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Published: January 29th 2018
Today's blog is on the longer side and includes photos that may be at the very bottom. If you want to 'see' what is happening you might need to scroll all the way down the page and click on photos. ETI Board, Officers and Supporters: I want to congratulate you on all that has happened in Karagwe so far.
If you have been following the ETI website, the ETI Travelblog, ETI’s Facebook or Twitter, you know that we are in Karagwe, Tanzania now working on the Rural Opportunity Centers. Bruce Engel of BURO Engel Architects and I are working with the Karagwe Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in order to plan the design of centers or hubs located in rural areas as extensions or satellites of Karagwe University College (KARUCO).
——We are meeting with our Partners and colleagues which today is a team of about ten: KAD Management, a co-worker from Denmark, KARUCO Coordinator, Assistant Coordinator
and Farm Manager, four architects and a Strategic Planner. Importantly, four are women. Our day began with a visit to two potential sites for ROCs. The ELCT/KAD owns them both. One is near a main road and includes an area where surrounding communities are accustomed to having a market on Tuesdays, and the other is near KARUCO and is surrounded by several hubs of activity - housing and schools. Both sites are hard red earth with short tree brush and grass with areas that are cleared and evidence of animals. There was no exact measurement known by those in the group and needs to be done as a first step. During the tour KAD invited Bruce to help them select the best site and he agreed.
After touring the sites, our group met at KARUCO. The meeting began with a brief introduction of Bruce Engel and his work. Bruce then took the baton and ran with a presentation that was full of inspirational drawings, photos and stories regarding the Womens Opportunity Centers in Rwanda (built with funds from Women for Women). It might have been even more inspiration had the projector worked. Here you can see Bruce
presenting from his own laptop. Bruce is a good problem solver and punt he did. He shared of his work in Kayonza, Rwanda which is just across the border from Karagwe. He showed the building design based upon Rwandan forms and utilizing local materials and labor. He shared that women were taught skills that helped build the center and created businesses that earned income that included brick-making, mold-making and other start ups. Yoram Kyrusa later remarked that the opportunities began the minute the design and construction began - not when it 'opened'. The center was built on one hectare, and was a community of buildings with different functions including training, medical, agricultural and others. The structure were cost-effective to build and did not rely on traditional materials like concrete and mortar.
Bruce finished the presentation and the architects in the group - Elgoodness, Samson and Jerome began the discussion with some comments and remarks linking past work to the work in the presentation. Bishop Bagonza shared that he appreciated that durability and cost-effectiveness co-existed in this project. He remarked that costs generally rise to secure durability. The traditional brick and concrete structures generally include misshapen bricks and sometimes about
50% of the bricks are unusable. Samson remarked on the corruption in the mortar business and delivery of bad product. Bishop suggested that things had to change in regards to allowing contractors to select their own products and KAD having to stipulate which vendors would be ok to use. Bruce then responded with sharing that the bricks the women made in the Rwandan center were so uniform that they took several centimeters less mortar to hold together. Uniform bricks require less mortar.
The group discussed all the many functions in the Rwandan center and determined that we would begin by focusing on a select group of functions. The shortlist for consideration includes: Provision of pure water; space for education/training and medical services; an implement rental center; a fish farm; a farm plot; space for food processing; and a market. Needs assessment data collected previously supported these ideas. Elgoodness remarked how important it is to have a program or function based upon meeting the needs of the people in the community it serves.
Bishop remarked that the ROCs are not distractions or diversions from KARUCO but that KAD is committed to a double-track thinking with parallel operations. The group
gave its full support for the ROCs and identified the following as the next steps (with consideration for more or change).
1. Measure site: Survey.
2. Select the focus components (current and subject to change):
a. pure water;
b. space for education/training and medical services;
c. an implement rental center;
d. a fish farm;
e. a farm plot;
f. space for food processing; and
g. a market.
3. Determine the ROC Task Force/Board (by position and organization as KAD did with KARUCO)
a. Landowner (KAD) General Secretary recommended
b. Water Engineer
c. Government Official
d. Farmer (crops, livestock, fish)
4. Develop Concept Paper
5. "Low-Hanging Fruit"
a. Implement List
6. Determine roles and responsibilities, timeframes and strategies.
The meeting closed on a very optimistic note. References were made to funding and other challenges but we took a quick look back at how far we've come in just five years and committed to move forward together on this next chapter.
Signing off in Karagwe, Tanzania.
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