Posted on May 25th, 2018
A Tour with the Trainees in Mabira Forest – by Callum McCabe
During the last five months, much of my time has been spent working under the canopies of Mabira forest. This project has seen the construction of seven 10,000 litre water tanks in Najjembe Subcounty, and the graduation of 5 trainees. Mabira has been a special project for HYT, as we have built our structures surrounded by what we attempt to preserve, the beautiful, luscious rainforest. Brick kilns line the Jinja-Kamapala highway, and are fed by countless trees uprooted from Uganda’s forests in the quest to build quickly and cheaply.
So for HYT, Mabira has been an important project. Through the work of our trainees, we have been able to work with pockets of the Najjembe community, and to show them an alternative to destructive fired bricks, as we strive to change attitudes and promote innovation.
The photo above shows my first exposure to Interlocking Stabilised Soil Block (ISSB) technology, and my first day in Uganda. After driving through the canopies of Mabira forest, we arrived at Najjembe C/U primary school. This was where my adventure with HYT started. For the group of 5 trainees and trainer Musa, this was their third tank. After a short introduction from trainer Musa, who explained the basics of constructing a water tank, I met Erisa for the first time. As one of the first trainees on this project, he took me through how to lay an ISSB, and showed me the ropes before I was let loose, laying several under his watchful eye. 5 months and 5 tanks later, Erisa and I have laid many more blocks together.
Mabira has been a special project both for HYT and myself, thanks to the fantastic teamwork of Erisa, Eric, Denis, Arnest and Kayiira. Over the last five months I have worked with them, eaten with them, and certainly laughed with them! Many of the memories that I will take home from my time in Uganda will involve these trainees. Throughout my time here, I have watched them grow as individuals in a journey that was facilitated by HYT. They have gone from youths with little to no experience in construction, to fully fledged sustainable warriors, armed with knowledge and practical skills in ISSB construction!
Our trainees are the most important part of the work that we do in Uganda; they are the workforce on the ground and, more importantly, ambassadors of HYT and our technology. While it is easy to look at a picture of a water tank and imagine the benefits to the local community and the school children, it is more difficult to see the impact that HYT has on the trainees.
Through our training programmes, HYT is able to empower Ugandan youths, giving them a practical skill and a qualification they can add to their resumes. I owe a lot to Erisa, Eric, Kayiira, Denis and Arnest, as they have become a very special part of my time in Uganda, but I have HYT to thank for our introduction, and for giving us the opportunity to learn sustainable construction skills together!