Before I joined African Revival, I was Project Officer for School Construction at Norwegian Refugee Council. Before that, I worked for World Vision, Action Against Hunger, and did some private work with private construction companies. I also worked with the church building community access roads. Back then, people lived in Internally Displaced People’s Camps, so food was difficult, and the church was offering ‘food for work’ programmes for residents of the camps.
I became interested in construction around the time of my A Levels. I studied Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics. I didn’t go to a very good school but I thought these subjects could lead me to Engineering, or something like that. Even at O Levels, I used to enjoy technical drawing so much. When you see the design of a house, you get interested in becoming one of those people who can see that drawing put into action.
After my A Levels, I was offered the opportunity to study a Diploma in Building and Civil Engineering at Uganda Technical College in Lira. Upon completion I came back to Gulu, worked and gained some experience, and I applied for a Bachelor’s degree in Building Economics (Quantity Surveying) at Kyambogo University, because I thought it was relevant to know the cost of the project before you go for it.
My Diploma was vast; you cover roads, buildings, civil works. In my first industrial training I was interested in road works so I worked with a construction firm doing some rehabilitation of urban roads for three months just doing roads, roads, roads. The following year I decided to try out construction of buildings. Buildings are not that complicated structures but it is interesting to see small and big houses raised from design to finish.
The first time you transfer the design from paper to the ground, you have your fears. But when you see it come to pass, you really appreciate it. It might take you a long time to complete a stretch of road, but a building can take say three months to one year, depending on the complexity of the construction. So you can see it through from design to completion.
My role at African Revival involves design, and if there are new structures, costing the project or estimating the cost. Then I do the process of tendering, acquiring the contractors, taking them through the sites, supervising the works, checking quality, processing and following up the payment process, and liaising with stakeholders like the District Government.
At most Government schools you work with existing designs approved by the Ministry of Education. At community schools, you can come up with your own design, present it to management, present it to the District Government, and when you come out successfully at the end, you feel good about it. I enjoy the design side of my job the most, and I prefer working with community schools because you have the liberty to do some innovations or something different. The District Government might then look at your designs and appreciate what you have done differently.
I would love to further my education at Master’s level or postgraduate diploma. I would study a Master’s in Construction Management, something like that, because that’s what I see myself getting into – managing construction projects. At the moment, African Revival still has small projects, but in a situation where we had multiple construction projects, skills in construction management would help me do my job better.