My Blog

To Build a Village (2)

Things are moving along well with the children’s “Build a Village” project. Sukhailah and Hudhaifah, being the oldest, have put the most into their efforts. Hudhaifah has been reading up on alternative energy sources and various methods of water catchment and storage, as well as designing his own earthship house. Sukhailah has been studying earthbag architecture and, after reading Gaia’s Garden, a home permaculture manual, has begun to plan out her planting zones and what will go in them.

A green field here in Yemen

Juwairiyah, my thirteen year old daughter, is the least excited about the whole project. She has begun planning her own house, but turns up her nose about some of her siblings’ “green” ideas, such as compost toilets. “If you’re going to have those,” she says, “I’ll make my own sewage treatment plant and hook my toilets up to it!” She says that permaculture is “too complicated”- but I am hoping to wear her down on that one, as I explain how at its simplest it is observing patterns in nature and mimicking them in our own growing systems.

Nusaybah, my little cat girl, has gotten excited about animals. She has been reading up on chickens and has chosen which breeds she thinks will do best in the village’s environment (they decided to locate it a few miles away from Boulder, CO). Being ten, of course, she is also influenced by how cute the chickens are, but that could be considered important in its own way as well. As for other animals in the village, she wants goats, horses, and, of course, a cat in every house.

Inspiration for my mud brick builders!

Mu’aadh and Maryam do what they like to do best- they draw. They have designed their houses already, and are beginning to plan their gardens. They decorate pages in the project book and offer to color in what other people have already done. They have also figured out a way to make a little money off of their older siblings- the last few days they have been out in the yard making mud bricks of a couple of different sizes for the children’s model houses. At 200 riyaals for a hundred bricks, they have a lot of motivation to keep on working!


So far the project is advancing nicely. I find the most difficult part is to leave them to do the thinking and planning for themselves, yet be here to guide them and offer advice when they need it. In fact, I just may have to start planning my own house and gardens in their village- just to help them out of course, not because I think it would be a lot of fun. Well, okay, just because I think it would be a lot of fun, but also because so many people study different things and can talk about them for hours, but have never actually acted upon what they have learned. Just like with what I learn about Islaam, I want to implement what I am learning about living in a conscientious, healthy, sustainable way.

Click here to read the first installment in this series.

For some photos of the project, click here.

As always, I welcome any comments and suggestions. I will pass them directly on to the village architects themselves!

Post a comment


Pingback: To Build a Village Photos | Yemeni Journey