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Engineer houses orphans in Mozambique

Faber Maunsell civil engineer and Northern Ireland ICE member Neil Reid, recently visited Massaca in Mozambique as part of a three year stint working with worldwide housing charity Habitat for Humanity (HFH) – whose mission is to provide people with the most basic of human rights, specifically shelter.

The community of Massaca is one of the poorest in the country. It started life as a refugee camp during the recent civil war and, despite being ravaged by AIDS and heavily affected by adverse weather, has established itself as a thriving community with a population of around 10,000.

Average life expectancy in Mozambique is currently about 37 years and more than 1M orphans are living in extreme poverty. Therefore, Habitat for Humanity in Mozambique is focusing on orphans and vulnerable children, providing not only shelter but also sanitation, mosquito nets and inheritance planning.

Over 300 houses have been constructed since March 2007, many built for orphaned children who live with grandparents or other substitute parents. "The houses are constructed through the Orphans and Vulnerable Children programme, which sees houses being built for children who have lost one or both parents to AIDS", Reid explained.

The houses – rondavels – are built using a concrete base, with wooden wall supports and reeds, topped off with a thatch roof. They are a very simple construction, but are more than adequate in providing the necessary shelter from the elements.

The houses are constructed in this fashion to allow any necessary repairs to be carried out cheaply and easily by the homeowner. "The trip was amazing and more successful than we could have ever hoped for. Our initial plans were to construct five houses, however due to our successful fund raising and work effort on site, we managed to complete a total of 15. This has helped provide in excess of 60 people with a safe place to call home," added Reid.

He has now been asked by the charity to lead another team back to Mozambique next year, and is only too delighted to do so. "This venture will allow me to see how this year’s new homeowners will have settled in and will allow us to provide more families with a new house and new hope," he said.

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