Posted on March 29th, 2017
St. Stephen’s Primary School lies on the outskirts of Kamuli Town, and was chosen as HYT’s 10th ‘One Village at a Time’ project. Until recently, younger pupils studied under mango trees, with weather and the need to fetch water constantly disrupting their education. Teachers also struggled to reach school on time due to the difficulties of their daily commute. Thanks to the generous donations of three Haileybury houses, and the hard work of HYT trainers and trainees, this is starting to change.
HYT began by constructing a new classroom block on the site of a previous attempt that was abandoned when the school’s funds ran dry. The new build contains two classrooms and a central divider which enables its conversion into an exam hall. While those in the thrall of GCSE’s and A Levels may not see it as such, the examination space is a blessing for the pupils of St. Stephen’s, who otherwise must travel 5 kilometres to the nearest assessment centre. Such journeys incur unnecessary stress and travel costs for vulnerable families and children. Once construction is complete, St. Stephen’s Butaaya will provide a state of the art examination hall for local pupils.
There is not long to go before the classroom block is ready for use. The final or “finishing” stage is one of the most important, and it is being funded by Haileybury’s Batten House. This will include the instalment of window shutters and burglar bars for shelter and security, and also the application of plaster and paint. At HYT we believe it is important to instil pride in schools and their communities. An attractive, professional structure is likely to be well-maintained and looked after for years to come. Outfitting and decorating also provide vital construction skills for trainees. Thanks to Batten, they will learn all of the techniques necessary to become professional builders.
Another key technique for HYT masons is building with specially designed curved blocks. Kipling House has provided the opportunity for such training by funding the school’s rainwater harvesting tank. Like HYT’s regular Interlocking Stabilised Soil Blocks (ISSBs), curved blocks are cured in the sun and do not require the firewood that is used for making traditional burned bricks. With their interlock minimising cement usage, they provide a durable, environmentally-friendly alternative to plastic water tanks. Kipling’s generous contribution will equip St. Stephen’s with this resource-saving device, and the trainees with the capacity to build more of these structures.
Even with a brand new water tank and classroom, a school is nothing without its staff. Long distances and difficult road conditions make it hard for teachers, most of whom cycle, to reach school on time. This is where Haileybury’s Lower School come in, with their sponsoring of a staff accommodation block. Building on the innovative designs shared with HYT by the Richard Feilden Foundation, this comfortable home is economical and tailored to the local environment. It’s veranda takes advantage of Uganda’s tropical climate to provide ample outdoor living and cooking space. As the most complex structure at St. Stephen’s, it represents one of the final challenges for trainees before their graduation as ISSB masons.
It is inspiring to see the efforts of Haileybury fundraisers combine with those of Uganda’s youth to create vital structures for schools and communities, and the impact doesn’t end there! HYT-trained masons, like Haileybury’s pupils, gain valuable knowledge to help and empower them throughout the rest of their lives. They will use their new skills to build and improve the lives of people all over Uganda, as part of a charity that prides itself on giving a hand up, not a hand out.
Finally, you may know that HYT is a finalist in the prestigious 2017 Ashden Awards. You can read more about what this means for the Trust and our work in Uganda here!
Posted on March 10th, 2017
HYT helps to put food on the tables of both Ugandan youths and schoolchildren. By training young, unemployed community members in sustainable Interlocking Stabilised Soil Block (ISSB) construction, we enable them to develop local infrastructure. Graduates of HYT’s training programme thus gain employment, building without damaging Uganda’s fragile environment, and providing important resources for communities. Among the many different structures that trainees learn to build are kitchens and rainwater harvesting tanks. These buildings are vital for meeting the basic dietary and sanitary needs of communities and their schools.
The kitchen here at Nakibungulya was built by youths during the training programme. Doing so afforded them the opportunity to learn a new construction style while providing the community with stronger, safer cooking facilities. The airy, unenclosed space enables cooks to prepare beans, posho, and maize porridge without being swamped by smoke. Children and teachers therefore go to lessons well-fed and able to participate fully in the learning process.
At Uganda Railways Primary school in Jinja, UK charity Children on the Edge commissioned a kitchen alongside the HYT-built Early Childhood Development Centre. The facilities now provide nourishment and education to economically disadvantaged children, who previously did not have access to such necessities.
Children are not the only beneficiaries of HYT’s state-of-the-art technology. Energy-saving stoves are installed in all of our kitchens in order to reduce firewood consumption. This saves money and helps to preserve Uganda’s increasingly threatened biodiversity.
Mama Jane’s Centre for Vulnerable Children also feed their staff and pupils using an HYT kitchen. Housed in one of Jinja’s historic Indian-style homes, the orphanage had to demolish its old kitchen, whose smoke was filling the enclosed courtyard. HYT’s new build dramatically reduced this issue with its large windows and ceiling ventilation pipe. The whole centre is now able to eat without worrying about clouds of dangerous smoke. According to Headmistress Agnes, “it helps us to cook much faster and it is less smoky”.
One of our most recent kitchens was constructed at the Refuge for Aids Victims and Orphans here in Mayuge. Thanks to the energy-saving stoves, the school has reduced its monthly firewood shipments from two truckloads to less than one! Water is also saved thanks to the two HYT-built rainwater harvesting tanks. This vital resource is not only used for porridge, but also for handwashing and cleaning of plates and surfaces, improving food hygiene as well as provision.
Through the construction of water tanks and kitchens, HYT helps to feed society’s most vulnerable members, without eating away at Uganda’s natural environment. The 35 water tanks scheduled for 2017 will continue to make use of ISSB technology, creating jobs for Ugandan youths, increasing access to food and water, and spreading sustainable construction methods.