Last week we went back to Masiphumelele to paint on some of the newly built shacks. You can see that many of these new homes are made from recycled pieces of burnt zinc that barely survived the fires. My good friend Craig Johns is making a short film of the project and has taken some of these photographs above as well. As we were finishing up for the day a woman passed and said to us, “These birds I see them. These birds they will bring us peace.”
A week ago fires raged through a township nearby called Masiphumelele. Disintegrating 1500 shacks, this catastrophe left over 5000 people homeless and with little more than the clothes on their backs. The rebuilding started immediately; here the skeletons of new homes are seen being built the following day. Within 24 hours the government responded with truckload upon truckload of wood, zinc siding and tarps. Together with many of our friends, we have been sorting donations, helping to build new shacks, providing food and clothing, and painting of course – birds rising up from the ash. This structure was one of a few cinder block buildings to remain standing in the area. I asked the owner what he’d like written along with the birds and he said immediately, “uthixo luthando” which means god is love.
So often we go to bring hope, and instead find her smiling in welcome when we arrive.