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  • Writer's pictureSteve Whitehouse

Building a School in Rural Africa--Africompassion School for Hope


Travelling to Africa and working with my dear friend Jerald Malamba has been an amazing and eye-opening experience for me! Just a year ago, Jerald was a stranger to me. I met him through miraculous circumstances, and we have become dear friends.

I have really enjoyed and been amazed at learning about construction methods in Africa. Although they have very little equipment, they do incredible things with what they have.

We have hired a local builder named Musa (Moses) who is smart and capable. He has built a water tower, control shed, storage shed, water station, building foundation and walls for us.

I have seen the process of making “concrete” blocks out of cement, sand, water and dirt. They mix materials with shovels. And they add cement according to the use of the blocks if they are used to support the roof or are internal walls. If they are support walls, they lay the blocks flat on their sides to increase the strength of the wall. They make cement out of gravel, which is made by hand from larger rocks with hammers. I have seen old women and children working by the side of the road striking rocks to make gravel. Gravel costs three times as much as stones or sand.

They do have dump trucks for transportation. But all dump trucks are loaded by hand with shovels and buckets. They break large rocks into smaller rocks with a sledgehammer to build foundations and dig trenches which they fill with carefully placed rocks packed with cement for mortar, similar to pioneer American homes.

It is fascinating to see photos and videos of their work! This man and his crew of workers have an amazing work ethic, working long days. The workers earn about $5 a day, sometimes lasting 12 hours.

These workers don't need Gold's Gym. They build their strength the old fashioned way--Hard Work!

To pour a concrete slap, they mix the concrete by hand, and move it in wheelbarrows. Slabs are constructed similar to how we do it in the US—with a few exceptions. For one thing, under the concrete slab they do not use a gravel base—gravel is too expensive as it is made by hand! So instead, they use medium sized rocks compacted with sand to a depth of perhaps 8 to 10 inches. They then add a small layer of sand and then place a plastic barrier – five feet wide rolls though, not 12 feet wide. The do use some wire mesh to reinforce the concrete—but they place the mesh at 10-foot intervals and do not cover the entire floor area.

They are cheerful and pleasant. They recognize the miracles happening for us to be able to build a school. We as an organization our grateful for the generosity of our supporters that is enabling us to build a school that will change the lives of many orphans in this community. The entire community has been touched and is different because of these efforts. They are amazed at these blessings and have greater hope in their lives. They are so grateful for the well project we have completed and give thanks to God for these changes.

I am looking forward to visiting Tanzania and Kogaja again this coming summer and am hopeful we will be able to finish the school building before then. My friend Jerald has chosen to call it the Africompassion School for Hope.

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