Homes for Vastrap

2016-01-27 06:00
Desiree Tee hangs out her washing in front of her new home. Photo: WERNER HILLS

Desiree Tee hangs out her washing in front of her new home. Photo: WERNER HILLS

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THE Ford Struandale Engine Plant has transformed the lives of 10 families from the Vastrap informal settlement in Booysen Park, Port Elizabeth, with the installation of shipping containers converted into safe and secure housing units.

Five containers were completely renovated, converted and subdivided to provide houses for 10 destitute families, the sick and the elderly. A sixth unit was also prepared as a multi-purpose facility for community meetings, classroom for the children and a skills development centre.

The containers were installed in December, and gave the new residents a formal dwelling in the so-called ‘Blue Village’.

This represented a life-changing upgrade from the dilapidated make-shift shacks they previously called home.

Apart from the housing units, the team from the Struandale Engine Plant also installed two mobile toilets, providing essential ablutions in an area that has to make do without basic services such as sanitation. A handful of communal taps service the thousands of people living in the informal settlement.

The new containers joined the five existing units that were installed in 2014 as part of Ford’s annual Global Week of Caring. This gave the first 10 families a safe, comfortable and weather-proof environment that guaranteed dramatically improved living conditions - particularly in the cold and wet winter months.

“We have had an incredible response and support from around the world for the Vastrap container housing project that we started in 2014, and are delighted to launch this second phase that makes it possible to accommodate and improve the living conditions of 20 families in total,” said Hyron Muniz, Production Manager at the Ford Struandale Engine Plant and the project lead.

“This project was only made possible through the generous support and dedication of our partners, starting off with the Ford Motor Company Fund that provided the funding for the conversion of the shipping containers.”

Port Elizabeth-based non-profit organisation, KICK, handled the extensive transformation of the containers, and co-ordinated the administrative side of the project.

“The Office of Human Settlements at the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality was integral to the project from the outset, providing the land for this housing project, and co-ordinating the selection process of the recipients in conjunction with local councillors,” Muniz said.

The Ford team also extended huge gratitude to freight company, Hamburg Süd, which donated shipping containers for both phases of this project, along with BLG Logistics and MOL South Africa that each supplied two containers for this new wing. Since its inception, Freight Solutions has handled all the transport requirements of the containers at no cost.

It’s not just the big ticket items that count, though, and a Port Elizabeth charity, the Al-Fidaa’ Foundation, assisted by using material supplied by Ford to make curtains for all 10 houses. The curtains were cut, sewn and delivered within a remarkable 24-hour period.

“On behalf of the community and the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, I would like to thank Ford and all its partners for everything they are doing to assist those in need,” said Erika Potberg, a social worker in the Office of Human Settlements, Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality.

“These housing units are a wonderful and much-needed solution, particularly for the disabled, elderly and vulnerable members of our community.”

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