Excitement was the rule of the day as Nyange leaders gathered to skype with engineers in the US to learn about a possible partnership to make and bake roofing tiles. PICO Rwanda is developing collaborative relationships between the people of Nyange and engineering students at Kigali Technical Institute, as well as Engineers without Borders from the University of San Diego and Santa Clara University. The purpose of the collaboration is to develop a brick/tile press and baking oven prototypes and test them in the field.
Presently, the women and men make roofing tiles by creating mud from a mixture of clay soil and water that they stomp with their bare feet. They use a simple tool to mold the mud tiles until they are semi-dry, before placing them in the sun to dry. Later the tiles are baked in a wood-burning stove to complete the hardening process. This labor-intensive method produces a very limited number of tiles, and may negatively impact the environment by destroying numerous trees.
The majority of people living in the village of Nyange are women who are widows since the genocide. Their dream is to use the brick/tile press machine not only to roof their houses, but also to sell the bricks and tiles as a sustainable business in the future. Nyange community leaders met with Nyange’s Executive Secretary and the Head of the Cooperative Union to create a mutual vision to help people rise out of poverty. They shared the news of the collaborative relationship developing between the Kigali Institute, University of San Diego and Santa Clara University and got the local government’s support. Look for more news of Nyange’s tile press project as it continues to move forward!