The need for a community building was identified as a top priority by the community in Lefiso, South Africa during a needs assessment conducted by Britt Molde, the Peace Corps Volunteer working at Lefiso Child Care Support. The needs assessment included key informant interviews, community action workshops, household surveys and a review of existing population data such as the Integrated Development Plan (IDP). It sought to include input from different sectors and diverse populations (e.g. learners/out of school youth/elderly, men/women, etc.).
Lefiso Child Care Support, a drop in center for orphans and vulnerable children, has offered its land as a space to build the center. This space is centrally located among the 3 villages, is easily accessible from the tar road, and is already fenced for security. The organization would then be housed within the facility and would include a kitchen and play area.
In the fall of 2014, Open Architecture DC assembled a team of volunteers to help the Steering committee develop their program and ultimately create schematic drawings to represent the intentions of the project. Over the course of several months, our volunteers and Britt Molde coordinated with the steering committee to determine the project needs and to develop a plan of action for acquiring private and government stakeholders to help fund the project. In order to better understand the community and help the Steering committee and village leaders understand the scope of the project, 3 of the volunteers (Kyle Schulte, Julia Siple, and Jonathan Tolbert) traveled to Lefiso, South Africa to conduct a design workshop.
While there, the design team toured several sites and projects that held similar functions or business models to that of the proposed project. The team also helped the Steering Committee and primary stakeholders identify opportunities to reach out to the local and regional municipalities for funding and guidance on how to govern the project. The workshop helped the design team clearly identify the needs of the community and distill the project to its necessary functions. SInce the workshop, the team has begun developing schematic design solutions as part of a larger packet the Steering committee will use to move the project to the next phase of development.