If you were a nonprofit employee with a home termite infestation, what would your bosses do for you? If your bosses were Roots of Health, they would help build you a new mud house!
The mud house was first conceptualized by Marcus Swanepoel, a former South African educator who relocated to Palawan with his wife Ami. The couple cofounded Roots of Health to support the Filipino community with reproductive and nutritional health services. When two of Ami and Marcus’s married employees, Rhealyn Paliza and Leonar Novela, described the termites driving them from their old house, Marcus daydreamed about the rondavels of his home country; cozy, round houses traditionally constructed with mud and cow dung. “When you look at nature,” Marcus says, “objects that withstand weather best are rounded.” He turned to Ami’s brother, architect Alex Evangelista, who drew up the final blueprint: a round frame of local, pliable bamboo, wrapped with mud, and topped with cogon grass. Rhealyn and Leonar happily signed off on the design, and in April 2011, Leonar, Marcus, and a team of subcontracted neighbors got to work.