South Africa has one of the most vibrant economies on the African continent, but the after-effects of apartheid rule are still evident — especially in the townships of cities like Cape Town. A quarter of South Africa’s population lives on less than $1.25 a day.
The Fuller Center for Housing has a partner on the ground in Western Cape, led by Bishop Louis Green, a former MP in the South African parliament who was elected to the office at the same time Nelson Mandela was elected president in 1994. For the past few years, Bishop Green has been leading The Fuller Center’s work of repairing and making homes safer in those townships.
The mission of building new homes and repairing unsafe structures will now be able to grow in South Africa as The Fuller Center’s partners in Cape Town are welcoming Fuller Center Global Builders volunteer teams. The first trip is scheduled for May 12-20 and will be led by Mike Oliphant — and slots remain open for those wishing to join. Another trip led by Boots and Ramsay Walker is scheduled for November and is already full, but many more trips are expected to be added to the schedule soon.
“I am so excited that we will soon be sending teams to South Africa,” said Maegan Pierce, who coordinates The Fuller Center’s Global Builders program. “Trip participants will have the amazing opportunity to be immersed in South African culture, which is rich with diversity and deep history. It will be a truly life-changing experience, not only because of the cultural opportunities, but also because families in need will be receiving the safe and affordable housing that they need through the hard work of our local Fuller Center partners in South Africa and our dedicated trip participants. I can’t wait for our trips to South Africa to begin!”
Director of International Field Operations Ryan Iafigliola did not have to wait for the trips to begin. He visited the leaders in Cape Town in December for a consultation about their work and to help make plans for the Global Builders teams.
“Although there is wealth in South Africa, there also is terrible poverty that really stems from its long history with apartheid,” he said. “In the townships and some of the rural areas, there is terrible poverty as bad as we find in most places we work around the world.”
Tin shacks are common throughout the townships, and even some of the homes that appear slightly better often have dangerous wiring and other unsafe features. He was struck by the juxtaposition of such poverty with the beauty and luxury of other parts of Cape Town, particularly along the coast.
“Cape Town, South Africa, is definitely one of the most beautiful areas you’ll ever visit,” he said. “It’s a tourist hot spot for a reason, but we’ll be going beyond where most tourists venture to make a difference in people’s lives.”
Ryan Iafigliola talks about his trip to South Africa in the first segment of this video, which includes more photos: