Making charcoal helps create sustainable future for families – and the planet

Children at Hope for Justice’s Tuddabugya Lighthouse in Uganda learnt a vital and sustainable life skill for the future when they took part in an innovative charcoal-making workshop.

The nine children learnt how to make long-lasting charcoal blocks for cooking, from cheap or free and readily available materials, as a sustainable alternative to charcoal made by felling trees. The Lighthouse team hope the skill is one that the children’s communities will benefit from for years to come, as they were all keen to pass it on to their siblings, other family members and friends when they return home.

The idea for the new workshop, which will now be provided regularly, was born from a conversation about climate change. A social worker was asked by a child about why temperatures are rising. As part of her answer, she spoke about deforestation as a cause of climate change. The children had previous experience of deforestation as for several of them, it was a common practice in their communities.

During the workshop, the children used red soil, dry banana peel ashes, cassava flour and charcoal dust to make the blocks of charcoal. The soil was sourced from the community, the banana peels were leftover from the Lighthouse, and the dust was taken from broken charcoal. Only the cassava flour, which is cheap and readily available, was bought.

As they mixed the ingredients, the children developed their fine motor skills, which can help improve handwriting. They also practised active listening and counting.