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Here at WWISA we have long believed that one of the key contributors to making a real difference to conditions within our local rural communities lies in the provision of habitable accommodation and other community facilities for use by residents of all ages and backgrounds. The backlog on public-sector provisioned core residential units is evidenced by the growing number of self-built informal shacks created from plastic sheeting and timber scrap whilst many basic housing units constructed during the 1970’s are now visibly showing the effect of minimal maintenance and long-term neglect.

It will come as no surprise that whilst the global recession is affecting lives across the world, those in already dire living conditions are in an ever-increasing need of urgent assistance.

The ‘shack’ pictured above (home to a lady called Katrina, now in her late 60’s) is a real-life example of the conditions faced by this part of society - and is by no means the worst situation to be found.

Houses built in earlier decades have become dilapidated, dangerous, and seriously cramped as families have grown and unemployment and disability continue to increase. One such house is the one pictured below. This currently accommodates a total of 9 people in a space of 3m x 3m (9 x 9 feet). Of the 9 people sharing the units three beds, only 1 is an able bodied employed person. Of the others 4 are blind or partially sighted; 2 are in their late 70’s and unable to move around freely and 2 are children under the age of 5.

Whilst the provision of housing and community facilities is not our primary focus or sole opportunity for service, all volunteers now have the opportunity to contribute to making a meaningful difference by working alongside local semi- & well-skilled building personnel during their first fortnight of service to repair and refurbish residential units such as those described above. Volunteers will provide hands-on assistance to patch and seal cracks in walls, roofs and floors; to paint; to glaze; to do garden preparation – all needed tasks requiring little more than a good energy level.

WWISA will continue negotiations with local authorities to accelerate the delivery of needed accommodation and communal facilities but feel that projects like these above examples ideally lend themselves to volunteers’ hands-on involvement to make a meaningful difference.