Thursday, January 29, 2015

Mali Project Progress

There is just about a week before I head off to my project trip in Africa!

Our team had to send our passports to the Gabonese Embassy in DC to get visas into Gabon so we would love your prayers that they come back to us on time. Unlike Uganda who had us toss over a crisp $50 US bill, Gabon requires $200, mailing off the passport, a letter from the ministry stamped and approved by the government in Gabon, proof of a yellow fever vaccination, a two-page application, and more. It will all be worth it if we get there safely and smoothly, though!

Another part of preparation for this trip is to complete my other in-progess projects so that I can focus on these two new ministries. The community center in Mali is coming along great. In the words of the client:

"...let us say how excited we were to look at your plans. They were so much more interesting than the first ones we commissioned. When we got that early version from the local architect we said, 'Oh, this can work.' When we saw these new ones we were like, 'Wow, this is going to be great!''


"Wow, Jordan you did an amazing job at taking our comments into consideration 
and making it work. We love it!"

So we are feeling encouraged that this design might be of real benefit to the ministry in Mali! As I mentioned before, our immediate task is to create a conceptual design that can be used for fundraising, and a team from our West Africa office will further develop the drawings once the money is raised.

Here's a peek at what we've been showing them:

I was also walking around the city of Bamako, Mali on Google Maps and found some really great photos that describe the place!

I hope everyone's new year is off to a good start. I'll be updating next from Africa!!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

YWAM Aquaponics Progress

The YWAMEmerge Aquaponics Greenhouse that I have talked so much about is almost complete! Planting will begin soon!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Fall Project Overview

It is hard to believe, but this week is our Fall interns' last week! Which means…it's time to finish, print, bind, and ship all of our projects and drawings! Now that this semester is coming to an end, I've realized I still haven't written about a few of my projects, so I thought I'd give a Fall Project Overview.

    Here's where we're looking:

Throughout the Bible, we are specifically called to take care of the poor, the orphans, and the widows.

"...visit orphans and widows in their affliction..." 
-James 1:27 
"Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed." 
-Psalms 82:3
"Learn to do good; Seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow." 
-Isaiah 1:17

Most of the ministries that we work for are focused on one, or all, of these three groups. However, Gordon & Cheryl Roedding of the Christian Missionary Alliance saw a need and heard a call beyond these three types of people. When Jesus said "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," (Matthew 28:19) the Roeddings understood the importance of spreading the Gospel to all people groups, including educated college students and business professionals. To do this, they decided to teach English classes near the local university in their city of Bamako, Mali.

Before I started working on this project I hoped that I misheard them, and that they really said Bali...

Although both are sandy…I think the similarities stop there. Mali is known as the home to Timbuktu and is becoming better known to Americans now because of its 8 cases of Ebola. The architecture is a mixture of simple African, Dogon, and Sudanese styles. It is also hot. And dry.

The current building that Cheryl & Gordon use for their English program Go Global, has been outgrown. The couple is interested in designing a large community center that could be used for meetings, conferences, and classes. As the clients don't own property yet, nor have they raised the funds necessary for construction, I am focusing on a schematic design and brochure that they can use for fundraising and support. Once they are further along in the process (and our West Africa office in Senegal has been opened) EMI will make a site visit to develop the design for construction.

Hope Community Center Progress, Bamako, Mali

Since 1977, Bongolo Hospital has been serving the people of Gabon and neighboring countries. Not only does this hospital treat thousands of people per year, it also trains local African nurses and surgeons, offers AIDs clinics, and leads many patients to Christ. Over the years, EMI has designed and master-planned many buildings and additions for Bongolo. This semester I have been developing an eye clinic that will be extremely beneficial to the center. Currently, about 70% of cataract surgeries in Gabon are performed at Bongolo. With this new facility, the doctors will be able to treat and train even more people.

Bongolo Hospital
Bongolo Eye Clinic

One of the coolest things about working on this project now, is that I will be going to Bongolo in February! As their hospital campus expands, we will be offering design and planning ideas for efficient and calculated growth. I will also be able to see some of our projects under construction.

While in Africa, our team will also be making a trip to Equatorial Guinea, to begin design on a seminary. I don't have too many details on these trips, but they are bound to be two very packed weeks!

I also would like to plug the movie Mary & Martha really quickly. It provides a glimpse at the needs of healthcare (and simple mosquito nets!) in Africa, and reminds me of why I'm doing this work!


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Inside EMI

To everyone who has donated this year toward my time with EMI:
I'm sending you all a free copy of Inside EMI, our annual magazine filled with stories and photos of our ministry throughout the world. Be on the lookout!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

ACDP Conference

This past weekend was EMI's annual Association of Christian Design Professionals conference. Every year it is held in a difference city across the country, but I had the great luck of being in Colorado Springs the year it is held in Colorado Springs!

Prior to the official start of the conference, I was part of a 3-day mission hospital design symposium. This symposium aimed to develop an online resource that can be used by our staff and volunteers when  designing a hospital in the developing world. There is a large gap between the quality of hospitals in the United States and those in countries that our projects are in. It was our goal to determine an appropriate level of design that improved their current healthcare conditions, but was reasonable for the type of equipment and services they would be able to offer. We even discussed topics such as the Ebola outbreaks that will surely change the way mission hospitals are designed and operated. With input from several healthcare professionals, both from the US and Africa, we were able to make some progress towards creating standards to follow for future projects. In the coming months I will continue to work on this mission hospital resource.

On Friday, the ACDP conference began with lectures and activities for a special arm of EMI, the Disaster Response volunteers. EMI has been responding to disasters worldwide since 1981, and has a great network of volunteers who are ready to drop everything at a minute's notice to provide immediate aid to survivors of disasters. As part of this, the conference also offered emergency preparedness training. Our favorite part of this was when the interns stalked and photographed different volunteers as they walked around downtown Colorado Springs in order to point out the volunteers' levels of awareness. Not one of them were caught taking photos! I guess we should all be more aware of our surroundings…that creeps me out!

On Saturday, lectures ran from 8:30 in the morning to 3:30 in the afternoon. Participants could choose from a wide range of topics including design in the developing world, cross-cultural ministry, water sanitation and hygiene, appropriate technologies, and information for new volunteers, staff, or spouses. At night, we got to hear an amazing talk from Nabeel Jabbour, a Christian man born in Syria, raised in Lebanon, educated in Egypt, and now working with the Navigators in Colorado Springs. Nabeel gave us a glimpse at some cultural differences between the Arab world and the US. He even offered us copies of his book, The Crescent Through the Eyes of the Cross! I will be reading this soon as I am so excited to hear more about Islamic culture in the midst of so much news on ISIS and the Middle East.

Dirk & Rex discussing the design of Mission Hospitals:

I got to see all of these girls that I hadn't seen since we interned 2 years ago!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Mali Design progress

I'm having so much fun designing a community center that will be built in Mali! I had no idea what Malian architecture was like before this project, but look at this gorgeous mosque! I have a new bucket list item:

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sustainability in the Developing World

In the architecture community today, sustainability is one of the biggest buzzwords you will hear. Both designers and clients are obsessed with making buildings Green, LEED compliant, and Sustainable. So I started reading Sustainability and Scarcity: A handbook for green design and construction in developing countries. Not three paragraphs into Chapter 1 did I realize an answer to a question many have asked about EMI's designs in the developing world: Why do we give ministries such basic designs when we have the ability to design much more complex, interesting, or stunning structures? The following is what I gathered from this book and my knowledge of EMI to answer this question.

The definition of Sustainability consists of three dimensions: environmental, economic, and social. However, the architecture industry is most often concerned only with the environmental and economic aspects. Sustainable design usually focuses on money-saving energy techniques or the size of footprint on the environment. However, for EMI to go into a foreign context and try to offer a sustainable solution for these ministries, it must also address social sustainability. One definition of sustainability is "to maximize human well-being in the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs" (OECD). Addressing human well-being in the present can look like so many different things: water quality, education levels, health, security, jobs, energy availability, and endemic poverty.

We acknowledge that it is impossible for us to affect wide-reaching change on all of these areas. But, it brings up the question, how can building design and construction have a social impact?

First, EMI works for Christian non-profits who are invested in the growth and success of their community. The clients may be needing a hospital, orphanage, school, clean water project, or countless other project types that work to directly improve human well-being in the present. EMI brings expertise of how spaces can be designed to work most efficiently, while the client provides input for how their particular community functions. Together, a building is designed that will hopefully improve the people for the present and into the future.

Second, EMI is growing in numbers of local design professionals. In all of our field offices there are volunteers and employees from that country, as well as on many of the project trips. We recognize that Westerners cannot be, and are not desired to be, a "savior" for developing communities. Rather, we hope to train and encourage architects and engineers from underdeveloped countries to carry out the design principles that we know will help their communities flourish. The most sustainable way is to help people help themselves.

Lastly, it is important to keep buildings local and keep them simple.  In this way a building becomes sustainable and accountable to local people. EMI always goes to the project site to develop an initial design, in order to understand the local cultures, building histories, social values, security concerns, and so much more. It is imperative that architects understand how the buildings will be constructed and maintained so as not to provide something outside of the capabilities of the client. Although I love the Rural Studio, its use of odd materials and confusing shapes often make it hard for the client to maintain and sustain. EMI strives to use local building techniques and materials, with an increased level of design to help the clients, not experiment on them.

With all of this being said, environmental and economic sustainability are also crucial to EMI designs… but I'll save those thoughts for another day :)