A little introduction (Molly) / by Claudia Bode

Hi! Molly here - I am one person of a much larger team made up of the Kujenga team, the Olive Branch organization, Tanzanians and those who support our efforts, without whom none of this would be possible.

I grew up in East Tennessee believing I would do meaningful things. Being famous sounded cool. Being rich sounded nice. But being someone who made a difference, who made the world a better place, was really what I wanted for myself. The people I looked up to stood up for what they believed in, for what was right and they got others to believe in themselves.

I didn't know what that career was. In college I picked architecture, and fell in love with the design process. I loved how it helped me understand the world in new ways, I loved the way it enabled me to be creative, to make things, to think through problems in innovative ways and to see issues from multiple perspectives. But being an architect is not something I pictured becoming, not a traditional one, not deep down.

Yet, become an architect I became. I wasn’t sure how to combine my desire to be meaningful and my love of design until I got the opportunity to teach architecture at the Papua New Guinea University of Technology. I went to Papua New Guinea with images of myself becoming a hero to my students. Students are quick to let you know your flaws, quick to force you to look into yourself. I left knowing that I can’t solve people’s problems for them. But I can contribute by teaching them the design process, so they can look for solutions that fit their own environment. Humans are inherently creative.

I am here, in Tanzania, to do many things - build a house might be what impresses people the most, but it’s simply the means to so much more. It’s about building relationships, it’s about workshops and training. It’s about helping some to find their own joy, to develop their own skills. It’s about capacity building. It’s about learning.

This first week I’ll be doing an introduction to drawing, and teaching the Zion kids about plans, elevations and sections. What excites me about this is that anyone can design a house, you just need the tools to express your ideas. Maybe one of the kids will want to design their own home and learning to draw is a good place to start.