The Three Little Pigs
"The third little pig worked hard all day and built his house with bricks. It was a sturdy house complete with a fine fireplace and chimney. It looked like it could withstand the strongest winds." -- Three Little Pigs
Almost everyone in North America knows the story of the Three Littles Pigs, where there are three homes built of three different materials — straw, sticks, and bricks — and the relative degree to which these houses could withstand the fearsome Big Bad Wolf. While the straw house and the stick house were blown away when the big bad wolf huffed and puffed, the brick house — built by the wise pig — remained despite the fiercest storms.
This story came to mind when Redemption Song Foundation (RSF) Director Wendee told me of the new "Sticks to Bricks" campaign: raising funds to build the Kalehe village Batwa families new brick houses. These new brick homes are better than the native "straw" huts they used to build as temporary dwellings in the forest and better still than the mud and stick homes they live in currently.
This story, and the campaign, reminded me of an experience I had during the five weeks my husband, two daughters, and I spent in this region of Uganda in 2016 when we volunteered for Redemption Song Foundation and other organizations. We had used funds that my husband’s colleagues donated to help construct a mud hut for a Batwa family — not in Kalehe but elsewhere, in a project coordinated by another organization. Our daughters later told me that was the volunteer experience they enjoyed most because they felt useful and there was a tangible outcome.
In contrast, I found the experience a bit distressing, primarily because I dislike mud but also because the stick-and-mud houses seemed such an inadequate shelter. While the "stick" homes are surprisingly durable and a big improvement on the previous "straw huts" they were living in, it is not an ideal situation in a region with frequent torrential rain — and mud and dirt everywhere. The stick homes require regular re-mudding and are difficult to keep clean inside.
The Batwa and Redemption Song Foundation have a bigger dream — brick houses. These houses will cost $1500 each, but they will have a longer life than the mud huts, be much easier to clean and keep clean inside, and will require less maintenance, thereby freeing up time for agriculture. Moreover, a partnership with an organization that produces safe cooking stoves will supply an ecostove for each house and, each family will also receive a goat.