Work Crew Labors at East African Hub in Uganda

Henry, Tom and Sam (l-r) were once just dear friends of ours. Now they are helping us develop our property on a daily basis as employees. Here, they fill the Compressed Earth Block brick press with filtered soil.

This December, the East Africa team sent a special “work team” to begin developing the land that will hold transitional housing for our development workers in the future. The team will be trained in utilizing Compressed Earth Block and will make several thousand bricks in just a few weeks. They will also work to clear pieces of the land for the construction of the housing and bathrooms, as well as creating road access. We are so grateful to have these hard working men (Cameron and Colin Kagay, Skylar and Rylan Aaseby--two sets of brothers--all representatives of G.O.D. International) working on our behalf. This crew was made even stronger by some visitors to Africa for the first time: Mike Boatman, Dave Hampe, and Vern Aaseby. This US team was joined by four Kenyan men as well as a Ugandan crew led by our East African cooperative, Francis Lubega--a mason by trade. The team is being trained and overseen by a Ugandan company who has extensive experience with Compressed Earth Block, Haileybury Youth Trust (HYT). Below, Rylan Aaseby recounts his experience.

Interlocking Stabilized Soil Blocks are created using local soil combined with basic materials. They are compressed together in a brick press, and then cured for 30 days, rather than fired, saving the cost and toil of gathering firewood.

This winter (Dec. 1-Jan. 7), our work crew has the opportunity to begin preparing a piece of land a few hours north of Kampala, Uganda. This property will be used for our development workers’ transitional housing and our organization’s East African headquarters in the near future. The property is situated on a lush 7-acre plot not far from where we have been working since 2004.

Our team (comprised of Kenyans, Americans, and Ugandans) has been hard at work, clearing areas of the land for future building and housing, as well as making compressed earth block, and graveling a stretch of land that will connect the land to the main road. Following fellowship, prayer, and time in the Word each morning, we men set off on a 3-mile walk to begin our day’s work.

Our primary task has been brickmaking with Compressed Earth Block (CEB). CEB is a building material that can be made locally at an affordable price. It utilizes soil, along with a stabilizer (cement, lime, gypsum) and is then compressed into a block, much like a brick, a sustainable tool for buidling. CEB reduces deforestation because it does not require firing, and also reduces the cost of transport and building costs up to 30% from conventional Ugandan bricks.  It is also more durable and ecologically friendly than conventional methods of building.

Making bricks with the CEB method is a feat of strength. In the first week we began, we made close to 3,000! The trainer from the company helping with construction and overseeing the process, Haileybury Youth Trust, said that in the 7 years he has been training groups in CEB, we have progressed faster than any other. The first day we made 200 bricks, the second 380, and the third 511. He has been very encouraged by our great attitude throughout our time with him.

Relationships built by the work crew, including Ugandans and Americans, as they work together towards a common goal. 

Though the work is intensive, fellowship is not forsaken. The worksite is full of laughter and conversation. Our lunch break consists of the shade of a tree, a large pile of posho (a sort of corn meal mash), beans, and sharing stories. We are often reminded of Psalm 133, and its declaration: “How wonderful and appealing it is when people can sit together in unity.”

Throughout our work, we continually remind ourselves that God is more interested in building people than building structures. So, while the bricks and gravel speak of our work, the developing friendships and deepening trust speak to our success. The Lord is doing wonderful things here. On our 3-mile walk back from work we are all thankful that we are not doing this labor alone, but with good friends--brothers. From Uganda, the G.O.D. East Africa team sends their greetings and asks for prayers. Mukama Abawe Omukisa (May God bless all of you).

 

Written by Rylan Aaseby