Friday, August 10, 2018

Week Six: Mayo Building Workshop hosted by Mayo Women’s Association – ‘Dalu for Development’

 This was a week of firsts, seconds, and lasts.
First visit from Dr. Abdelgadir from University of Khartoum,
and the long awaited first business class
First visit from Dr. Abdelgadir to start his long awaited business class.

The team immediately demonstrated how smart and engaged they are.

The professor gave them a test to determine if they have ‘entrepreneurial’ potential, then the class requested instruction on market identification, feasibility studies, and business plans. 

First business class: the ladies of Mayo demonstrate their accumulated knowledge on business and have multiple questions for their professor

First visit from the AECOM DC and Khartoum folks working on the USAID/TEPS
(Toward Enduring Peace in Sudan) projects. They were pleased with the team's progress.
Ustaz Hooman explains the dome to Khartoum based Dr. Abdalla (director of AECOM)
and Mr. Mohammed Elamin, and DC based ladies Ms. Manar and Ms. Muriel 
HS4S director continues her habit of passing the camera to some of the crew to take pictures, this time Abeer Abdalahi gets some camera credits.
Abeer takes her first portrait shot of Ustaz Hooman 

Abeer takes her first portrait shot of Aaron from For A Purpose
Abeer takes her first portrait shot of
Engineer Mubarak from NOHS

Abeer takes her first portrait shot of Bushara from Mayo

Mohanned Nady, Director of NOHS makes his
first visit to Mayo

Team has second meeting with Ustaz Hooman to discuss the accuracy of the window placements 
Leila poses for her second portrait
The 'Engineers' and Earth-builder Aaron pose with Ustaz Hooman for the first picture
on the first stages of his built in bench co-designed by the team 

The team said good bye to the blue mixer: the merchant broke the agreement and refused to
maintain it, so we said Allahyibarikfik to him and decided to end our quest for a mixer
USAID/TEPS gave a small going away lunch for their undergraduate intern Reem Awad, who has been a great help to the project. We said thank you and farewell. 

Our awesome team continues to amaze us! After their classroom instruction on the dome during a rainy day last week, four of the trainees came back with some 'on paper designs' of their individual house ideas. 

We had purchased some iron beams for the second floor this week when the management found itself out of money.  We still needed to pay for the water and the transport of some of the materials. The team all dug in their pockets to collect the money to fill in until we could get some more! Now we are definitely family, and the class owns the project! 

The crew allowed Raha Faridi (visiting Khartoum with her man Ustaz Hooman) to take some amazing portraits:
Councilman Abdul Raazig from Mayo

Rehab Garma from Dalu 

Mohammed Issa from Malam Project in Darfur

Leila Khamis from Mayo's Dalu for Development
Amgd Musa from Mayo

Bushara Ahmed from Mayo
HS4S’s director met with with the UN Environmental program this week. They were hesitant about the housing method because they thought it was too expensive. We replied that it is much longer lasting than the cheaper kinds, and why are we relegating the returnees to cheap houses –  they should be going back to something better than they left behind during the wars!

If the Darfur people want something, they will find out how to get it… like a nice safe house. Everyone needs to climb out of the 'poverty mentality' - including the international community and work toward a prosperous peaceful future.

One of the UN engineers pointed out that the 'superadobe' will not crack with the shifting cotton soil like the concrete walls in Khartoum. Next week will see a very advanced example of this with the rising dome!

Ahmed Ali from Mayo, the newly promoted earth mix supervisor
(AKA Dr. Turab)

Abeer Abdalahi from Mayo (whose grandfather wants to build in Port Sudan)
Ahmed Abubaker from SHPDO (AKA Big Red)

Asjad from ARC Peace who wrote her thesis
on alternative housing materials

Suleiman Musa who is working on the Malam project in Darfur

Seifeldin Nour working on the Malam project in Darfur

Rashid Adil working on the Malam project in Darfur

Fatima Abdul Samad from Mayo's Dalu for Development

Abubaker Omer from SHPDO

Engineer Mujtaba Mohamed from NOHS

Friday, August 03, 2018

Week Five: Mayo Building Workshop hosted by Mayo Women’s Association – ‘Dalu for Development’

This week started a bit slow.
Saturday evening and Sunday morning brought a nice rainstorm with lightening, which dried out for Sunday and Monday but left  small lakes in some areas.
Nearby flooded soccer field with mosque (picture taken by Ustaz Hooman)

Sunday the truck was out of diesel fuel and with the shortage, our team driver spent the whole day waiting in line for fuel only to find that he needed a special permit from the Ministry of Transportation.  Fuel shortages meant that delivery of soil and other supplies were limited. The work started a little late, nevertheless all was well. We were excited to get our ‘working’ mixer delivered, but it too was delayed until Monday. 
Basic supplies for the domes in our store room: barbed wire, polypropylene bags and cement
 The team took the time to make some decisions on the placement of windows, so a round – table/dome discussion (their third of the class) ensued. Ustaz Hooman explained the different methods of mapping out the window frames. The team gave their suggestions on the placement of the windows for the best ventilation. By day three, the window frames were visible. The smaller sized bags (50 cm) made for even faster work, and the team members are seeing their masterpiece materialize. 
Checking out the window frame and standing on the masterpiece

The gang poses

Monday the mixer arrived with a mixer expert and mechanic to teach the team how to operate it. Several of them quickly mastered the techniques, though the mixer is old and rickety, and requires a few ‘rigged’ pieces to make it work. It was a learning curve for everyone to figure out how it was faster to have a mixer than to mix by hand, and by the end of the day they had adjusted to its rhythm.  Mixers are generally for concrete.

A blue mixer arrives


Tuesday it rained the full day making work on the site difficult, so it was a classroom day. Ustaz Hooman worked on some adaptable designs with the class for Darfur. He gave them design assignments. They brought up questions that they had on costs and were arguing to not have cement. The classic example arrived when the rain caused a house across the street to collapse. Ahmed Ali explained to the team that the cement prevented the soil from melting.

Alia’s uncle arrived on site again on Wednesday! He is very serious about rebuilding Wadi Halfa and is looking to hire some of the trainees when they finish their course. We told him that the SHPDO and NOHS folks are going off to work for their respective NGOs, but that the Mayo guys might welcome the work, at least the ones who are not married.
Israa from ARC Peace

Impending rain

It seemed like a short week because of the rain, but Thursday was a fun day in particular. HS4S’s director, who usually takes the pictures handed the camera to Leila who took over.  We were astonished to meet an old friend from Port Sudan - Abeer’s grandfather who had come to visit. We had met ‘Captain Dejango’ when he took us snorkeling in Port Sudan two years ago and then on a trip to Arkawit. Such a small world! Mohamed (AKA Captain Dejango) wants to build a resort on the Red Sea using the earth bags.
Abeer's grandfather with Aaron

Alia and Reem from AECOM/ USAID/TEPS came out to the site to interview the team and get their views on the project. They reported positive feedback and general optimism and excitement about the project. One of the women reported the project has empowered her and made her realize how much she is capable of doing. We have watched the whole team gain confidence and initiative. The earth-builders from Belgium and Ustaz Hooman are daily demonstrating a great work ethic.
Reem and Alia set up shop for their interviews

The ladies pose in their Thursday night finery

Abeer poses in her tobe

Rashid with Thor's hammer
Clothes drying near the flood waters a few meters from the work site
Rehab contemplating the work

Abubaker and Bushara enjoying their tasks

Ustaz Hooman checks the placement of the bags
with the chain compass

Friday, July 27, 2018

Week Four: Mayo Building Workshop hosted by Mayo Women’s Association – ‘Dalu for Development’

Continuing our fourth week of the project training the trainers for low cost, secure, environmentally friendly houses for the Sudan.

This week again started quite toasty with temperatures well into the 40 degrees (Centigrade), and Saturday’s quest for a working mixer extended into the whole week. We had a brief glimmer of hope on Tuesday that one of the ladies' cousin might fix the mixer with a used Chinese motor, but no go. Nevertheless, the 'teamsmanship' continued with cheerful work on what has now become the ‘chef d’oeuvre’ of the class. 
Ustaz Hooman stands on the structure with a steel tamper, and Engineer Mugdba with the white cap waves from the center
 By Monday the crew made use of the new pink 50 cm bags from Afra Plastics Industry and wow did it seem so much faster even though they are still mixing the earth mixture by hand. The building is growing overnight practically and even Bernard from the South is now excited for someone to take the technology to his area of the world.  We showed him pictures of the three-dome dwelling that our partner Engineer Ted Miyaki built in Tonj.  The whole community is catching the vision of this building and they want to take the method to their respective areas in the Nuba Mountains and Darfur as well as South Sudan.
Ustaz Hooman measures the placement of the bags 
with the chain compass, while Leila, 
Abubaker and Mubarak fill the bags

Abubaker (from SHPDO), Mubarak (from NOHS),
 and Seifeldin (from AECOM/Darfur) admire
their handiwork

Mathias left on Sunday to go back to Belgium to visit his grandfather who is ill and for a break. He and Djo have been working steadily in Nepal and the Sudan for the past nine months. 
Djo and Ustaz Hooman pose with the ladies:
Fatima, Leila, and Rehab

Everyone has been asking: ‘when is the business class going to start?’ The former Dean of School of Management at the University of Khartoum is arranging the course. They will get to sit out an extra hour during the day to listen to business classes for two days a week for four weeks. 
Team meets to choose leaders, Sheikh Ahmed translates
 The team met on Tuesday at the end of the day to choose two leaders to guide them with the work on Wednesday morning as Djo would be gone and Hooman was meeting his wife who arrived this week.  We thought that the rest of the buttressing would provide an area where they could test their skills on their own for a day without the expert or the earth builders around.  They chose Mubarak and Abubaker – good choices! 
King of the Mountain 
(Engineer Mubarak)

Wednesday when we all arrived late afternoon we were amazed at how much the class had finished on their own - two layers of the 60 cm bags on the buttressing of one dome and one layer on the other one.  Phenomenal work! We are confident more than half of the class could already independently build and teach others how to build the domes.

Abubaker becomes an expert
Pink on pink: The pink/salmon colored bags made for some great photo ops

Leila and Sheikh Ahmed 

Aaron (looks like Djo from back) from For a Purpose assists Ustaz Hooman 
 Wednesday we gained Djo and Mathias’s colleague Aaron Serruys, also from Belgium. After a day’s rest, he joined us on Thursday. Aaron is as exotically tattooed, pierced, and dreadlocked as Djo and Mathias, garnering quite a bit of attention driving to and from work in our project Hilux, and lots of questions about the art work from the team. 
Architect Adam and Djo at going away dinner

The original inspiration for the whole project – architect Adam Chaluspki - returned from a trip home to Poland this week to his work at Downtown Center in Khartoum where he is pursuing 'Forensic Architecture' with Dr. Seif from University of Khartoum. A conversation with Adam at Sweden House with the ARC Peace Sudan folks (and Dr. Osman Elkeir), inspired Homes for Sudan’s director Dr. Marie Besancon to team up with ARC Peace, For A Purpose, SHPDO, and NOHS to try one more time to bring the ‘Superadobe’ building method to the Sudan. Adam and Marie quickly collaborated on some proposals following the enthusiastic encouragement of Adam, who had heard of our earlier efforts at earth-building in the Sudan. USAID/TEPS (Toward Enduring Peace in Sudan) took up the vision.
Aerial view week four with the Homes for Sudan's Director Dr. Marie, Ahmed Ali, Mohammed Issa, Amgd, and Seifeldin
It was the right timing as the stars aligned; USAID/TEPS brought us the Mayo/Dalu ladies organization to host the project along with some funding, and the University of Khartoum’s Faculty of Architecture Dr. Ahmed Abdalla decided to make it a university research endeavor.  While back home in the US, HS4S’s director raised some funds from long time supporters the Stead Foundation, and newer partner, the Seeds For Jubilee Foundation (that is interested in endeavors for the betterment of humanity) has lent support for some of the Sudan projects.
Ahmed Ali, Mohammed Issa, Amgd, and Suleiman
Waha from ARC Peace Sudan joins in

Aaron, Waha, and Rashid unfurl the sandbags

  Clockwise from top left: Fatima, Abubaker, Bushara, Ahmed Ali, Mubarak, Seifleldin, Djo, Rashid, Adam (team driver), Mugdba (Engineer from Sudan University), Amgd, Usaz Hooman, Bernard (hiding), Sheikh Ahmed, Suleiman, Leila, Rehab, Abeer, Mohammed Issa, Ahmed Abubaker, Abdul Raazig (teammate from the city council)

Djo left on Tuesday to return to Europe after nine months away working in Nepal, then Sudan. The team took a farewell picture with Djo, but they were not too sad since he is returning at the end of August to help put the finishing touches on the building.