OG Haiti 2012

Revisiting Ubuntu Blocks

Written by Bryan Adams, OG Alumni, Haiti 2012.

With the support from Operation Groundswell’s Alumni Project Fund, the Ubuntu Blocks Project in Port-au-Prince has established a processing facility to efficiently produce the recycled polystyrene building blocks used in housing construction.

In order to provide blocks to ongoing residential construction projects, the processing facility requires a reliable collection network and a qualified labour force. Coupled with a dedicated local and international team, the funding from the OG Project Fund has been instrumental in allowing the scope of activities to progress past the conceptual phase and into reality.


The waste polystyrene now has a defined street value which creates an income stream for the numerous independent collectors and the project has secured partnerships with established recycling organizations. With a steady stream of raw material, the processing facility is able to operate efficiently and is staffed by the longstanding local team responsible for catalyzing the proof-of-concept Ubuntu build in 2012. The local management team as well as the production workers and the independent collectors continue to work together to streamline and improve this process.

The team continues to steward the growth and development of the building technology itself; striving toward innovation and complementary technologies to ensure both the greatest positive impact and the best use of resources.


Operation Groundswell is proud to support an exceptional alumni who is truly pushing the boundaries of innovation, sustainability, and solidarity. For years now, we’ve granted more than $50,000 to innovative projects led by our alumni backpacktivists around the world. This is the groundswell our organization was named after.

We’re excited to announce that we are, once again, accepting applications for our Alumni Project Fund. If you are a former program leader or participant with a groundbreaking change-making solution, you can apply for a grant to make your ideas a reality. Learn more and download the application form here.