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March 2010

NZers Building Houses in Ethiopia with Help of APL

APL (Architectural Profiles Ltd) have been a key sponsor for the last three years of Auckland Master Builder, Marty van der Burg, and his annual ‘house building’ projects to Ethiopia. Marty has taken a ‘Global Village’ team of volunteers to the central African country to assist in the building of traditional-style homes in rural villages under the auspices of the Habitat for Humanity organisation.

So far he has taken 79 people ranging in age from 16 to 74. Not just builders are involved. “Students, taxi drivers, farmers, businessmen, IT nerds, at-risk youth, you name it, we’ve had them,” said Auckland-based Marty, who has been a builder for 20 years.

Marty’s involvement with Ethiopia came about when Ethiopian political refugee friends who had been living in New Zealand headed back to their homeland for the first time in 10 years. Marty and his wife sponsored their return and accompanied them to get an insight into living conditions in one of the continent’s poorest countries. Arising out of what he saw was a commitment to help out in future with volunteers from New Zealand.

Marty allocates $2500 from each of his building contracts to fund a new house in Ethiopia, which is the local cost of a good quality, traditionally built dwelling.

“I was stunned to think that for such a small amount you could put a family in a home. We can easily go without $2500 and, at the end of the day, you’re putting a family, not just a person, in a home.”

The method of construction is different to the high-end houses that Marty tends to work on in Auckland. Eucalyptus is the main framing material. Layers of mud are then applied directly to the framing, first on the inside and, following a cure time, on the outside. These walls harden to a consistency of New Zealand solid plaster cladding. An iron roof then goes on top.

No building inspections or codes of compliance needed!

Marty is busy organising for the 2010 global village team, a group of 16 people, who will once again focus their building activity in the rural village of Jimma in the coffee-growing region of Ethiopia.

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