by Alyson Hazlewood
Recent months have seen long term volunteers Joey & Jeremy hard at work constructing the latest staff accommodation building using a mud brick building method. This particular building has a steel frame and roof, unlike most of our older mud brick houses which were constructed with palm leaf roofs.
Although very hot work, making the mud bricks is quite a popular working meditation among volunteers, not least because it’s a great way to learn a practical new skill set that can be taken into the outside world. And it’s fun. I experienced a distinct childlike joy in mixing up the mud and natural binding material made from husks, slopping the wet mixture into brick molds, pressing and forming it into shape with one’s bare hands. I’m sure most of us can remember the enjoyment of making mud pies as children, the sense of total immersion in the activity when time seems to take on an elastic quality. Plus, it’s fun to get really messy!
Once the mold is removed, the mud bricks are left to dry in the sun for several days before they can be used to create the structure, and the great thing about this material is that it can be cut and shaped to fit the framework. Once the walls are constructed, the mud bricks are covered in two layers of natural ‘plaster’ made from red soil, water and natural color pigment. The plaster helps to weatherproof the bricks and protect from rodents. Here you can see volunteers Jeremy and Lauren putting the finishing touch to the internal plastering.
This particular house will have a covered ‘al fresco’ kitchen area overlooking the cow field and perhaps an outdoor brick oven. Although it may not look like much now, by the time it’s finished it will be a des res to make its new inhabitant Sander proud. The following pictures are of some of the older, much loved mud brick buildings at New Life.
Once this project is completed, Joey and his hard working team of volunteers will start on the next exciting build, a new Recreation Hall for the New Lifer’s to enjoy.
Aly Hazlewood is a Writer, Beauty Editor and Make Up Artist from London, currently exploring new ways of living and being. She blogs at http://www.