Tuesday, June 24, 2014
“The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” ― Maya Angelou
Here, and in all the rural areas of Tanzania, there is no real estate market. If you want a home, you just build one. The cheapest are of mud bricks. Then there are sun-dried bricks, and fired bricks, and finally, cement blocks (which are the most expensive but the best). Once built, homes tend to stay in families forever. Occasionally, because of a death or a divorce there is a home here and there to rent, and when we first moved here we rented a house that had belonged on one of a man’s three wives, but he divorced her and he got the house. Shaban has worked for us for ten years, but until four years ago, lived in Musoma and rode the bus down and back every day adding about three hours to his working day and costing him about $3.00 a day for bus fare. Then, four years ago, he moved his wife and family here to Bunda after finding a house to rent, but it has always been his dream to own his own home which he would build himself. When we first met ten years ago, he always talked of one day having his own home. At that time, my mother was 88 and in fairly good health, but I told Shaban that when she died, if she left me any money, I would give him $2,000 to help with building his own home. She died last year and when the money finally came, I kept my promise. Shaban married well and his wife’s family said they would pay for cement blocks if Shaban could find a way to make them. With my Mom’s money, he was able to get the land and build a foundation. Then, on a trip to Mwanza, we found a cement block maker and John and I split the cost of it and made it a gift to Shaban. He wasted no time (well, some because after spending an entire afternoon with it—he had only made two blocks) in hiring some guys who knew how to make the blocks and in four days had all he needed to put up the walls. It usually takes five to seven years to build a house here because there are no mortgages, when you have saved the money, you build some more. We have two houses as neighbors that are still under construction six years after they were begun. I think Shaban might build his in two years thanks to the help from his wife’s family. The picture at the right was taken last week. You can see how proud he is. He and his family visit the site once a week and his little boy has already staked his claim to a room. He is even going to have indoor plumbing which is rare in a Tanzanian home. We were proud to be a part of his realizing his dream. All told, it will cost about $8,000 USD to finish his house, but only working after you have the money means it will take a while, but when you move in—there is no mortgage. He is also happy that his wife’s family lives in Musoma, so he probably won’t have to have any of her family members living with them (a common occurrence here). He will put a lintel around the top of the walls pretty soon and then wait to save the money to do more. It’s not a bad way to build a home that is paid for when you move in. He is happy and that makes us happy.