GOTG Housing Village - A Practical Intervention in Jukskei Floods

Disaster Management has warned people to move away from the Jukskei River and other similar rivers on the verge of flooding. Gift of the Givers Housing village in Alex is a testimony to an effective, decisive, life saving intervention in cases of floods.  "Project Higher Ground" as we named it was to relocate people from a lower level to a higher level within the same locality without displacing them kilometres away.

The practicality of this project and the quality of the housing village designed could be a model to be replicated throughout South Africa. A visit to the site during this time of flooding will be of immense value to decision makers. Occupants of this housing village, previously having been victims of repeated floods, can now openly express their state of joy and sense of security compared to the past. For details contact Emily Thomas, Cell: 08365203150836520315 .



New Homes for Alex Residents as Bulldozers Move In

The Alex housing village project finally comes to fruition today.  Established in response to the continuous floods on the Jukskei River and the concomitant loss of property and life a pro-active project in disaster response was urgently required to prevent the repetitive loss of valuable resources.  It's the same issue year in and year out; people live on the banks of the river, the floods come, people receive corrugated sheeting, food parcels and blankets - clearly an exercise in futility.

Gift of the Givers, in honor of Mandela Day, obtained land from the Johannesburg City Council and decided to relocate 71 of the most vulnerable families in what was called "Project Higher Ground".  Generously supported by Vodacom, ABSA, SA Post Office, Spectron, Air Liquid and the Zulekha Mayat Charity Trust the 7 million rand development commenced on a land less than 500m from the existing houses but on much higher ground. Full co-operation and participation from the city council was forthcoming at every level including grading of the land, removal of rubble and joint selection with community leaders as to the choice of worthy recipients.  The aim was not merely to establish a house but a whole housing village with the use of fire resistant building material, the establishment of ablution blocks including flush toilets and showers, gas equipped kitchens with full safety measures, vegetable garden, child play park, solar panels, paved driveways, fencing and security.  Internally, beds, linen, furniture, food parcels and hygiene packs were provided.  There was absolute jubilation and yet quite dignity as the first 35 families took occupation two weeks ago.  Today the balance of 36 families move in a controlled manner.  The families remove their belongings, the bulldozers destroy the existing house to prevent re-occupation in a high risk area, and are then transported to their new "state of the art" housing village.

This is Gift of the Givers third housing development; Duduza in 2011, Khayelitsha in 2013 and now Alex.  

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06/12/2013 - EMRS Christmas Party

GOTG distributes Personal Hygiene Packs to students and seniors in Pietermaritzburg.



Project Value

Ramatha Primary School

150 Sanitary Pads

R3 000.00

Woodlands Seniors

40 Personal Hygiene Packs

R16 000.00

Total Project Value: R19 000.00

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Alexandra Garden Project

On the boarder of Marlboro and Alexandra lies a "rubbish dump” given to GOTG by the SA Government. The land is an extension to the housing project in Alexandra and after careful consideration GOTG decided to turn it into a vegetable garden. A vegetable garden that will service not only the Alexandra Housing Village, but the many GOTG soup kitchens in Gauteng providing meals for thousands of people.

It was hard labour and long hours spent under the scorching sun but without complaint a common goal was in mind. Volunteers from the Cooperative Government Department (CWP) and Shomang Zebenza put their shoulders to the plough by removing the rubble, turning the soil, laying out the beds and finally adding fertilizer and seeds. To begin with the volunteers planted lettuce, tomatoes, onions, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, beetroot and lots of maze. What followed was the rain which came at the most opportune time showering the seeds and in no time the crops started sprouting. The first harvest of spinach was prepared as a healthy meal for all the volunteers who maintained the garden.

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Women Power Alex Housing Project

The day has arrived where 71 families (we added two more) are going to benefit from houses in much the same way as those in Khayelitsha following the shack fire on New Year's day this year.

The description of the housing village has been documented, you have seen the pictures of the prototype and read about the concept.  What is not known is who was the driving force behind this most successful village.  It was two women.  If you want perfection, if you want productivity and output, if you want labour of love and compassion, if you want the dignity, the honour and the respect of the marginalised and downtrodden to be upheld, if you want obedience, discipline and forthrightness, all for a good purpose, then you need Gawa Sayed and Mpho Netshifhefhe.  These were the women who have delivered probably the most outstanding rural housing village on the African continent.  These women worked day and night supervising men, commencing at 6am and at times finishing past midnight, Monday to Sunday, driven by a passion to serve, acutely conscious of the needs of the masses of our people in this country.  How else can you complete 71 houses in 71 days and within another 15 days establish paved driveways, a communal kitchen with 71 gas stoves, children's park with beautiful lawn, a massive vegetable garden, an ablution block with hot water and flush toilets, a fence and 24 hour security.

Who can set up the interior of the house with beautiful beds, decorative linen, colourful towels and lovingly prepared food parcels and hygiene packs.  Who can win over the community, listen to their grievances, patiently engage them and get buy in and acceptance of what was being offered.  It could only be women with caring hearts and a deeply compassionate ear.  Gawa runs Gift of the Givers Cape Town office but is the official Project Manager of Gift of the Givers Housing Projects (this is our third development in under two years).  Mpho, from disaster management and the Gauteng Provincial Government,  epitomises what a civil servant should be, a role model par excellance who responded to every request and delivered on each promise, forward thinking in every aspect of the project.  Always wearing the most disarming smile, never worn down by the ever increasing speed driven demands of Gift of the Givers projects, Mpho has been a miracle.   Gawa and Mpho made it happen. We pay tribute to these two outstanding women whose spirit of ubuntu is nothing short of remarkable.

The housing village will officially be opened by Ms Connie September, Minister of Human Settlements, at 11am today.

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Alex Housing Project

Please note that the opening of the Alex Housing Project has been postponed until further notice. In a personal meeting with President Zuma yesterday he apologised that he could not make the 4th September event as he now had to go to Russia a day earlier, meaning today. He has asked his staff to find the first available date to do the official opening and handover.

This postponement suits us fine as it gives us the opportunity to further enhance and develop the first role model housing village of its kind in South Africa, a prototype for future development in the country if not in the continent.

Words will not do justice to the development that has taken place in Alex. A personal visit will make manifest what has been achieved in just 60 days. The new date for the event will be announced soon.

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Alexandra Housing Project

Officials from Gauteng, Johannesburg City Council and Disaster Management, all official partners to Gift of the Givers, review the Alex Housing Project in preparation for an official Presidential opening and handover in September 2013. The project was launched in honour of Mandela Day. Thus far, 50 houses are complete, 19 more to go; a kitchen facility, ablution block, water provision, tarred road, cemented pathway, vegetable and flower garden are all in the process of development by a 72 person team on site; various aspects of the infrastructure has been supported by the government departments mentioned. Some of the houses have been sponsored by Vodacom, SA Post Office, Spectron, Air Liquid and Women's Cultural Group.

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Official Handover of Keys to Alexandra Village Residents

Gift of the Givers officially hands over the keys to 35 families who have been patiently waiting to take occupancy of their new homes in the Alexandra Village. Fully furnished with beds, bedding and cupboards, the houses gave each recipient a sense of security and restored their dignity.

Food parcels, hygiene and detergent packs together with a hot meal waited indoors for each of them. Some immediately made their way to the ablution block where they enjoyed a hot shower and toilets that flushed whilst others just lay on their new comfy beds. Over the next few weeks, 36 more families will be welcomed to the village.

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Tribute to Nelson Mandela

It takes a human of saintly stature to forgive and embrace with love a system that incarcerated him for 27 years, that destroyed the lives of countless people within the inner ranks and outside his movement, that caused estrangement and eventually separation in two marriages, that prevented him from being a father to his own children because of the demands and the sacrifices required to achieve freedom, equality and justice.  

Not once did he reflect any vindictiveness or hate, nor did he ask for the total replacement of the politicians, the security services or the civil servants involved in the active implementation and perpetuation of the apartheid monstrosity and its vile system of dehumanisation that eroded human liberty, displaced people from their legitimate lands and made them slaves in the land of their birth.  

There was no anger, no malice, but there was inclusivity in a shared government even to the point of embracing the notorious security and intelligence services in the personal presidential protection unit.  Including segments of the old apartheid anthem into the new, donning the No. 6 jersey of a sport which is reflective of the apartheid elite to the dismay of millions who hated that symbol are examples of his leadership.  He showed class, humanity and determination.  Never afraid to stand by his principle that all people of South Africa are one nation,  that intrinsically man of all cultures, races and religions are good and that love and inclusivity is the solution for a battered, divided and broken nation.  We surely can take a leaf out of this.  

This is no ordinary man.  May his soul be blessed, may he rest in peace and may all the patience and resilience be granted to family and friend alike.  

We are all witnesses to the humanity and selfless service of this world icon and salute his humility, kindness and compassion.  Go blessedly and peacefully Tata Madiba.

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Opening of Gift of the Givers Alex Housing Village

"Unimaginable", "Unbelievable", "Magnificent" are some of the terms used by people in the know and highly qualified professional builders to describe the housing village that evolved from rubble and a dump site at Alexandra.  

Pleasing and aesthetic, the houses are fire resistant with solar panels, ceilings and tile floors supported by a communal kitchen complex and an ablution block with hot showers and flushing toilets.  The complex is equipped with a park, lawn and well-spaced, paved brick driveways to allow easy access for emergency vehicles.  Add to that fencing and 24 hour security. What could be more fitting to honour Nelson Mandela as part of Mandela Day and in celebration of his 95th birthday.

Incorporating the elements of dignity, self respect and skills transfer local people were employed both in the building of the 69 house village and in the community garden established for sustainability.  

It is our hope that the housing village idea will be pursued by government and any interested in improving the living conditions of the masses within our nation.  Those skilled individuals can modify our prototype as we ourselves have so done.  Commencing with a Zozo house in response to the Duduza Tornado disaster in 2011 we substantially improved with the development of the houses in Khayelitsha following the New Year's Day fire disaster earlier this year.  But the development in Alex is absolutely unique and has attracted visitors from diverse fields who have marveled at the development of the housing village, the concept and the process of transformation in the region.  Be your own judge. Better still visit the site personally.  

We acknowledge the City of Johannesburg, Provincial Government, Disaster Management, Agriculture, the various departments and all those who made this project a reality.  The land, grading services, removal of rubble and many related facilities were provided collectively by these tiers of government.

A special thanks to our sponsors including Vodacom, Absa, Post Office, Spectron, Zulekha Mayat Charity Trust and Air Liquid.  

The Housing Village will officially be opened by the Minister of Human Settlements, Ms Connie September, on Friday, 11 October 2013, at 11am.

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Official Opening of GOTG Housing Village in Alex

Gift of the Givers together together with Air Liquide donates Food Parcels to the needy in Nelson Mandela Bay. The starting point was in Kensington at an old age home where pensioners complained of not having recieved a grant for more than three months. They were relieved to receive the food parcels as were the other recipients in Malabar Informal Settlement, Roman Catholic Church in New Brighton and Veeplaas.

The GOTG team honoured the poorest of the poor with their contribution on Mandela Day, some orphaned and homeless, others living in shacks with no electricity, toilets nor water. One has to rely on the kindness of local business owners and companies nearby for water.

Total Project Value: R30150.00

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Gift of the Givers Alex Housing Project

Activity is at a fever pitch at Alex on the site where Gift of the Givers are building 70 houses in honour of Mandela Day.  

Approximately 200 workmen are on site at this unique development, where in effect, we build a house a day.  But there's much more: a communal kitchen, communal bathroom, solar power, paved walkways, tarred roads, vegetable gardens, water supply and fencing.  Fire resistant building materials are used, houses are spaced out and emergency vehicles can access every building easily and safely.  These are all precautionary elements of this development.    

This unique prototype village has the total co-operation of the Gauteng Provincial Government, Disaster Management, Johannesburg City Council, Parks and Recreation, and Agricultural Departments.  Everything is on track for an official opening and hand over of houses on 4 September 2013.  The event will be graced by President Jacob Zuma, several cabinet ministers, the premier of Gauteng and the mayor of Johannesburg in acknowledgement of this special housing development in honour of our Nelson Mandela.    

But to witness the hive of frenetic building activity right now in these last days of development is an experience of a lifetime.  You are most welcome to visit the site up till Sunday, 1 September 2013, to catch a glimpse of all that is happening and share in the excitement.

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Disaster Response