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Classroom Building Update: June 3

The grade 5-6 classroom block is coming along! The walls are all up and it is ready for a roof.

Some of you have asked about the bricks used in construction. You can see in the background of these videos that most homes in the area are made of red bricks. Many people cannot afford properly made bricks, so they build their homes from bricks that are made from the local dirt and dried in the sun, or sometimes even make their own. These bricks have very little structural strength, and unfortunately they will quickly crumble in the African rains.

You will notice that all the buildings at VOH:Malawi look much different. That is because they are constructed using hydroform bricks. These bricks are a mixture of cement, sand and water. The contractor who partners with VOH:Malawi makes these bricks using the sand from termite mounds! They claim that termites do an excellent job of sifting the sand, and using this material makes a high quality product.

A specialized machine compresses the mixture in uniform interlocking bricks. These bricks are then stacked and placed under black tarps to “cook.” The heat of the cement curing combined with the heat of the sun is sufficient to dry these bricks. This is a very environmentally friendly process. The most common method of curing bricks in Malawi is to burn them in a kiln fired by wood, which is very hard on the already delicate forests and wood supply in Malawi.

The finished bricks can be dry-stacked, which makes construction faster. They have also been tested for strength and durability. Simply put, we are investing in infrastructure that is built to last. These buildings will benefit generations of children in Malawi for years and decades to come!

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