Ethical Building Team Works Together in El Salvador

Here at G.O.D. International we have a group of people dedicated to applying their minds and bodies, informed by a knowledge of God's word, to ethically practice the development of environments around the world. We have named this the “ethical building team”--a team focused on forming environments to best serve the human beings who reside in them. A poor living environment lends itself to a multitude of preventable diseases as well as poor psychological health.  We chose the term ‘ethical’ because although we are concerned with environmental sustainability, we are balanced with high call to serve the human being (and not just the environment) through our innovative techniques. We aim to do things economically so that our methods can be reproduced by those we care about in the third world.

As a group of individuals with specialized interests and skills, it is a powerful thing when we share our gifts with one another, and come together to make plans that impact our neighbors overseas. It is our desire to continue implementing these ideas and work through some of the very real problems that the poor face on a daily basis.  This training begins in Antioch, but is extended to each of our four international regions. Currently, at our headquarters in Tennessee, we are undertaking a 4000 gallon water catchment system on our property. We also have hopes of constructing a composting toilet and a system of rotating paddocks for goats and chickens--all of which are projects we have or plan to take to the field in the very near future.

This summer, one can catch a glimpse of the transference of these techniques to the third world--the true test of whether or not we have succeeded in our study and labor. For the next two weeks Skylar Aaseby, Seth Davis and Joel Olson will be working in El Salvador, furthering the efforts of our organization (as well as personally gaining valuable experience building abroad) as we complete the transitional housing for our development workers in El Salvador. We are meeting Jeremiah Watson and Michael Johnson, who have already developed much of our one-acre plot in Sitio Nuevo. Our small team has plans of building with earthbags, and developing a passive solar hot water system. Both of these projects can be easily replicated anywhere else in the world and have a very tangible impact on the lives of surrounding residents to the area.

This project will be taking place at the same time as another project, half a world away: Josh Kurtz and Cameron Kagay are partnering together to finish the triplex--a transitional housing unit for development workers from G.O.D. Int’l in Kabonge, Uganda. The G.O.D. Int’l triplex was built with compressed earth block and includes eco-toilets, and solar energy. The triplex will have indoor plumbing, and they will likewise be creating a solar hot water system.

In El Salvador, a major focus will be earthbag construction. Earthbag construction is a sustainable building technique that has great potential for providing adequate shelter to even the poorest of the poor. However, this material can be used for much more than the construction of homes. Earthbag cisterns, swales and ponds can divert and capture water for use in food production effectively helping to solve another major world problem: hunger. Other than dirt, the technique requires only three other components to make an unbelievably secure structure: seed bags, barbed wire, and small amounts of lime or cement (all three of which are readily available most places in the world).

Skylar Aaseby and Seth Davis arrange earth-bags to serve as a retaining wall for terraced garden bed. The earth bag wall will also enclose pipes to move grey water from inside the house to irrigate the ground without flooding it. 

A passive hot water system utilizes the sun’s energy to heat water instead of gas or electricity (which cannot be afforded by most people), or fire (which consumes valuable natural resources). Heating water traditionally over a fire is fine for a camping trip, but when done on a regular basis, can lead to lung disease, premature eye cataracts, asthma, and more.

Though the members of the ethical building team have various specialties and interests, and even commitments to serve long term in different areas of the world, this trip brings us together to gain competency as a team in the area of alternative building. We are confident that the relationships we have developed through learning the Word of God, and serving alongside one another in Tennessee, will continue as we develop the competency of ecology experts. This is not a goal for one of us as an individual, but for our team as a whole. We hope to utilize one another’s knowledge and expertise to strengthen our ability to solve very real issues facing the poor in El Salvador, East Africa, India, and the Philippines.