House building is physically and mentally challenging and often not associated with the fairer sex particularly in our Asian society. But not to Jen Gobby and her all-girls group Mudgirls of Lasqueti island off the coast of east coast of Vancouver Island, Canada.
“It grew from a need inside me for a community of women, for new skills and to be independent, a space in which to become strong, able and together with other women,” she wrote on the Mudgirls blog.
“I wanted to build, I wanted to hunt, to chop fire wood. I want to feel strong and capable and free,” she said.
Jen Gobby admits even on Lasqueti a community the men still do all the hard works – built and took care of the electric systems and the fire wood, and women raised the kids and grew the food.
But for her it was too traditional gender ‘role-ish’. She wanted to believe that living close to the land like our ancestors does not mean women returning to the kitchen.
Furthermore, she has proven that house building is not as difficult as it seems. Jen Gobby was not even a builder before moving to Lasqueti.
Her only was experienced attending a 4 month natural building course for women in Winnipeg where they were thought how to build house made of natural materials – mix of mud, sand clay, stones, woods and straws.
Jen Gobby and the Mudgirls Natural Building Collective have been building homes and studios on the gulf islands and remote areas of Vancouver Island for the past three years.
They have been exploring the world of natural building and have been travelling all over western British Columbia to work on some very unique properties.
Some of the properties they have travelled to and to build on include farms, quirky restaurants, people living off the grid, retreat centres and b&bs.
Some of these clients have been building small cabins in order to rent out and gain income from their property.
“There is definitely room for natural building to find a place in the urban environment as well with eco- renovations being the newest techniques the mudgirls are exploring,” she said.
What Jen and the girls doing in Canada is something we in Sarawak should emulate. If these girls proof it can be done nothing suggest it would be otherwise here in Sarawak.
It’s time for us to truly re-look our commitment in helping the country moving toward a greener future.