Architecture Students Design New School for Children in East African Villages

More than 400 children from 19 villages in Tanzania, East Africa, will have access to clean water, sanitary facilities and an education due to help from students in the School of Architecture at The University of Texas at Austin.

Graduate students in the School of Architecture designed a complex to be located in the Simanjiro district in Tanzania, located to the east of the Serengeti National Park and to the south of Mount Kilimanjaro in East Africa. The complex will serve the parish of Father Peter Pascal Pinto.

The "green build" complex, with natural lighting and ventilation, will be constructed using local building materials and hand-built construction techniques. Included in the design are 10 classrooms, dorms for students and volunteers, an outdoor cooking facility, teacher housing, sanitation facilities and a well to provide water for the children and community, for animal herds and for crop irrigation.

The project, a collaboration between the nonprofit organization Africa's Promise Village and the School of Architecture, is under the direction of Professor Michael Garrison.

"Through Professor Garrison's leadership and the work of his talented students in the School of Architecture, this project will save hundreds of lives and educate the children of the region for years and years to come," said Donna Gunn, executive director of Africa's Promise Village.

"The children and their families in Tanzania will long remember Professor Garrison and his students as true friends of Africa. Through his work and that of others, we will improve conditions in Africa, one child at a time."

With the ability to read and write, children of the Maasai can become educated in agricultural practices that will help to improve the food supply. They will learn to negotiate a fair price for their crops, how to market their crafts, understand the importance of hygiene and how to prepare food and water that is free of harmful bacteria.

"Tens of millions of children cannot go to school as they must fetch water every day," said Gunn. "Drop out rates for adolescent girls, who even make it that far, skyrocket once they hit puberty as there are no private sanitation facilities at their schools."

The young warriors of the tribe will mix sand and grasses, which will become building blocks, dig the foundation and carry the rocks to fill the trenches. The women and older children will assist in stacking the brick and carry food and water to the workers. The entire village will be part of the project so that the culture of the people will be embedded in the school project.

The Maasai tribe of Esilale has given 40 acres for the project. Ten acres will be used for the school and the remaining 30 areas will be planted with a triple crop of maize, sunflowers and chickpeas as a means of helping the Maasai, who suffer from malnutrition. The children and residents of the village will be educated in crop production; water from the well will allow them to irrigate and increase crop yields; and revenue from the sale of excess crops will be used to sustain the school.

A reception, the First Annual Sunset Soiree, featuring design exhibits of the complex, presentations and both a live and silent auction will be held at the Oasis Restaurant at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, June 22. The African Dance and Drum Corps will provide music, and Ester and Alex Samson, Tanzanian benefactors who have devoted their lives to their community, will speak. Funds raised at the event will be used to defray the cost of the construction of the school and an orphanage.