Have you ever felt drawn to a higher calling? Faith is all around us and hope comes in many different forms and shapes.
‘For I know the plans I have for you’, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ Jeremiah 29:11
Faith can also unite people worlds away. This is the story about how a young couple in South Africa, Jacques and Lee-Ann Hammer, and an American architect met because of a common purpose – and shape. But first you must understand the need.
The Hammers believe Abōd® Shelters are the solution to solving the need for basic housing in Africa – which remains the poorest continent on earth. According to Gallup World, in 2013, the 10 countries with the highest proportion of residents living in extreme poverty* were all in sub-Saharan Africa. *Extreme poverty is defined as living on $1.25 or less a day. Here are just a few of the statistics about what it is like to live in extreme poverty in Africa:
- Approximately one in three people living in sub-Saharan Africa are undernourished.
- In sub-Saharan Africa, 589 million people live without electricity.
- Of the 738 million people globally who lack access to clean water, 37% are living in sub-Saharan Africa.
- Poverty in Africa results in over 500 million people suffering from waterborne diseases.
- Fewer than 20% of Africa women have access to education.
- Uneducated African women are twice as likely to contract AIDS and 50% less likely to immunize their children.
- Women in sub-Saharan Africa are over 230 times more likely to die during childbirth or pregnancy than women in North America. 230 times!
- More than one million people, mostly children under the age of five, die every year from malaria. 80% of these victims are African children.
But what speaks louder than statistics is seeing first-hand what the living conditions are in one of the 2,700 Informal Settlements located in South Africa. Take a walk (video below) with Jacques and Lee-Ann Hammer in Africa to see the need through their eyes and what their vision is for building a sustainable Village of the Future using Abōd® Shelters.
What is significant to me is that this incredible couple didn’t get involved for the business opportunity or to make a name for themselves, they got involved with Abōd® Shelters because of faith and a higher calling to make a difference:One House. One Family. One Day at a time.
Lee-Ann Hammer says “it was a miracle” how it happened. She was told by strangers at a very young age that she would change lives in Africa – but she had no idea in what way, shape or form. She grew up in a Christian home, attended college, got married and did some mission work traveling to different countries. She had a hunger and passion for helping the poor but became discouraged because she wanted to do so much more. She prayed continually that she would find a solution until one night she had a dream…
She was on a piece of land with her mother sowing seeds and pulling weeds. She saw small homes of a particular shape pop up out of the ground. When she awoke Lee-Ann understood the message she received was important so she carried on in faith and quickly doodled what the homes looked like from her dream. After searching the internet, she found what she was looking for: Doug Sharp and Abōd® Shelters.
The Hammers hesitantly reached out in faith from South Africa to an American architect named Doug Sharp, Chairman of the Board with BSB Design and Founder of Abōd® Shelters. Because of their passion to get involved, Doug traveled to Johannesburg to meet this young and determined couple. Faith, a higher calling, and belief in a dream about a shape that would help make a change in Africa, had brought people together who otherwise had no connection. After this meeting, Abōd® Shelters Manufacturers in Africa was born.