What can you do with dirt, water and straw?  Build a house!  This type of construction is called stick-and-mud construction and is the traditional housing method found in Ethiopian villages.

These huts have dirt floors and are amazingly cool.  Cooking is usually done outdoors.  The lifespan of a thatched roof stick-and-mud house is about 10 years.  The roof and mud walls deteriorate and because there is no cement foundation for stability, the whole structure eventually topples over in a strong wind.

Recently, a widowed mother of eight children received a new house through the generosity of the sponsor of her youngest child for kindergarten.  The new house came none too soon!  Even though it is the same basic stick-and-mud construction, there are some improvements that will give her new house a longer life.

First the skeleton is erected using eucalyptus poles. Instead of using a thatched roof, tin is used to ensure no moisture plagues the family during the rainy season.

Then the whole structure is stabilized by cementing rockwork around the perimeter of the building and pouring a cement floor.

Now the fun begins.  Chaff (straw) is brought in and cartloads of dirt are deposited next to the house.  Water is purchased and brought along in plastic jugs by donkey cart.

Straw, dirt and water … all the necessary ingredients to make mud that will then be plastered over the poles, inside and out.  The wet mud is then left to bake in the hot sun over several days to become hard.

Then shutters and a door are installed and a family has a rain-tight home with floors that don’t turn into mud.  If there are finances, some people will lay down linoleum over the cement or use woven mats for a floor covering and oftentimes they will paint the outside a bright, cheery color.

The very poor do not have the finances to repair or rebuild their mud huts.  For $1,500 NewLife Ethiopia provides the materials and labor costs for pole construction, roof installation, the cement work and supervision of volunteers doing the mudding.

If you would like to gift a house for a poor family or widow whose current house is on its last legs, we will provide you with pictures of its progress. And you will have the satisfaction of giving a gift beyond the wildest dreams of the recipient by providing someone with a solid and secure house that makes daily living just a bit easier.