May 2020

Our First Shamba

Mozambique is a multilingual country. Numerous Bantu languages are spoken along with Portuguese. Many words and expressions are borrowed between languages, we like one very much: Machamba, from the Swahili term Shamba, which means cultivated land or plot.

At WEbuiliding we have an ongoing project that involves a Machamba, it’s an ecological farm that will supply the Munti Centre of Khanimambo Foundation. They have been working there for ten years, at Xai-Xai in the province of Gaza, south of Mozambique. They focus on children and families from close-by communities, in education, health, and nutrition support. Everyday four-hundred kids eat at Munti Centre, where they already have a small Machamba, managed by a group of mothers whose children attend the centre. The mothers sell them part of the vegetables they harvest, and thus the program has fresh and healthy supplies!

In this project, together with Khanimambo Foundation we’re building a larger Machamba of 15 hectares, that’ll generate new training opportunities, employment, and social growth. We’ll oversee the architectural design and construction and will be implementing sustainable techniques and bioconstruction with materials from the region. On October 2019 we had our site visit to Mozambique and we ate loads of delicious plates, one that we enjoyed a lot was Xima, a type of porridge made with water and corn flour. Xima is eaten as a staple carb in most meals, and usually comes with a vegetable or meat stew. Other vegetables that are widely grown in Mozambique, and at Munti Centre’s Machamba, are potatoes, cassava, carrots, squash, chards, spinach, aubergines, and legumes like nhemba beans.

Even with its high agricultural potential the rate of chronic malnutrition affects 43% of children under five years of age, according to the country’s most recent Demographic Health Survey. So, to ensure a healthy diet, at Munti Centre they have weekly menus based on specific child nutritional needs. In the video below you can meet Guida, the centre’s nutrition specialist who shares their strategy to tackle chronic malnutrition with knowledge and a bit of magic soup😉.

River of Blessing Part 1: Between Koforidua and Berlin

This March, WEbuilding began building a school in the city of Koforidua, Ghana, in cooperation with the River of Blessing Academy, a local educational institution dedicated to fostering innovation and creative learning (check out our project description here). In this thread, we will be sharing experiences and impressions from our team members, colleagues and friends on the ground in Ghana, accompanying the new school as it takes shape and taking some time to zoom in on the faces behind this unique and inspiring project. So here goes!

Where did it all begin?

Koforidua is a commercial and educational hub about sixty km. north of Accra. Since 2013, the River of Blessing Academy (ROBA), has been working here to educate local children using activity-based, creative learning approaches that are in high demand in Ghana. “We believe in the potential of every learner and seek to identify our pupils’ strengths and weaknesses in order to approach their education in a holistic manner,” ROBA founder and director Abba Hughes told us in an email yesterday.

Abba, 32, grew up in Zambia and Ghana and studied business administration in Koforidua, where she is about to complete her PhD. After several years of experience in marketing and with a series of successful projects to her name, she decided to start her own school: “I realized I was not content just working for money. I wanted to pursue something that had ‘eternal value’. Something I’d created from scratch.”

That “something” was ROBA. Over the past seven years, the Academy, which consists of a nursery, kindergarten and primary school, has evolved into a unique learning location where local children can receive a low cost, quality education inspired by the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) model, which emphasizes creative innovation and critical thinking.

A voice from the field….

In 2018, ROBA contacted us with a request to help expand their school with a new building complex. After a year and a half of intense fundraising, construction finally began this March.

WEbuilding architect Florian Schlummer oversaw the first phase of the project, before he was forced to return to Berlin due to the pandemic. I asked him how things are going and how the situation is affecting the project. “The work with the contractor is surprisingly smooth, and so far, we couldn’t have hoped for more,” he said. ROBA also gets good marks. “The room where I stayed was right next to the school. The team is driven by a high motivation to make a difference for the kids, despite all the financial struggles.”

Since Florian got back from Ghana, Abba has been supervising the construction site with close support from WEbuilding via WhatsApp, email and Zoom. Despite the technical setbacks, spirits are high on all sides. “The motivation and dedication of the ROBA staff, especially Abba, is a huge inspiration,” he said.