AT 70 years of age, Shai Khomonala had lost hope of ever owning a decent house that would shield him from the harsh weather conditions.
Mr Khomanala of Ha Mahlelebe, outside the capital Maseru, had inherited the derelict rondavel he called home from his parents many years ago. Once it had provided warmth and comfort, but in 2016, strong winds came and blew away part of the roof, making it difficult for him to sleep in a partially open structure. Mr Khomonala had no choice but to seek refuge from his neighbours in the summer rain and winter seasons.
However, after living in near homeless circumstances, Habitat for Humanity Lesotho came to his rescue and offered to construct a decent two-roomed house, which was viewed during the World Habitat Day, belatedly commemorated in Koro Koro last Friday. The global annual commemoration is on 1 October. The house is currently at roof level.
Another child-headed family will also receive a two-roomed house, now almost complete, after their old house collapsed following some heavy rains in February last year.
In an interview this week, The National Director for Habitat for Humanity Lesotho Mathabo Makutla they decided to help the two families after realizing their dire living conditions.
“We worked with the community, which helped us to identify the two households in need of decent houses. As you know, having a decent shelter, which you call home is a human rights issue. In recognition to this important fact, the United Nations designated the first day of October as the World Habitat Day, to reflect on the importance of ensuring decent housing for all people, in addition to encouraging governments and various actors to prioritise programmes that ensure that the state of towns and cities are functional and in line with present day expectations,” Ms Makutla said.
The organization’s programmes targets vulnerable groups including the elderly, orphans and people with disabilities, who cannot afford decent housing.
“In the case of the two families we supported, we were moved by their plight and decided to improve their living conditions. We have mobilized some 30 young volunteers to support the construction,” Ms Makhutla said.
One of the beneficiaries, Mr Khomonala was all smiles when he explained how his new house was going to change his life.
Seeking shelter at his neighbours’ residence and struggling to protect his belongings from the rain will soon be a thing of the past, he said. Although he will soon have a new house, he said he will keep his old house as it held so many good memories about his family.
“I have been staying in this house my entire life. My parents left me this house for me when they passed away. Despite its poor state, I would like to wake up every morning and see it because it reminds me of my parents,” Mr Khomonala said.
He was grateful for the new house under construction, saying lack of a place to stay had been his biggest challenge in the last two years.
“I could not afford building a new house as I depend on odd jobs, such as helping my neighbours in their fields. I earn very little from the work I do, that sometimes I even struggle to feed myself.”
The other two orphans aged 12 and 17 are also happily waiting for the construction of their new house to be completed.
They had moved in with their late uncle’s family after their house was destroyed by some heavy rains.
“We had been staying in our family home since the death of our parents in 2008. When our house was destroyed last year, it was a nightmare because our wish was to remain in the house our parents left us. We had no other choice but to move-in with our late uncle’s family.”
The two brothers said they were happy to be soon moving back to their family residence and staying in a new house.