Kujenga Summer 2017! (Claudia) / by Claudia Bode

We’re happy to announce that the Kujenga Collaborative is kicking off some exciting projects this summer with the help of Molly Felde, the 2017 Kujenga Fellow! Molly will be travelling to Tanzania at the beginning of June and will have the opportunity to work closely with the Olive Branch for Children until the end of August.

As you probably know, the region of Tanzania in which the Olive Branch works is characterized by small and remote villages, with most residents engaging in subsistence/rice farming, pastoralism, or a combination of both. There are many different tribes in this area and many languages, with Swahili acting as lingua franca. The Olive Branch has run successful programs in this region for more than decade, focusing on increasing access to lifesaving medical care; increasing access to education, especially early childhood education; creating community banks to reduce access to local loan sharks; expanding access to reading material; reducing the social stigma of diseases such as AIDS in order to improve treatment rates; and generally working together with communities to find out what they themselves need to prosper. It’s a respectful and bottom-up approach that has worked phenomenally.

But the Olive Branch is more than a grassroots development organization – it is also a home for around 60 children who, for various reasons, could not be cared for adequately at home. These kids live in the Peace Home and the Zion Home permanently, forming a part of two large, noisy, happy families. In each of these homes, they receive education, a safe place to sleep, and most importantly love. Because both the Peace Home and Zion Home are rented properties, the Olive Branch has been looking to construct its own buildings in order to save the money they are spending every month on rent.

After spending a few years focusing on developing a large site on which to centralize its activities, the Olive Branch has switched tactics in order to streamline the construction of these structures. Rather than create one large masterplan in a remote area, the Peace Home and the Zion Home will be built separately, near where they are currently located in order to allow its residents to continue having access to the same schools and other infrastructure.

This summer, we are happy to announce that Molly will be spending a large part of her time working with Putiyei and local workers to construct the Peace Home, which has been designed over the course of the past several months by the Kujenga Collaborative.

But it’s not just about making a building. She’ll also be researching local materials and vernacular building strategies, testing different approaches to building, and educating local workers along the way. The entire Kujenga Collaborative will be engaged in this effort to provide her the support she needs.

Molly will also be running a series of design-focused workshops, one with the kids who live in the Zion Home to introduce them to concepts of architecture. She will also be leading a series of workshops in remote villages to understand how communities might benefit from public-space design and construction projects, and how those might fit into the Olive Branch’s programming.

All of this will be documented here, as well as on Facebook and Instagram. Follow us!

Instagram: kujengacollaborative

Facebook: kujengacollaborative