Friday, July 13, 2018

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

All the trainees from SHPDO, NOHS, and DALU (the Sudanese NGOs) arrived by the first day for the training workshop (last week our earth-builders tore down the old building - see last week's blog below). By the second day we added two trainees from DALU.  Next week the four representing the AECOM NGOs in Nyala, Darfur will arrive.
Ahmed Ali, Abdul Raazig, Amgd, Ahmed Abubaker, Fatima, Bushara, Leila, Raania, Abeer, Rehab, Abubaker, and Mubarak – sitting in the rock foundation (the bag full of rock as well for drainage)
On day one, we had our introductions, almost learned everyone’s names, had some video training on the computer, some instruction on earth testing and cement percentages necessary for different kinds of earth, and then mapped out the foundation.

After training the crew on soil testing, Ustaz Hooman asked one of the engineer trainees (Mubarak) to give the same demonstration the second day, re-enforcing the knowledge for the trainees to pass along.
Ustaz Hooman (Berkeley graduate in architecture) demonstrating soil types, 
the silt test, and cement tests

At the end of the second day, the digger that was supposed to dig the foundation arrived, but the team on the ground had nearly dug the entire foundation by hand. Even the women rocked with their shovels!!!
Ladies rocking with their shovels and wheel barrow   

Engineer Raania shoveling

Earth-builder Djo shoveling

We wanted to discard the large pile of concrete chunks and rubble from the tear down of the old building as it was in the way and ugly. We commissioned the guy who was supposed to dig the foundation to haul away the rubble but one of the community leaders arrived and insisted on keeping it, and spreading it out in the compound to help stave off flooding. They took the large chunks of concrete and piled them up by one of the concrete walls of the Habitat compound that is falling down.  In the end, the community was correct to keep the material.

The bulldozer

Habitat representative and Nisryya (who is in charge of the cooking), Rebah, Asjad from ARC Peace, Raania, and Mubarak
Mubarak, engineer from NOHS, wields a pickaxe (digging the foundation)
The ladies of the community are cooking ‘breakfast’ (early lunch in Western time) daily for the trainees and our earth-builders. We hadn’t budgeted for food, but wanted to involve the community in caring for the project so decided to ask the women to cook and pay them out of the contingency fund. In general, for such a labor-intensive training workshop, the complaints were few, and none at all from the ladies, who rocked!!
Rehab, Abeer, and Raania
Filling one bag layer full of rocks for the base of the foundation
We took on board a recent grad from the University of Khartoum as ‘assistant manager’.  He helps with daily monitoring of attendance, bookkeeping, translation, and general problem solving. He did a great job the first week! Between discussions on all of virtues of Islam (to which he has the zeal of the young), he also helped do the hard labor! Impressive. All of the workers break for prayer at 12:30+ and 15:30+, though we have encouraged them to go in shifts so that the work doesn’t stop completely.
Abdul Raazig

Monday a guy with a cane showed up saying one of the community leaders had sent him, and he started working on the site. Ahmed Abdulrachman, our assistant manager and I gently took him aside and said that probably he shouldn’t be lifting anything. We wondered why he showed up, and it turned out he was our applicant for the security guard position. We negotiated a bit, and came up with a salary, a plan, and a demand from him. So, Bernard from various places in South Sudan (from where exactly, it was unclear) is the security guard for the time being.

Assistant manager 

The work is not easy, but we were blessed with a few breezy days bringing the temperature down a bit. Hooman, Djo, and Mathi are doing a great job of developing ‘ésprit de corps’ among the team who are very proud of their work. Homes for Sudan’s director is dividing her time between Mayo and the University of Khartoum (for other joint efforts with University of Khartoum, US embassy, and Portland State in the business management and political science areas) which makes for a lot of time on the roads (much of it white knuckle time). By the third day, the team had the rock and bag filled with rocks foundation begun, so the layout of the double dome building was already visible.

Second layer with earth mixture for foundation 
Abeer takes a rest on the sandbag roll

Women working


   Men working
The fourth and fifth day we had the proper soil on site and cement and began the process of placing the layers of the earth-bag foundation, with the barbed wire and the buttresses. Seeing such quick results was instant gratification for some really hard work. 
Djo with the tamper 

Bushara laying the barbed wire on the earth filled bags

Dr. Ahmed from the University of Khartoum visited the site on Wednesday and was pleasantly surprised by our progress. The trainees were impressed by his visit. Community leader Abdul Jalid also came by with his son.

Hooman and Dr. Ahmed - U of Khrt School of Architecture 

Mayo community leader Abdul Jalid and his son

Rehab and Leila posing

Ahmed Ali, Raania, and Rehab working hard
Mathias and Rehab working with the earth mixture the team decided 10% cement for the foundation and 7% or less for the upper structure after the testing
A nearby cistern provided a nice aerial view from the top to start a time lapse record of the domes. It also shows a nice view of the surrounding neighborhood.
Aerial view day 4

Aerial view day 5
Djo communing with the audience on the other side of the fence

Mathias refining the tampers

Abeer and Leila with cokes and per diem at end of week

Ustaz Hooman and Ahmed Ali put away equipment

One of our local suppliers

How we get our water until the pump is fixed


Friday, July 06, 2018

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

Engineer Raania, Ustaz Hooman Fazly, Dr. Ahmed, Jooren, and Mathias
In cooperation with the University of Khartoum’s Faculty of Architecture: ‘Homes for Sudan’s’ 'Superadobe' expert Hooman Fazly and experienced earth-builders from ‘For a Purpose’ Jooren Surmont and Mathias Vandewouwer, are conducting a training workshop to build a two-dome structure housing the Women’s Training Center in Mayo.

We intend for this to be a benchmark project to “train the trainers” for the greater Sudan to teach local people how to build dome structures that are eco-friendly, tree free, flood resistant, earthquake resistant, and fireproof. The project will be part of the research at the University of Khartoum’s Faculty of Architecture. We are also partnering with an instructor from the University of Khartoum School of Business and Management to provide participants with instruction in business startup and management.  The project is partially funded by USAID/TEPS (Toward Enduring Peace in Sudan) and the Stead Family Foundation.

The architects from ‘ARC Peace Sudan’ are participating in the workshop as observers and supporters in order to facilitate a village design project they are working on in North Darfur. The Deputy Dean of the Department of Architecture at the University of Khartoum is advising the Mayo project as well as Architect Adam Chalupski, who inspired the undertaking.

On the first few days of our extraordinary journey south into the sandy outskirts of Khartoum’s Mayo district we attracted considerable curiosity from the local kids.

Many of the people from the community of Mayo originally hail from Darfur or the Nuba Mountains. The ladies from the training center had some difficulty understanding the concept of learning a building method in order to teach their friends and neighbors how to provide their own houses safe from fires, floods, and conflict. 

During the week our Homes for Sudan director, our two earth-builders from 'For A Purpose' Mathias and Jooren, the greatly enthusiastic and helpful staff from USAID/TEPS, and the regional council met multiple times to help them gain understanding and to help us get a formal approval letter.
Abdul Raazig, Abdul Jalid  and Yassir from AECOM

The TEPS ladies and the ladies of Dalu

The council delivered on Thursday - the last day of the week - when Abdul Jalid, the headman of the regional council returned from a trip to Kosti and handed us their approval letter.  They asked us for a nice big printout of the potential building to put in the office in the UN Habitat compound. The University of Khartoum’s Deputy Dean of the School of Architecture kindly agreed to print one for us.

We held our collective breaths during the week while tearing down the old building – in anticipation of approval for that and building the new one.

The old building was not much to look at and the community didn’t seem to be shedding many tears at its removal. Three of the local teenage boys showed up, so Mathi and Djo – who just arrived from an earth-building project in Nepal – put them to work.  We said if they worked well, we would hire them after a week.
The old training center

By the end of day one, the gang had all of the corrugated metal removed from the building and several of the metal beams sawed and removed. We hadn’t expected to have to remove the old building, but Djo and Mathi made great use of some nice power tools that we purchased to make the process a lot smoother and faster.
On the second day when we could not build, Alia and Reem, two of the women from USAID/TEPS, Mathi, Djo, and Dr. Marie visited Afra Plastic Industries and got a nice tour of the factory.

The company donated a 500 meter roll of 60 cm polypropylene bags for the project suitable for the foundation and the buttresses, and the owner of the factory offered to help us find the 50 cm bags for the upper part of the structure.

Afraa Plastics

The tour of the factory run by some lovely Syrians was one of the highlights of the week.

Day three continued with tearing down the rest of the metal framework and clearing the cement foundation.

Djo took extra time with Osman to teach him to use an angle saw and Mathi taught all the boys to use the power drill.

By day three the building was all down except for the foundation.
Mathi teaching drilling

The guys rescued the door to use later on the dome, and the other material to construct a shed for shade and the security guard.
Aiman and Osman working on shed

Mathias and Djo with their completed shelter
While the builders were busy on site with the tear down, the USAID/TEPS team helped us with some final grant details, and the University of Khartoum helped us to estimate a BOQ for the building; the most difficult part of the proposal, since we were not sure exactly how much material the two domes would take. A few trips to the market for price check and some small purchases gave us a better estimation.

It was a week well done.

Our team leader Hooman finally arrived at the end of the week that held its unique Sudanese challenges.  There will be many hurdles yet to leap. We must first get final approval of the second part of the grant, get MOUs signed by the trainees from Mayo Women’s Association Dalu for Development, USAID/TEPS, SHPDO (Sudanese Helif for Peace and Development Organization) and NOHS (National Organization for Humanitarian Services). So far we have 16 trainees from Darfur and Nuba Mountains, with education levels ranging from grade school to university level. The trainees will be at the site daily, while the architects from ARC Peace Sudan will participate intermittently, as they all have jobs, but are working on village plans for Darfur, complete with houses, markets, schools and mosques. They would like to adapt the ‘Superadobe’ method for as many buildings as possible.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

New Projects and Workshops! 2018

Curious Kids in Darfur_Ready to Move from Camps to Home
The end of 2017 and early 2018 have been busy times rebooting HS4S after a long period of relatively little activity. We are re-instating our 501c3, which lapsed due to the inactivity, and are gearing up for several new projects, workshops, and conferences. These are providing opportunities for partnerships with other foundations and organizations including the University of Khartoum and Portland State University as well as several Sudanese NGOs that have been working for years in Darfur, Blue Nile, Abyei, and the Nuba Mountains.  HS4S participated in recent UN and NGO meetings that reiterated the urgency of building with fireproof material and materials that are not tree based. The IDPs are leaving the camps and returning to their villages – cutting down what few trees are left in certain areas, particularly Darfur, would tip the environmental disaster over the eternal edge.  

University of Khartoum Library Arches
While our previous earth-building training of more than 100+ architects, students, engineers, and builders didn’t produce much traction, due to many factors, interest has suddenly increased exponentially in earth building. It is only recently that aid organizations are starting to move from emergency relief to rebuilding and development.  Furthermore, there is a huge burst of interest in entrepreneurship training in the Sudan including the University of Khartoum’s newly launched Centre for Entrepreneurship. HS4S has a proposal partnering Portland State’s business school and school of government with the University of Khartoum to craft the curriculum for the Centre. Portland State has a highly developed Impact Entrepreneur program that we would like to share and revise with the faculty of University of Khartoum to make it Africa/Sudan appropriate. We will be soliciting funds for this soon! The strategy is for entrepreneurship training to aid the newly trained earth builders in starting businesses for themselves. Boosting the economy is a must along with HS4S’s mission to train the less fortunate to rebuild their burned houses.

ARC Peace Sudan
While we did not see a lot of innovation from the previous earth-building training, USAID informed us that there are areas where some earth building was done after our traininga few places in Blue Nile and Khartoum. Some of our trained earth builders recently formed a Sudan chapter of ARC Peace and would like another round of training. They are working with an engineer from Darfur who has done some village planning for updating and rebuilding a burned village in his area. ARC Peace and Homes for Sudan will work with him in the future to help the villagers build earth based houses (that are superadobe, thus more durable than the mud or stick houses) and other innovative buildings for schools and public buildings.

Women from a Refugee and IDP area outside Khartoum
The arrival in Khartoum of Adam, a Polish architect, who has begun working with ARC Peace and the University of Khartoum, kick started a project in one of the refugee areas outside Khartoum that USAID and Habitat for Humanity started. HS4S’s director, Ahmed from the department of architecture at the University of Khartoum, and Adam met with some of the women and village leaders in this area and proposed a new women’s training center. Three other Sudanese NGOs will send some of their folks to train while we build using superadobe (a sand based method that uses very little cement, sandbags, and barbed wire).  We formed a small working group of architects from the University of Khartoum, ARC Peace, and 4aPurpose--and have a nascent drawing of a 2-dome building started. Several earth builders from 4aPurpose, who are now working on earth bag schools in Nepal, plan to come in the summer to work with us on the building workshop.  Hooman, our architect who trained under Nadir Khalili and who conducted the 2009 workshop in Darfur for HS4S, has tentatively agreed to join us for this endeavor, and will be the resident expert.

One of Hooman's 'Superadobe' Creations

In addition to the entrepreneurship workshop and the building workshop, HS4S founder discussed planning a seminar on elections, parties, and leadership hosted by the University of Khartoum. HS4S is writing a more detailed proposal to supplement its larger grant requests for the next 3 years. These are all part of the new approach of Homes for Sudan, the E3 approach, Earth-building, Education, and Entrepreneurship.

Old Women's Center to be Replaced with a 'Superadobe Structure"
The Sudan has so many potential resources for development including very smart young students and future leaders; so now is the time to encourage Sudanese owned development and change.  The country also has an amazingly rich history and heritage that is well hidden. The overall strategy of HS4S is to put 3 more years into comprehensive training and workshops and turn the enterprises over to the Sudanese.

Rich Land on a Coptic Farm 

Architectural Riches in Meroe