Building a home for the most vulnerable impacts everyone involved. This interview highlights the impact from the builder’s eyes. Meet Steve Bishop, UK resident and longtime friend of Ten Thousand Homes.
How did you hear about Ten Thousand Homes?
I was introduced to Jeremy and Jen (two of Ten Thousand Homes’ founders) through a mutual friend in the UK. As members of Youth With A Mission (YWAM), we had a number of points of connection and friends in common.
What made you want to come build a home for someone?
As a result of meeting Jeremy and Jen, one of our teams decided to take an outreach to Ten Thousand Homes. When they came back, they told us that they not only got to be involved with the community outreach and children’s ministry, but they also got to help build a house. I started a conversation with Jeremy about the possibility of bringing a men’s team, and the plans started there. My current job involves a lot of meetings and not much practical service. This was something I was keen to address.
Do you have any particular building skills?
Depends on who you ask! When I was younger, I trained as a bricklayer and worked on building sites in the UK.
How many years have you come to South Africa to build a home for someone?
May 2020 will be the fifth year I’ve brought a team. So far I’ve brought over 25 guys from 9 different countries.
How has building a home impacted you personally?
It’s a regular reminder of the power of community, and it helps focus thinking away from yourself. The idea of safety, security, and normalcy are challenged when you are in a different environment. I’ve valued the deepening and strengthening of relationships with work colleagues and casual acquaintances that have accompanied me on teams I’ve brought. It’s been a great way to reconnect with friends, spending time together while engaged in a worthwhile cause.
Is there a particular home or moment that stands out to you personally?
Every time the keys get handed to the owner of a new home build. To work so hard, to give away what you’ve done, there’s nothing like it.
To be involved either in building a home or giving towards a home to be built, visit our Get Involved page!
Local girl, Felicia, first met our founders way back in 2000 when she was a small girl. She later reconnected with Ten Thousand Homes in 2012 whilst working as a Home Based Care volunteer in nearby community, eDwaleni. Since that joyous day, Felicia’s relationship with TTH has flourished so much so she is now part of the family. After graduating from a Discipleship School at uVillage Felicia joined the uVillage. She, along with her two children, lives and works on the uVillage campus exercising a growing gift of hospitality. She is now a pivotal member of our team where her jovial character and earth quaking laughter supply her and the others with endless entertainment.
uVillage, White River, South Africa
Builder, leader, legend…… Local lad, Sam, is the heartbeat of the uVillage maintenance team. Whether new construction, regular maintaining of the grounds, or emergency plumbing issues, Sam is is on the frontlines in the war to protect uVillage.
Following a chance meeting, Sam landed himself a temporary gardening role at uVillage. It wasn’t long before Sam was promoted to a full-time position in our grounds team.
Sam’s stupendous building abilities and relentless work ethic are matched only by the size of his heart. He is passionate about giving back to the communities from whose loins he was birthed. In addition to leading the uVillage grounds team, Sam is the spearhead of an initiative that seeks to provide sanitary towels, stationery, and uniforms for downtrodden female students in local high schools.
uVillage, White River, South Africa
Man of the world, Mzwandile or Swazi as we like to call him, is the leader of uVillage and Ten Thousand Homes South Africa. He is responsible for galvanizing the uVillage community toward a vision of hope and transformation. A keen explorer, Swazi’s time with Ten Thousand Homes has seen him venture to across Africa’s heart in far flung expeditions to Mozambique, Swaziland, Malawi, Uganda, and Kenya. As well as a life changing journey to India.
Further to his role, Swazi is an exercise enthusiast whose brute physical power has attained mythic status in TTH folklore. Built like a teenage bison, Swazi undertakes a grueling regime in order to ensure he remains in peak condition. Do not be mistaken, though.
Hailing from Iowa, USA, Rebekah first came to South Africa in 2013 to participate as a student in a uVillage training program. She returned to the corn fields and started a photography and creative design business but felt the pulling back to Africa. In 2017, Rebekah, along with her 2,148 books (maybe not that many but enough to fill a small library), joined Ten Thousand Homes staff as our “pretty maker.” She is the face behind the beautiful content that we publish. Rebekah also serves on our uVillage leadership team and exercises her pretty making by bringing her green thumb and all around goodness to the everyday life of the community.
Coming from a large family, Rebekah loves to entertain. Walking into her house, however, you might think you took a wrong turn to the jungle. Never fear. The love of plants is strong with this one. At least you know, while feasting on her delicious home baked foods, no one at the party will run out of oxygen.
Not long after visiting South Africa to build a home with TTH, Joel knew that he would be returning. In 2020, this Englishman left behind the shores of his homeland and set off into the unknown, ready to take on the adventure before him. He arrived in South Africa armed with an arsenal of power tools and the skills of a master craftsman, joining the uVillage team as the property manager. His eye for detail and keen sense of creativity has brought construction and development projects to life on the campus and in nearby communities.
Adventure, mixed with a healthy dose of English tea, courses through his veins. He can often be spotted charging through the dense bush with his faithful dog at his heels or scaling the side of the largest boulder in sight.
Jen is the doting wife of TTH czar, Jeremy. She is the Cleopatra to his Anthony, the omega to his alpha, the ocean breeze to his desert heat. A Jack of all trades, Jen has her fingers in many pies across the uVillage campus. As well as providing spiritual guidance to our often wayward female contingent, Jen is an events guru. She is the brains behind TTH’s thriving social scene and has planned numerous evenings of raucous entertainment. The Valentine’s banquet, Colour Party, and Easter masquerade would not have come to fruition without Jen’s expertise. In addition to her stoic organizational talents, Jen also dabbles in more expressive pursuits. Following a chance meeting with Michael Jackson on a teenage jaunt to Disneyworld, she became enthralled by the art of dance. Now an accomplished break-dancer, Jen wows the TTH family with an ensemble of gravity defying moves at both dance parties and during times of worship.
Hewn from the most rustic Texan oak, Jeremy is one of Ten Thousand Homes’ founding fathers. He is part of the fabric of our organisation and has played a key role in the conception and development of the TTH family. Jeremy was there on that most momentous of days nearly ten years ago when we erected our first home in a destitute South African slum. In his spare time ‘Jezza’ can often be found with a guitar in his hands and a melody on his lips. A skilled singer songwriter, his recent polemic ‘From The Woods’ is a chilling work capable of rendering the most cold blooded listener a quivering, foetal wreck. A must for any lover of the arts.