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Heroes of the Cape: Quinton Adams, philanthropist, humanitarian and the Shackbuilder.

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By Daanyaal Matthews

The Cape Flats is usually painted as being gang-ridden with suffering, hardship and injustice being experienced daily, while that may be true, the challenges often distract from the good work being done in local communities with the focus on criminals often overshadowing the charitable. One such individual who does sterling work across the community, and across South Africa, is Quinton Adams, founder of TheShackbuilder.  

Adams builds shacks for the destitute in impoverished communities. Speaking on VOC Breakfast on Wednesday morning, Adams stated that he is a psychologist by trade but has been involved with informal settlements for roughly 22 years, but this specific initiative came in the wake of the 2017 storms that rocked the Mother City. 

“On the 7th of June 2017, I decided to build and help people in Freedom Farm, an informal settlement next to the airport. That was the first time after 17 years working in informal settlements when I decided to build a new shack for people who had their shack destroyed. People after that decided to give me the name the Shackbuilder,” said Adams.

Ever since, Adams has worked towards bettering the lives of those living in squalor conditions with shacks and assisting various NGOs with materials and advice.  

The Shackbuilder, has also tackled the issue of youth unemployment, an issue that has plagued the Republic with over – roughly – 60% of the nation’s youth without jobs. Adams tackled this issue by training, and uplifting, members of the youth to keep them active while giving them a head start in the job market.

“We train young people, especially young people that have not completed matric, in becoming shack builders and we’ve trained over 100 individuals over the course of the year. During the winter we focus on humanitarian efforts and relief especially during the flooding where we have individuals assist with the water and give out food parcels for relief,” stated Adams. 

These skills being taught to youngsters can be utilized in their careers as the Shackbuilder does not simply build basic shacks but focuses on providing dwellings that are suitable for individuals to live thus giving the unemployed knowledge on building practices.  

While the term ‘Shackbuilder’ could give the idea that Adams only engages with the building of informal dwellings, his organization’s true purpose is providing humanitarian relief to those in need. This is epitomized with projects conducted in winter, where the organization distributes food parcels, and the 1000 bed project where the homeless are not only assisted with a dwelling but additionally a bed.  

The Shackbuilder while working in the confines of the nation has, and continues to, contact individuals across the globe to find better means of assisting those in need but also in attempting to find solutions to the growing social ills that plague our society.

‘We work with architectural students across the globe to build the best temporary shelters, and houses, for those living in squalor conditions in informal settlements, and backyards because I still believe we need to come up with workable solutions to these problems,” ended Adams. 

Photo: TheShackBuilder


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