The One Heart Source Children’s Home is sustained by the land upon which it is built. Situated in a semi-rural village without developed infrastructure, the site was designed with a high degree of self-sufficiency in mind in order to be able to exist and thrive independently despite unreliable sources of basic, functional necessities like water and electricity. In line with the vision of One Heart Source, the Home is continuously evolving to provide the highest possible quality of life for its children.
Water and Food
One Heart Source has engineered water collection and conservation systems to cope with periods of shortage, and to minimize drain on the village’s water supply. There are currently two 20,000L+ rain water collection tanks on the Site.
The first, completed in 2009, is fed by a series of trenches diverting rain and flood waters into an underground reservoir and is used to sustain organic farming projects on site, primarily, an organic vegetable garden. The garden produces a variety of vegetables including onions, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, spinach, lettuce, among others.
The second, completed in 2011, utilizes the home’s roof to collect and channel rain water into another underground reservoir and serves as a reserve for the home in addition to supporting organic farming projects.
About 50% of the site’s total area is cultivated annually or bi-annually (rain conditions permitting) for long-term staple crop production such as beans, corn, and lentils. Once harvested, the yield supplements home food reserves and is consumed until the next successful harvest. Additionally, the resulting biomass left after harvest is used as high-quality animal feed for chickens and especially cattle.Well-fed animals contribute further to the site’s food sustainability. Twice a day cattle provide nutritious milk, and chickens provide a regular supply of eggs. Their waste will in turn be used to replenish the soil from which their food was grown.There are over two hundred banana plants and live fruit trees including mango, avocado, papaya, orange, and lime on the site. Their growth is supplemented by compost and collected water from site.
Greywater, or wastewater from bathing, washing dishes, and laundry, is collected in a separate tank and discharged immediately to enrich topsoil throughout the site. Because of the wide application of this recycled water, we go to great lengths to limit the use of non-biodegradable soaps and phosphate-rich cleaning products within the home.
Food waste is collected daily and fed to the site’s pigs. Later, as pig manure, it is mixed with other farmyard manure from chickens and cattle to be used as fertilizer.
Our staff housing consists of nine huts constructed in traditional Maasai manner, using a mixture of mud and cow manure packed around a wooden frame. The roofing is made of makuti, a thatching made from dried palm fronds. Choosing this natural construction option allowed us to use locally available and abundant materials, creating minimal environmental impact.
OHS seeks to undertake significant construction projects in the coming years, but will only do so using earthbricks compressed using a Hydraform machine. This innovative Hydraform machine compresses a 90% soil-10% cement mixture into earthbricks that are “dry-stacking”, meaning they do not require mortar to interlock. As you can imagine, this is one of the most sustainable building options currently available in the world due to: reduction in materials consumed, reduction in transport of materials, reduced overall building costs, and greatly increased construction efficiency. .See www.hydraform.com for more info on this amazing new technology. We are actively seeking donors to help us purchase this expensive but revolutionary machine. If you would like to help, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The indoor lighting for the Children’s Home is currently powered entirely by solar panels. As certain electrical needs of the home exceed the capacity of solar alone, we are also tied into the local power grid. However, due the unreliability and unsustainability of the local power grid, we are currently in the early phases of developing a wind power system for our site to offset and possibliy even eliminate our electricity consumption.
As we move forward, we will continue to make the OHS Children’s Home more resource-independent, helping it to grow into a model of sustainability, responsibility, and direction for tomorrow’s generation.