Hallelujah! The Community Hall in Minembwe in East Congo is now essentially complete and useable.
One year ago - May 2021 - saw groundbreaking and the first work on the building underway, thanks to a grant from the Bel Pres Legacy Foundation. Over the months, other donations helped finish the building. Materials and labor have been locally sourced. There are some minor items yet to be finalized, like landscaping, but this does not prevent the building from being used for meetings, reconciliation, and community events. Importantly, the building can be secured now as the doors and barred windows have been installed.
We’ve learned a lot in our first year while building the New Hope Reconciliation Center (NHRC) in Minembwe and thought you would enjoy these interesting tidbits.
- Bricks are made on the construction site from available soils. Laborers made 200,000 bricks to construct the Main Hall and Sanitary and the bricks were ‘burned’ in two kilns that were built on-site.
- Stones needed to construct the foundations were dug and moved about 2 kilometers (1.24 miles) by hand. Locals stepped in to carry the stones on their heads and backs because of a lack of vehicles or suitable roads.
- There are 94 local laborers – in addition to craftsmen – who have been hired to work on the project. By employing local labor, we are helping to provide much needed cash employment to the communities.
- It is customary after hard labor to provide soft drinks to the staff. One of the most popular brands in our area and in nearby Rwanda is Fanta – in fact, soft drinks are universally known there as Fanta.
- The African hoe is the ubiquitous tool used universally to dig – both for agriculture and construction. Look for people using hoes in our pictures.
- The construction season is year-round in our area of Minembwe but the transportation season is limited to June to September. During the other months roads are impassable due to significant rains.
- There are sufficient people and resources available in our area to complete all projected construction in a single season if we receive adequate funding.
We are finishing the building of a community hall to provide a common space for gathering, worshipping, and learning. The center is being built on land donated by the Minembwe community leaders in anticipation of having a common gathering place. The building will be complete by 2022.