Gaza Engineer Builds Bricks from Rubble and Ashes
Tom Spendlove posted on March 06, 2019 |

Majd Mashharawi lived in Gaza and witnessed thousands of homes destroyed in the 2014 war. She wanted to help the rebuilding effort but the building materials used for those homes were not readily available. She tried to use paper in place of the aggregate filler used in previous bricks, and then attempted to make blocks out of mud. Those processes did not work but while burning the mud blocks and observing the ashes she was inspired to take ashes and refuse from destroyed houses to create building bricks. In her TED Talk How I’m making bricks out of ashes and rubble in Gaza, Mashharawi discusses her methods and inspiration for her ongoing building project.

Majd and her team took rubble from the Gaza Strip and mixed it with ashes from landfills before baking the bricks and using steam for curing. The new bricks are called Green Cake and as of 2018 fifty apartments had been built, each with room for eight people. She also began to develop a solar energy company called SunBox, focused on helping people to become energy independent. It’s said that more than two million people live with three hours a day of electricity in Gaza, and the SunBox team hopes that providing 1 kiloWatt hour of energy per day will support basic needs. The system has a 100 Ampere hour battery and five charging sockets including USB, 9 Volt, and 220 Volt.

Both the Green Cake and SunBox initiatives are great examples of engineers working on local problems using their training and problem-solving skills. Mashharawi attended the Islamic University of Gaza and studied Civil Engineering, and endured bias because of her gender. She excelled in school and now employs both male and female works to help rebuild Gaza. One of my favorite parts of this talk is an idea that Majd shares, her desire to build an ‘infrastructure of hope’ and help families to control their own energy and building material needs.

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