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NCC-Habitat for Humanity 2002 "Durban Build Team"
Third Day Report from Johannesburg
From Team Member Phyllis Belk of Philadelphia, Pa.
May 31, 2002

May 31, 2002, JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- A group of 45 American volunteers traveling in South Africa under the auspices of the National Council of Churches U.S.A. were hosted at a banquet tonight (May 31) by the South African Council of Churches in partnership with the Umsobomvu Youth Fund.

The Americans were warmly welcomed by the General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches, Dr. Molefe Tsele, who told them how much he admired the work they would be doing at the Jimmy Carter Work Project 2002 for Habitat for Humanity during the week of June 2 in Durban.

He said he admired Habitat so much he thought it was past time for a Nobel Award to that organization.  He said that for an impoverished black South African who had lived under apartheid, there was nothing more noble than being able to say, "This is my address," as a homeowner.

He also said that he was "troubled by the actions of some Americans who want to come to Africa to evangelize us.  We are being colonized by some religious groups coming here to evangelize us.   It is so much better when you come here to work with us.  Habitat is a program that promotes dignity."

Dr. Bob Edgar, National Council of Churches General Secretary, who is leading the group of American volunteers, said in response, "I want to make it clear that all of us in this group have not come to evangelize, but to be evangelized by you, and feel blessed to be working with you."

The leaders of all the groups represented at the banquet expressed a desire to continue to find ways to partner.


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