Archive for the ‘Brickmaking’ Category

Bricklaying Begins

October 16, 2011

Congratulations to everyone involved with Project OKURASE on coming to the phase of bricklaying for the vocational school that is part of the Nkabom Centre for Skills Training and Formal Education.  People from Okurase village learned to make the compressed earth bricks in a training program in the village. They then made the bricks that are being used to build the vocational school. The bricklaying is going well and rapidly bringing the first floor of the building together. We offer our strongest thanks to Mother Earth for providing the raw materials.

This is what creating change is all about – taking charge of your life’s direction, setting goals for what you know will work to bring change and save lives, creating partnerships for resources, and doing whatever it takes to realize those goals. Sometimes this process can be intense and long and takes great patience. Project OKURASE has been a great teacher of patience for us all.

 There is an African saying, “If you want to go fast go alone; If you want to go far go together”.  Together we can make it happen. Never give up hope.

Congratulations to the people of Okurase  – keep up the good work!

Bricklaying Begins


Bricklaying Continues


Bricklaying Takes Off!



October 21, 2010

Just spoke with Mohammed, our port agent. The brick making machines are NOW IN OKURASE!!!!  There were a few challenges from port to village as they would not fit in the truck that arrived to take them. However, it was worked out. Word is that everything was intact, all parts in place. Now a next exciting phase begins. Many thanks to Sean Ahern,  Chris, Mohammed, Alhaji, Powerful, Nana, Holy Cross Church, Eve, Stuart Knight, Jamie Meyer, Rich Lee and the brick makers for making it all happen.

The Ahern Model

August 14, 2010

On Monday August 9th Chris Moore and I met up at Sean Ahern’s Anvil Shop. The Brickmaking machines were finished and we needed a lesson in how they work. Given that Sean Ahern is the inventor/developer of this machine we have determined that it should forever be known as the Ahern Model. The other Sean who works in the shop was present to give us a demo. I, not being handy with the video camera but willing to give it a go, made a video of the demo . Our great hope is that we get a sail date very very soon so that the machines arrive while Chris is in Ghana so that he can demo in person. As a plan B, we have the video for the brick makers in Okurase to view, hoping that they will forgive shots of the sky, ground and someone’s shirt :). At the end of the day,  Chris and Sean put the machines together and they worked well. I was amazed as I had seen the old brick making machine work. The improvement in efficiency is incredible. Project OKURASE offers up our greatest thanks and love to Sean Ahern who designed and developed and worked on the machines,  the Clemson students who worked on the machines, Holy Cross Church of Sullivan’s Island who funded the materials for the machines and the various people at MUSC who are funding the shipping. Let’s get this journey moving towards Africa!

Architecture Student to Move to Okurase Needs Our Help

May 30, 2010

Hello to all friends of Project OKURASE. Thank you for being on this journey with us. Am reaching out to everyone to help solve a request. Clemson University Architecture Center has been so great to Project OKURASE and donated a year of their time so far to have 2 students travel to Ghana and then come back and complete the architectural design for the Centre in Ghana- no small task. As a result of their generosity we now have a design for the Centre in Ghana and have gone on to attain our building permit and are ready to build. Every day we are working to bring in money to start the building.

Clemson Architecture Center has nearly completed constructed of 4 brick making machines that we can send to Okurase to get the brick makers going again on the bricks. You may or may not know that the brick making machine we were using was taken from us and the brick makers have not been able to do their work or make a living for some months now. So I am writing to ask each of you to think through your connections in life and help solve 2 issues:

1. We must get the brick making machines from Charleston, South Carolina to Ghana. By air cargo to Accra would be the quickest way but by sea to Tema would be great as well. The machines will be ready by August 1st. How can we get the machines there? I submitted an application to Delta Corporate Giving to fly them there and was turned down. I asked our Congressman for help and there was no interest. Please e-mail me with any ideas you have regarding how we can make this happen.

2. A Clemson architecture student and his wife (Chris and Evan) met with me yesterday. They intend to move to Okurase in August and give 6 weeks of their life to get the building of the first building started. We are overjoyed and honored that they would give such a huge gift of their life and time and skills to the people of Okurase. Given that they have just finished school, they cannot get themselves to Ghana. So, am reaching out to ask who can help us get 2 plane tickets from Charleston to Ghana-probably connect in Atlanta as they are starting a nonstop flight from Atlanta to Accra on June 4th. The tickets would be roughly from August 18th through September 29th. They also need help on the cost of vaccines – yellow fever, typhoid, all the Heps and antimalaria meds and on living expenses.

Please email me at if you have solid ideas on how to make either of these happen or if you would like to support any of these yourself.

Thank you for any ideas you have, resources you can point us towards or for putting Project OKURASE in your daily meditation.

In Gratitude,

Results of Clemson Brick Research Are In

October 18, 2009

Today was a meeting I never imagined in my life I would have. Denis Brosnan, who is a national expert in brick research with Clemson University met with me and Fred Taylor to give us the results of the research on the compressed earth bricks we are making in Okurase.

From my last trip to Ghana I brought back several bricks and all the materials to make a couple of bricks. Denis and his team conducted research on all materials and completed bricks to help us determine if we are going in the right direction, to understand the strength of the bricks and make recommendations for improvement. He reassured us that we have a fine product in our bricks and that one brick would support 30,000 pounds! WOW!

He gave us suggestions on improving the bricks once we start to take them beyond Okurase. He also gave recommendations for safety as inhaling fine particles of dirt can affect breathing safety.

We are extremely grateful to Denis and his team for helping us to this extent. This research will greatly impact our way forward. It is a fantastic gift to the people of Ghana. Medaase Denis!

20,000 Bricks = One Building

March 23, 2009

It’s no joke. The power of bricks has come to the forefront of just another one of Project OKURASE’s sustainable initiatives. In August of 2008, the village of Okurase began benefiting from the Alero Olympio Trust’s loaned brick-making machine. The machine was made in India and makes environmentally friendly, compressed earth bricks that do not require firing. They are made from laterite, the red soil of Africa.

Women brickmakers wearing their Charm and Hammer hard hats

Women brickmakers wearing their Charm and Hammer hard hats.

Through job training and the empowerment subsequently instilled in each of the brickmakers, Project OKURASE has its first 20,000 bricks, earmarked for the Job Training Building at the Centre. But more than just bricks, Project OKURASE has found a way to feed a brickmaker and his or her family, a way to create a sustainable solution to the need for occupational development amongst the people of Okurase, and a way to connect us all to that beautiful endeavor.


You can join in the excitement and support our proud brickmakers by purchasing an environmentally friendly brick for $20 US or 10 Great Britain Pounds. Just visit our Web site,, and click on the donate button to make your tax-deductible contribution.

Charm and Hammer

December 1, 2008

A women’s construction gear company named Charm and Hammer has donated 10 pink hard hats, protective gear and work gloves for the women brickmakers of Okurase. We thank Terri Piasecki for her company’s spirit of helping women around the world. The women brickmakers will be given the protective gear at their graduation on January 2 as they complete training and move into professional jobs!

Holy Cross Church of Sullivan’s Island Supports Brickmaking

December 1, 2008

Our faithful partners of Holy Cross Church on Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina have made a donation to Project OKURASE to help with our brickmaking efforts. We are grateful to them for helping move forward the building of the Centre.