A house that protects and preserves
The prevalent sicknesses sapping the energy out of Rwanda’s poor are respiratory infection, water borne parasites, poor nutrition and malaria. Add to that a lack of preventive or early medical care, and they live in an ever recurring cycle of inching upward only to become sick, miss earning opportunity or school and fall back to bare survival. Our goal was to preserve and build health through an improved home.
Our design started with the widow’s priority of a new roof to keep out frequent rains, especially on cold nights in the Rwandan highlands. From there we incorporated a water catchment system with 60 – 100 liter tank, eliminating the daily, hard climb back up from the spring or creek with dirty water. Our eco-stove virtually eliminates burns and smoke and uses 50% less wood meaning another 4-5 hrs/wk saved. A raised bed garden at the door and small, breeding animals provide one’s own food supply and the annual national health insurance ensure clinic access early in a problem.
During 6 years over 500 widows have had their houses rehabilitated. In recent years, we have added the benefit of providing groups of 10 widows a plot of land, seed and fertilizer to cultivate together for 2 shared harvests and enough earned money to lease the land themselves the next year. During 2014 & 15, we are piloting with them composting toilets with which they produce massive compost material to enrich their fields.