The story of Erisa and his four friends

Children are responsible for collecting water in Mabira

In 2017, HYT set out to build six rainwater harvesting tanks in one of Uganda’s last remaining primary forests, Mabira. Located between Jinja and Kampala in the south of Uganda, Mabira is home to some of the country’s poorest communities. The project, in partnership with Water Charity, installed the tanks in six schools to bring safe water to 1,045 children

Erisa and Dennis learn how to use a spirit level

During the construction, HYT recruited and trained 5 young men from the community. All childhood friends, Erisa, Ernest, Eric, Sam and Dennis received training in all aspects of construction with a special focus on Interlocking Stabilised Soil Blocks (ISSB), an innovative, climate-friendly approach to building. For the trainees, building tanks in the schools they once attended was a great way for them to give back. HYT trainers were thrilled to see the proficiency and enthusiasm of the young team.

ISSB tank construction provides a fantastic means to train masonry skills

Erisa was one of those five trainees, today he is managing a team of ten, constructing a classroom block for Congolese refugees in Western Uganda, also using the environmentally-friendly compressed earth technology. ‘The first day of training with HYT, we were excavating soil from a pit to make the ISSB’, Erisa recalls grinning, ‘my friends laughed as they walked by; what was I doing covered in mud removing soil from a hole?’.

Earnest finishing the partitioning walls on the third floor – a long way from Mabira water tanks!

Erisa and the team stuck at it with energy and enthusiasm. Following graduation they were employed by HYT on other training projects around the country. For three years the five worked on various projects, often split up from one another.

The team reunited

That all changed when Erisa felt confident that he was ready to manage a project for himself. As chance had it, his first project was a huge one. A three storey hotel in Arua, far North West Uganda. The hotel required ISSB walls on the top floor and a 400m ISSB perimeter wall. ‘I knew I could handle it, and when I was asked to pick my team, I knew who I wanted.’

The ISSB walling saved around 360 tons of CO2

The Mabira forest graduates, three years and 523km later were back! The team took it in their stride, after 5 months and 55,000 ISSB the work was done. Erisa was asked what HYT training had done for him, ‘It completely changed my life, my friends that first laughed at me are still in Mabira and I have travelled the country, I have a career. HYT is the best at ISSB and I am part of the best. It feels good to be the best.’

Erisa is now inspiring the next generation of masons to follow his path

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