It’s not a huge surprise I suppose considering that I am in a port town but it really does look rather odd. Houses, offices, shops…all in some shape or form an adapted shipping container!
I’m in Lobito, Benguela province. The landscape and energy zapping heat is unbelievably similar to my old Moz location in Tete except for Lobito is on the Angolan coast.
It feels an absolute world away from the other provinces I have been zipping around during my minefields visits. Winding down the hillside into Lobito town it strangely looks exactly how I would imagine Israel or Jordan to look.
Instead of usual dark red African soil brick houses, houses here are the colour of Mediterranean sand.
Dotted across the landscape, they are precariously perched on the side of the hill looking like the slightest gust of wind would send them toppling down into the sea below.
Even the local church is balanced on the edge of a cliff!
As you enter the town however life reverts from my imagined Middle East back to Africa…bustling minibus stands, street side clothes sellers, women carrying immense loads on their heads – usually with a baby strapped to their back!
We arrived at the compound yesterday after a long and dusty journey and lo-and-behold our compound is made out of….yes you’ve guessed it…shipping containers, just like the rest of the town. I was immediately convinced that without a doubt this is HALO’s most obscure compound.
We actually took the place over years ago from another charity and to be fair the shipping container concept was theirs.
The office block is 2 containers with their sides chopped out and a roof and floor between them to create 3 offices.
The kitchen is another roofed space between 2 containers, the radio room another container with the huge end doors welded shut and a window and door cut in to its side and the generator housing…yes you’ve guessed it – a container with the side chopped off!
It’s actually a very creative use of shipping containers.
And obviously being just that little bit more quirky than any other compound I have seen – I LOVE it!