'500 village graduates have found jobs and apartments in the past year'
The community, of about 60 people at any one time, is self-governing, with rules made by consensus, and has a strict drugs and alcohol ban on the premises. The residents build their own shelters, with the help of volunteers, from whatever they can lay their hands on in terms of donated and recycled material. Everyone is required to help with chores (such as recycling all rubbish) and there are unofficial systems to help people find jobs and places to live. 500 ex-village residents, or 'graduates' as they are called, have found jobs and apartments since early 2001, with others kicking drug habits or regaining custody of their children.
'Pulling their own weight encourages self- reliance and self-respect'
The key to the village's success, according to its founder Ibrahim Mubarak is that everyone has to pull their weight, which encourages the growth of self-reliance and self-respect. Rather than being spoon-fed short-term solutions, the homeless are encouraged to help themselves by being given the stability and opportunity to change their circumstances. Now, despite seven different locations in the past year, the villagers look like they may have a chance of a permanent site for their community as the local council has agreed to help them in a pilot, project. The aim is to have a sustainable urban village, democratically run, and, on the basis of what has been achieved so far, it might just happen.
Article as included in the Institute for Social Inventions book.