Devland community shuns the ‘hand-out’ and welcomes a ‘hand-up ’
On 24 September 2013, Deborah Terhune founder of NGO Growing Up Africa, construction industry teams and the community began clearing a 7,000-m2 site for construction of a 1,860-m2 community education campus in Devland, Soweto.
Community members gathered to clear the site. Over 200 people of all ages came together with shovels, garbage bags, surgical masks and a spirit of solidarity with construction industry members. “They might not have had the skills to build but they wanted to engage. They are looking for enterprise development opportunities, skills transfer and training and, to get on board from the outset, they helped clear a 7,000-m2 site – no mean feat. They want to be the first in line when opportunities arise,” explained Deborah Terhune.
“More impressive is that 80% of the project is designed, developed and built by students, professionals, leaders in the construction industry and suppliers to the industry – all in-kind. Our business model: 20% is the funding required to develop a GUA project, to operate during the year-long build, to pay community day labourers who shadow the professionals (where safety and health allow), to upgrade site services, to fund equipment needed during construction, etc. Were this project not in-kind sponsored, R30m would have to be raised, instead it is R6m or less.
“The community does not want to wait to improve their lives, says Terhune. “So much for entitlement. Their definition of entitlement is: ‘We are entitled to a better life because we are beautiful human beings and we are not prepared to sit and wait for the changes the government has promised. We are joining with Growing Up Africa, a non-profit organisation, their partners in the building industry and other industry leaders. We will support and leverage where we can to build this project. We want to improve our community for our people and for our families, our children and everyone who lives in Devland, Soweto. We deserve this, but we also know we are responsible for the change that needs to happen.’ This is a remarkable commitment,” concludes Terhune.
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