Healing Place: Creative Problem-Solving Gives Rwandan Women A New Life

Heidi Hjerpe

Executive Summary:

For a group of women in Rwanda, brickmaking is more than just an industrial skill. It is a way to help build a much-needed community center. This article examines how Women for Women International (Washington, DC, USA) partnered with Sharon Davis Design (New York, NY, USA) to build the Women's Opportunity Center (WOC) in eastern Rwanda. It describes the plans for the one-hectare (2.5 acre) campus, which included classrooms, workshops, a marketplace, a demonstration farm, food storage, administrative buildings and staff lodging. It then describes the brickmaking program and overviews "slop-molding." It details the challenges involved in the project, including solving material problems and determining cost. The article then reports on how the project team was assembled and examines the communication barrier with the 100-person team. It discusses how a chain-style communication strategy was used, which went all the way up to the sponsor. The center is slated to open 8 March 2013 on International Women's Day. Accompanying the article is a project timeline and a schematic depicting the brickmaking life cycle. A sidebar on dealing with third-party surveyors throughout the project accompanies the article as well.

For a group of women in Rwanda, brickmaking is more than just an industrial skill.

It’s a way to help build a much-…

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