Umbumbulu.

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This is the beginning of the greater change and community building that we seek to spread throughout all of the communities of South Africa; even spreading to all parts of the world, and in this movement seeks to be radically inclusive and change the lives of all those who participate in it.

Change in Transit

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We are in the midst of a truly life changing experience which has surpassed all expectation, and created opportunities which we could have never foreseen or orchestrated. Over the last few weeks we have been on site working tirelessly on the construction and we’d like to take this time to share some of the amazing events that have taken place during this time.

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The commencement of the construction saw us work with three local boys, as part of our mantra to have community members play an active role in the development of their community. One of the boys is the son of the benefitting families, and then we have two of his friends who have been very active, diligent and excited about this project just as much as we are. We furthermore have about 5 experienced local builders who are there to guide and lead the way in the construction of the house.

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One of the major highlights of this incredible projects has been the formation of relationships and the building of bridges which were to many inconceivable. With South Africa being in the post-apartheid period, it’s always been a dream to see the coming together and working together of all races, cultures and backgrounds to create something beautiful and erase the dark memories of the past. For several reasons, this transition has not always been as smooth as we would’ve hoped as a nation, with traces of racial discrimination still evident in certain parts.

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This is where we witnessed a truly remarkable spectacle, where people from different races and backgrounds converged, all in the common interest of making this building for the Mtshali family a success. For most of them, it was the first time time actually going down to see the unfortunate conditions that some people have been resigned to stay in, and in turn this gave them a sort of social obligation to be agents of relief to the families which have been frozen out of any sort of aid. For the community, this was also a marvel because in the entirety of their lives, they had never, or even thought they would ever see the day where they receive any sort of help from any other race except their own.

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We consider this to be the rise of an invaluable method, which can otherwise be referred to as the Jesus Business Canvas Model. Usually when an organization carries out certain projects, it’s the end result that matters the most, it is what either makes the project a success or a failure. While this may be true, it also cannot stand as the only measure of a successful project. This is why in this model, the focus is not merely on completing the project, but moreover it is on the process by which we get there. An extensive amount of work and special attention is given to this phase of the project, for 3 specific reasons. 1) We create employment opportunities for the local community members. 2) we help the young people in the community to develop skills in order to improve their own communities and very importantly 3) this is in keeping with the “Jesus Method” as outlined by Ellen White, about mingling with the people, providing their needs and desiring for their good.
We believe that this is more far-reaching and valuable above the accomplishment of finishing the project.

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We sincerely thank everyone who has been involved in this project thus far, from all the corners of the world. Please do continue to support us and share the work and change that is being instilled to those who are less fortunate. Change is in transit, don’t be left behind!

Buy a Brick Build a Home Project

This is the place where you will find out all you need to know about this project, and the family we are helping.

The Story

I met the Mtshali family when I went home to Durban, South Africa last summer, and visited a nearby semi-urban settlement called Umbumbulu.

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Mr Nkosinathi Mtshali with his wife, Mrs Fikisiwe Mtshali

The Mtshalis are a resilient and enduring family who lost their home to a storm. Their father, Nkosinathi, also survived a tragic road accident around this time. His one desire and constant prayer is for a roof over the heads of his loved ones.

The loss of their home has made it necessary for his family to be split into separate living spaces, and the current shelter which Nkosinathi shares with his wife, Fikisiwe, is cramped and unsafe. They allowed their son to leave and live with another family because they didn’t want to traumatize his childhood with the lasting memory of their miserable living situation every single day. Fikisiwe states, “I lift his father to an outside toilet, I feed him every meal he has, and I bathe him. Everything is difficult and we did not want to subject our child to that.”

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The Mtshali Residence

The couple is receiving a government disability grant, but it does not sufficiently cover their monthly expenses. This means their dream of owning a home that meets their specific needs and caters to their disabilities is currently far from their reach.

Fikisiwe shares, “Having a Good Samaritan build a basic shelter for us would mean a lot to us. We would be so happy because we are in need.”

The family desires to have a safe and happy home for both them and their son. They also hope to give back to their community and create a sustainable living situation by running a daycare from their house.

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Our Mission

Andrews University’s Masters Architecture class & Ubuntu Design Group plans to turn the Mtashalis family’s dream into a reality. We want to partner with the Mtshali family to build them a new home that won’t collapse, a home that reflects their creativity and culture, and that empowers the community around them.

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The Andrews University MArch group working on the half-house project

We believe in using architecture to bring about change. If apartheid architecture could segregate and oppress, community-based design can liberate and enable opportunity, growth and commerce. We see architecture as just a frame; people are the big picture.

We seek to empower and assist creative, resilient, and hardworking people, so they can exercise their creativity using sustainable means and effect lasting change in their own communities.

We believe in listening to build and putting people first in architecture. If you share these core values, will you partner with us to make a difference in your global community by buying a brick to build a home?

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What we’ve done

What we have managed to accomplish thus far is to meet with the community in exercising one of our core elements, in “listening to build”. This was a very important step because it ensures that our work remains relevant and inclusive of the dreams and the ideas of the local community.
Half of the money ($10 000) for this project has been raised, through a contribution made by Andrews University and this is a major boost to our plans.
This idea has also been spoken of in various high class forums, like the SXSW Program that took place in Texas, where this idea was one of the 6 finalists in the competition, out of more than 200 other projects. We were also very privileged to be granted the platform at the United Nations, to pitch our idea; and this was also very well received.

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Meeting the community members

“Don’t forget to do good and share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.” Hebrews 13:16

“We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.” Romans 12:5

Tiers

Our tiers are designed to accommodate donors under a student budget to those that can donate from a worker’s budget. They are broken down in terms of what the contributions will go towards.

$5 – Motar contribution

$25 – window sill/Bag of Sand

$50 – a brick

$500 – A bag of Cement

$1000 –  a wall

Cost Breakdown

Below, is an attached document that breaks down all the costs of the construction; showing where all the money will be allocated to.

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On the Move: An update of Events

Over the last few months there’s been an extensive amount of activity taking place concerning the ongoing projects and Ubuntu Design Group in general. In this post, I’d like to shed some light on some of the major events that have played out and thus had an effect on our progress as an organization.

Having completed our excursion to the building site in Durban, the team returned to Andrews University to assimilate all the information that had been gathered on the ground, to the actual design. All the processes of listening to build, and creating opportunities for the community were taken into consideration.

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On the other hand Wandile And Stephen went to go and represent Ubuntu Design Group at SXSW international design competition where Ubuntu was listed as one of the top six finalists. They were very well received and there was a lot of buzz around the project; however they participated in a less fitting category for the project, as that should’ve been in Social Design instead of the Speculative Category. This was a landmark experience, which afforded them the opportunity to meet and connect with our inspiration organization, MASS Design Group, whom we were able to invite to Andrews, to help and critic our work.

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Stephen then went back to Andrews as Wandile went on to speak on behalf of Ubuntu Design Group at the Resolution Project GALA, held at the Harvard Club Building in New York City.
The people at this event were really inspired by the work Ubuntu is doing; to the extent that there was a pressing urge even on their side, to go and give back to their own communities.

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After this event, Wandile went back to Andrews to join the team in finalizing the master plan of  the Umbumbulu and Mtshali housing component of the project.
This was one of the most exciting moments, because the team was highly passionate and everyone wanted everything gained from the ground not to be compromised; and as a result, there was a lot of debating, walking on tables, tearing of papers and starting over, in order to get it right.
In the end however, the best results have come out. The team has finally agreed on the final design and are now working on developing that design and developing the book which will be inclusive of the the process, designs and research.

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On a more downside not, Wandile also faced some financial issues, with some “misunderstood” expectations not fulfilled. Fortunately he was able to get accommodation at Burman dorm, with the understanding that he will have to pay later. The provost gave him a meal card, the Andrews International office also contributed to this and we are all very grateful for this support.

Many thanks and appreciation goes out to the One place Church for paying for Wandile’s ticket back to the ground to keep the project going. One Place has continually supported our ministry and we greatly appreciate that.

The work on the project is still ongoing, and various entities are working towards its success. There is a campaign that will be out soon, that will help raise funds which will go towards funding these projects.
Wandile is currently in Durban, staying at his grandparents house, as he continues to lead the charge for the success of this project.

Buy a Brick Build a House

You are here because you’ve taken keen interest to know more about this fundraising campaign we’ve just launched and the inspiring family that we are seeking to assist. Firstly, we would like to give out a huge thank you for the time and interest you have shown in this cause; through your help and support, there is much hope for a successful project, but moreover, there is hope for a family and the community at large.  This project is not the end of its kind, but it is the first step towards assisting many more families like the Ngcobo family. Our ultimate goal is that each and every community should have the basic necessity of sustainable housing and means creating for them to continue sustaining themselves.

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On this platform we will give the finer details of how these funds will be utilized and also have a look at the team working on this project, which represents various nationalities, races and backgrounds; adding to the sentimentalism invested in this work. It’s a work that all humanity our diversity should work together to see its completion.

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Breakdown of Build

The amount that we’ll be working on for this construction is $10 000 and it has been divided as follows for the construction of the house:

Bedroom 1           – $2 000 (Floor, Wall & Ceiling Finished)

Bedroom 2          – $2 000 (Floor, Wall & Ceiling Finished)

Kitchen                – $2 000 (Floor, Wall & Ceiling Finished)

Living Room     – $2 000 (Floor, Wall & Ceiling Finished)

Toilet                  – $2 000 (Finished & with all appliances)

Total: $10 000

The Team behind the Project

Looking at the individuals leading this task; it is an instant joy to see how it’s a group which comprises of members from all corners of the world. This project does not only stand to change the lives of the communities we are reaching out to, but even more so it has in many way opened the eyes and minds of many members in this team, to the greater goal and mandate that is beckoning for architecture to achieve; and this realization has been warmly and positively received by all members of the team.

 

Introducing the team, from left to right: Pearl Shivonna (Malaysia); Byng Goo Lee (South Korea); Rebecca Fuller (US); Kevin Leong (Singapore); Gala Ualita (American Samoa); George Simpson (US); Nadine N. Rios (Puerto Rico); Seth Haley (US), Wandile Mthiyane (South Africa). Prof. Andrew von Maur (Germany); Edith Garcia (US); John Rivers (US); Angie Figueroa (US); Lizeth Molina (Mexico); Stephen Allcock (UK)
Introducing the team, from left to right: Pearl Shivonna (Malaysia); Byng Goo Lee (South Korea); Rebecca Fuller (US); Kevin Leong (Singapore); Gala Ualita (American Samoa); George Simpson (US); Nadine N. Rios (Puerto Rico); Seth Haley (US), Wandile Mthiyane (South Africa). Prof. Andrew von Maur (Germany); Edith Garcia (US); Robert Rivers (US); Angie Figueroa (US); Lizeth Molina (Mexico); Stephen Allcock (UK)

This is a team of young architecture students who have decided to take up the duty of instigating change in the world, by starting with this community. There is nothing much in terms of possessions or funds to make this feesible, but one thing they have; and that will carry them through to the fulfilment of their  vision, is their passion and determination to get this done. One of the leading inspirations of this student movement is that it is a service to God and God’s people, because our duty is to not only take care of ourselves, but to take care of those who do not have the means to take care of themselves.

It is also very important to understand that even though the architecture students are leading with the design of the project, it is the community that will be hands on with with the actual construction; thus creating employment for the members of the community, as well as a sense of involvement in the making of the place they will call home. This shows that this is not a vision that is only shared by one party, but everybody as a community works together for the fulfillment of this vision.

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Furthermore to these developments, we would like to leave something that will continue to sustain the family and the whole community at large even beyond our period of being there. As a result, the Ngcobo family will come up with a business plan on how they will run a fruit market that will be designed to be attached to their house. This is a very exciting prospect because not only does it open up an opportunity for the family, but it also offers an extensive service to the whole community.

Upon the completion of these phases, we would have successfully carried out our three key mandates, that it; 1) Listening to build, 2) Creating opportunities for growth, and 3) Empowering and building communities.

Making a Difference! Part 3

As we approached the culmination of our program down in Durban, there were some extensive reflections that needed to be made in order to evaluate various aspects of the project, as we seek to develop it even further in the future. However the evaluation would be too limited if we carried it out only by ourselves internally, therefore we needed another external point of view, to critically analyze the shaping up of the project, and give some guidance on how to keep the ball rolling. To help us accomplish this task, we were very much privileged to have the Indunas (chiefs) of the Umbumbulu town in a last formal meeting, to give us some feedback on the progress of the project.

Some of our team members put in some traditional flavor to their attire as we met the Indunas of Umbumbulu
Some of our team members put in some traditional flavor to their attire as we met the Indunas of Umbumbulu

Before the meeting could start, we experienced something of a culture shock as we had to wait for a period of about two after the scheduled time of the meeting. This is something that’s very common in traditional gatherings when you have to meet important people, and it is always appreciated when you patiently wait until the people are ready to meet you. When the Indunas finally availed themselves to us, they were very warm in their welcome and from there the meeting proceeded really well.

The leadership of Umbumbulu addressing the team
The leadership of Umbumbulu addressing the team

One of the key issues that was mentioned in this meeting was the prior experience of having projects such as this being proposed to the community, but unfortunately almost all the time they end up as nothing but unfulfilled promises. This issues a major challenge to us, to be accountable and credible for the work we have initiated. It was very pleasing to learn that we have already earned the trust and confidence of most community members. This is not something we take lightly, but by all means we wish to fulfill the trust and confidence that has been afforded to us. We will continue to work hard, to engage the community and its leadership, as we make the dream of affordable sustainable housing to everyone a reality.

The Indunas were very frank in their assessments, which is what we were looking for
The Indunas were very frank in their assessments, which is exactly what we were looking for

One of the goals of Ubuntu Design Group is to help in the rise of self sustaining communities through the use of opportunities like agriculture, however it was pointed to us that the real problem is not the productivity from the community, but in actual fact the real problem was in the fact that there was no outlet, or market from which the community could profit from the productivity. This means that before we can even establish good agricultural systems, we should also plan ahead for the market which will be reached out to.

Discussions with the Indunas were very productive and insightful
Discussions with the Indunas were very productive and insightful

Finally, the leadership expressed how they were really happy about the work we were doing. One of the major things they commended was the consultations we were making with them in every decision we had to make, which is really important because nothing can be done in the community without their consent. The point their were driving at was the importance of being on the same page with each other all the time, to work in unison towards the holistic development of the whole community.

Once again we’d like to thank the leadership of Umbumbulu for the continued support; for even allowing us to carry out this project in their town. They have since been very supportive, involved and just as eager as we are to see the success of this project being carried out. We look forward to the continued steadiness of this solid partnership.

Making a Difference! Part 2

The ball hasn’t stopped rolling just yet! Everyday there is something new to look forward to, a new life to make a difference to and a new experience to savor. This time we hosted a group of 60 High School students, from schools in Umbumbulu and KwaMashu, at the University of KwaZulu Natal. As the Ubuntu Design Group, it is paramount that we don’t uphold our values and principles in solitude, but to incorporate members of different age groups, backgrounds and levels to share in our vision and thus create a legacy that is bigger and deeper than the organization. In this edition, we look at two further important events that took place, on top of those outlined in the previous edition. The first of which is the Interactive Storytelling program, and secondly the presentation that was rendered at the municipality

Interactive Storytelling

This program was held in collaboration with “Siyabanakekela” (We care for them) led by Dudu Ngubane from the eThekwini Municipality, and here we sought to establish two objectives. The first of these was to get the students to share about the challenges that they are experiencing in their various communities. However, we also wanted to take it a step further and not just end with highlighting a long list of problems. The same people who came up with the problems (the students) would also have to come up with possible solutions that they envisioned, to solve the problem. These two tasks would be completed in 4 groups of 15 members, with each group also having some members from the MArch group guiding them through the process.

Groups working together to find solutions for the problems in their communities
Groups working together to find solutions for the problems in their communities

The results that came from this activity were simply mind blowing. The young students fervently applied their minds and came up with some excellent and intelligent methods that could curb the daily challenges they were encountering in their communities. This is something we had no doubt would happen, which is why we wanted to have an event such as this, and we strongly believe that young people in high schools and universities should be given frequent platforms where they are able to assert themselves and have a voice in the make up and design of the communities, as most of the problems that happen in these places are directly experienced by this age group more than any other. We hope to have many more occasions like this, where young people are given the platform to express their intelligence in pertinent matters like social design.

Meeting with the Municipality

Another important meeting that took place was with the municipality, where we once again had the opportunity to share more about what we are all about and the difference we seek to instill in the impoverished societies, with the current project being the first step to the greater goal. The impression that we left at the municipality was quite positive and they couldn’t thank us enough for the splendid job we were doing of empowering the communities that have very little to empower themselves. They expressed the desire to engage in a longstanding partnership with Andrews University to not only have this as a once off initiative, but to continue to build on it and spread its impact far and wide. The municipality further went to pledge their support to our project and gave us the ease of knowing their doors will always be open if we ever need anything from them.

A further reinforced partnership with the municipality
A further reinforced partnership with the municipality

We appreciate the support and help that the municipality has contributed in the continued success of this project, and we hope to build more friendships and partnerships like these, as we week to bring in this difference very swiftly across all communities.

 

Making a Difference! Part I

It’s all happening thick and fast in Durban and we are very pleased to share this progress with you! It’s been a long time coming, a lot of planning, preparing and talking has been made, but now its finally happening and we are making a difference! There are three major events that we’d like to present in this edition, on the progress that has been taking place in the project so far. The first of this is making a difference to the lives of the MArch (Master of Architecture) students participating in the project, the second is making a difference in the community of Umbumbulu, and finally making a difference in the approach to Architecture itself.

Making a Difference to the difference-makers

Starting off on a sad note, it’s been very unfortunate that with the recent hostile weather in Durban, some families have lot their shelter and now have to work tirelessly to recover something inhabitable enough for them to cover their heads. Thankfully we are always looking out and ready to give our best to people who are victims of such calamities, and thus we identified one family, the Ngcobo family in Umbumbulu, who lost their house during a storm. For this family, we bought food and groceries and the reaction we got from them was overwhelming. They were beyond ecstatic, they sang songs and prayed with us. Yet this was only half of what was really touching about this instance.

The  real difference that was achieved during this time is in the very lives of those who are seeking to make a difference. It’s a known fact that probably what every architecture student longs for is to be known as the man/woman behind the tall masterclass building or sophisticated design of a residence. Yet with the short experience in this project, this view has been rapidly overturned and a community-oriented dimension has been even more rapidly assimilated. A few of the students have actually spoken out about the experience of this dimension, how it is life changing and how they want to pursuit it further  and do even more for the communities that cannot help themselves, rather than concentrate all their skills and creativity on luxurious buildings that are only accessible to a minority in the population

The Andrews University MArch group working on the half-house project
The Andrews University MArch group working on the half-house project

Making a Difference in the Community

The second major event of this week included the whole community of Umbumbulu coming together for a community meeting, and one of the highlights of this gathering was being graced with the presence of the chiefs and community leaders of Umbumbulu. One of the most touching elements of this gathering was also the fact that we had old women who had walked distances of about 10 to 15 km in rainy weather just to come and attend this meeting. This was a grand and rare opportunity for the people of the community to actually have a voice in how they would like the development of their community to be orchestrated.

Presenting at the Umbumbulu community meeting
Presenting at the Umbumbulu community meeting

Making a difference in Architecture

Lastly, we had one very special incident, and the striking thing about this one is that it was totally unplanned and unexpected. We visited the Mtshali family (one of the beneficiary families) and the idea was to share some lunch with them and other neighbors around. While this was happening, the MArch group just randomly decided to whip out the drawing boards, and before we knew it, we had ourselves a meeting, and very active in this meeting was the community members, who to a larger degree, had more to teach us than we had to teach them. They explained to us all the dynamics of their neighborhood, how they would like it to be designed and what important features would help lessen issues like crime and violence. This very unexpected and unplanned meeting turned out to be the very essence of what we had been hoping for all along, to engage the community, to offer our services and resources, but only in the way that they see best for them as a community, and not us as the helpers.

Meeting the community members
Meeting the community members

 

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