Addressing the Right to Adequate Shelter

Written by Lizzy McCormack

We don’t think that anyone would argue the importance of having a safe, secure place to live. But can you truly imagine what it would be like to live without?Take Sala* and her family for example.When Free To Shine met Sala almost 2 years ago, her house had walls that were full of holes, and a roof that leaked every time it rained. Sala is now 16 years old and in grade 8. She lives with her mother and four younger siblings who are 14, 12, 3, and almost-1 years old. Her father left abandoned them just days after the birth of his youngest child, and married someone else. This left Sala and her family extremely vulnerable, as her mother couldn’t work, meaning they had no income. As the eldest, breadwinning responsibility therefore fell to 15 year old Sala, who soon began skipping school to hunt for ants in the forest which she could feed her family or sell at market.  After a delivery of emergency food supplies and a whole lot of social support from Free To Shine, our team decided to build the family a vegetable garden and Sala was able to return to school. Since then, Sala’s mum has returned to work making baskets for $20 per month. However, on this income she was clearly unable to save funds to build the new house she and her children desperately needed.[caption id="attachment_6857" align="alignleft" width="678"]

Sala's Old House

Sala's Old House[/caption][caption id="attachment_6859" align="alignleft" width="678"]

During the Build

During the Build[/caption][caption id="attachment_6858" align="alignleft" width="678"]

Her Completed Home

Her Completed Home[/caption]Choosing a family to build a house for takes our Social Workers several weeks, as Free To Shine has strict criteria, such as their current living condition, how many people will live in the house, if it is a female-headed household, and the parent’s level of dedication to their children’s education. Once chosen, the build is a collaborative process and the family is involved in the planning and construction. We source local materials and the family choose a local builder they trust.Thanks to a generous donor, we were able to build a new house for Sala’s family, as well as for four other families. Having a home provides security, safety and stability, but this is just the beginning. From this, a sense of dignity grows and along with it, hope. Children who grow up in safe, stable home are more likely to have the opportunity to pursue education, have a higher standard of living later in life, and for future generations to come.* Name has been changed for privacy.