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Construction Advice Brings Honor

Updated: Dec 7, 2021

By Rachel Jones, REI Field Staff, Djibouti

An open door in the village we are helping.

In October REI in Djibouti had an opportunity to bring holistic assistance to a remote village in the country. Mohammed, one of the security professionals at our school project, the International School of Djibouti (ISD), has relatives in this village, and he heard through them that a local building, an important gathering place, needed a new roof.

When his relatives made this need known to Mohammed, he and Tom, ISD director and REI country leader, talked about how we might bring professional skills of REI staff/partners and resources to aid the community. We thought a small monetary gift would be a nice gesture that would bring honor to Mohammed and an opportunity to bless his network of relationships. But we also engaged Zach, who worked for ten years in the USA as an architect, to make a much-needed professional contribution as well.

After a few hours over bumpy roads, the two men arrived in the village where they examined the building. Zach made several recommendations that significantly lowered the cost and complexity of the project, which thrilled the elders in the village! Zach and Mohammed then feasted on goat meat and rice and began the long trek back to the city. They are now making plans to return to see the results of their contribution.

This project is serving people on so many levels, each at the heart of REI work. Zach is using his professional skills, developing new relationships, and learning deep culture. Mohammed is receiving honor through connecting Zach to the elders in the village and is also receiving project training: budgeting, planning, contract development. And the village is served by saving money, constructing a well-built building, and through the ongoing relationships with Zach and Mohammed.

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