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Shipping Containers For Good

by Holiday Yellowpages
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Photo Credit: Derell Licht

Summit County to South Africa

Cargo of Dreams is a non-profit organisation founded in the United States by Marius van der Colff and a group of his friends. The organisation fixes up shipping containers, fills them with school supplies, and sends them to places in need around the world.

Van der Colff originally planned to fill shoeboxes with supplies for poor preschools and distribute them. However, on a trip to South Africa, he saw a school that had been made from a converted shipping container. The big idea got a little bigger, and the shipping container concept was born – not only would they send supplies, but they’d send something can could accommodate the supplies as well.

The Process

Firstly, the container is delivered to a location in the US, and placed in a visible location to encourage public participation and raise awareness. Next up comes the actual hard work – the containers are cleaned, remodelled and painted, whilst cabinets, lights and toilets are installed. The school supplies are then placed inside, including the materials needed to finish the construction once it reaches its destination.

The revamped container is then shipped to the recipient country, where a roof is added, in addition to windows, doors, a concrete base slab and landscaping. The locals are responsible for raising the funds for these additional materials and the labour required.

The organisation has to date sent containers to South Africa, Malawi, Nepal, Rwanda, Paraguay and India. Whilst the containers are intended for use as school rooms, they are also sometimes used as clinics. However, the point of the project is local community co-operation. “The container is simply a tool and it’s a common denominator that connects two worlds together,” says Van der Colff.

Housing the Homeless

Meanwhile, in Brighton, shipping containers will be used to provide shelter for the homeless. The Brighton Housing Trust has received the go ahead from the local council to install 36 shipping container homes on the site of a former metal scrap yard. The scheme follows on the heels of other successful shipping container housing sites, as constructed in Amsterdam and Bremen. Indeed, the one-bedroom containers will be constructed in the Netherlands, and then shipped over to the UK.

Shipping containers make ideal structures, since they are durable, waterproof and airtight. Furthermore, the container units will have double glazing on the windows and solar panels on the roof, which will reduce the energy bills for the tenants. The prospective tenants will not be charged more in rent than they receive in housing allowance. With around 100 homeless people sleeping nightly in the streets of Brighton, this project will go a long way to alleviating the problem.

The containers are also cheap to provide, and easy to maintain. Each one will contain a bathroom, kitchen area and living space. It is hoped that the first tenants will be able to move in come September this year.

Shipping containers are the latest and greatest innovation in home construction – they’ve been converted into emergency bunkers, designer homes, garden studios, and everything in between.

Grace Matthews is a London-based lifestyle blogger who relies on Trade Ocean Port Agents to get her belongings from coast to coast.

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