Posted on February 24th, 2017
As HYT begins its 11th ‘One Village at a Time’ project, it’s fair to say that the organisation has some experience working with different communities here in Uganda. The HYT family now stretches all the way to Kadungulu in Serere district, and therefore boasts an array of vibrant cultures and languages. While celebrating these unique characteristics, the Trust has developed a standard procedure for engaging with communities in order to ensure the best outcomes for inhabitants, schoolchildren and trainees. Here’s how we do it:
Upon arrival in a new neighbourhood, HYT arranges a community meeting in order to introduce the team and explain the organisation’s objective: empowering Ugandan youth to develop local infrastructure using sustainable Interlocking Stabilised Soil Block (ISSB) technology. Community members are encouraged to ask questions and to learn about HYT’s unique methods of building and training. Local participation, whether as trainees, cooks or site helpers is emphasised, as the Trust is committed to providing a hand up, not a handout.
Particularly keen applicants for the training programme make themselves known during this initial meeting, and are encouraged to attend the following interview day. The organisation aims to teach as many people about ISSB technology as possible while ensuring the highest quality training, and looks particularly for individuals capable of good teamwork and solid effort. Many applicants did not manage to finish school due to financial constraints or family commitments. HYT training represents a golden opportunity to learn a new skill and unlock a career path as ISSB masons.
Training commences shortly after interviews. Given the disparate levels of education within each group of trainees, theory is introduced alongside practical exercises. All our trainers and their assistants, such as Johnson, have passed through HYT training in their own communities, and fully understand the joys and challenges of the process.
Joys include daily servings of maize meal. This takes the form of porridge in the mornings and thicker, mashed-potato-like posho with beans at lunch time. Schools provide and prepare these dishes in return for the vital building work that trainees are carrying out. This encourages communities to take ownership of the project by contributing to the construction effort.
Challenges are equally part of the learning process; it is wonderful to see them overcome with hard work and experience. This is most evident at the end of the instruction period, when the trainees’ practical and theoretical skills are assessed. The former involves the construction of ISSB benches, which simultaneously provide teachers and pupils with places to sit around school. Theory is tested via exams which take place in the very classroom blocks that trainees have constructed. The examination process gives HYT the chance to assist those individuals who need further instruction, and to celebrate trainee graduation upon successful completion.
The result: communities are furnished with a set of distinctive, durable and high quality buildings, along with a well-trained team of ISSB masons able to maintain and expand them. Graduates are also encouraged to obtain employment beyond their hometowns, building with ISSB and spreading the technology across the country. In this way, HYT graduates earn a living as they work to alleviate Uganda’s critical housing shortage, all while helping to preserve the country’s dwindling forest through sustainable earth brick technology. You can see some of the marvellous work carried out by both trainees and graduates in our Project Pages and gallery below!
Recent HYT Buildings Gallery