Hands-on students build homes - and goodwill

17 November 2009 | Story by Newsroom

studentsFeather in your cap: UCT students who joined the hard-hat competition during the community build included (from left) Michael Currie, Kholofelo Hendrietta Mokgolo, winner Imraan Mollagee, Sharifa Abrahams and Mariam Nanhuck.

For the past five years, first-year construction studies students have participated in a 'community build' as part of their service-learning programme. Karen Le Jeune, a lecturer in construction studies, organises the community build with the Niall Mellon Township challenge programme.

The Niall Mellon Township Trust was started by Mellon, an Irish entrepreneur and philanthropist, in 2002. His aim is to build quality social housing for impoverished families living in shacks in South African townships.

The build gives the students an opportunity to learn and apply typical trade skills used in the construction industry and to engage with informal settlement communities. In September the students joined the builds in Mbekweni and Wallacdene, helping to complete 14 houses.

As part of the challenge, the students are also asked to fundraise. This year they collected R7 640 for Niall Mellon Township Trust. The trust also brings volunteers to South Africa to participate in week-long Building Blitzes.

Le Jeune attended a lunch on 11 November with the MEC for Housing, Bonginkosi Madikizela, to celebrate the 8th Building Blitz.

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