As part of our global mission trip program, Shook Construction sent eight employees to Mozambique, East Africa, in April 2022 to build new, on-campus teacher dormitories for a remote school. Though simple in nature, the project had an immense and immediate impact on the community of Mucombeze and was recently named a Global Best Projects Award Winner by Engineering News-Record (ENR). In January 2023, we will release a documentary about the trip in the hope of inspiring others to support the communities most in need.

Shook began offering mission trips in 2019 to further our Mission, To Dramatically Improve the Communities We Serve. These mission trips send a group of employees to a part of the globe where people truly lack the basic infrastructure that we can help provide – clean water, healthcare, education, and communication. Not only do they assist a struggling community, but they also instill a global perspective in our employees.

“The Shook team was immeasurably changed in Mozambique, all because we answered a call to serve and are fortunate enough to work for a company that values and promotes such an extreme level of service. Before we left, we didn’t know exactly what we were going to encounter. Once we were on the ground in Mucombeze, it didn’t take long for us to realize this trip was more than a simple, third-world construction project. It was all about the people of Mozambique – our humble attempt to serve them and their massive impact on us. It is impossible to describe the infectious joy of the people we had the privilege to meet. They have so little in material goods, but they live with tremendous faith and strength in community. They are so happy, and that is so powerful. We came home with an appreciation of this joy and a realization that service to others is the pathway to catch some of it.” – Dan Wolking, Vice President of Midwest Water, Shook Construction

Shook partnered with SAM Ministries, which operates a mission in Mucombeze and the Mucombeze-Interior Primary School, serving over 600 children from age four to upper teens from a large geographic area. Due to the school’s remote location, they also run a feeding program and a remedial language program because the children beginning school start learning in their mother tongue and then need to transition to learn in Portuguese, the trade language of Mozambique.

Shook and SAM Ministries crew

SAM Ministries was in desperate need of more lodging as teachers typically stay on-site throughout the week since the school is remote. The teachers had been staying in “temporary housing” that consisted of a mat in the school clinic or storage rooms. Shook associates and a crew from SAM worked hand-in-hand to build two new on-campus dormitories. With no design plans, language barriers, sweltering heat, unfamiliar techniques, lack of building materials, and limited time, the two crews came together and finished more than they set out to accomplish. Starting as two separate crews from different areas of the world, they shared their talents and trades with one another, quickly became partners, and were one crew by the end of the project.

“Our Mozambican team of builders and staff worked alongside [the Shook] team; even with the linguistic, cultural, economic, social and educational distance between these people, this wildly divergent group of good people came together to form a cohesive and extremely efficient team that simply got the job done! Our Mozambique team still marvels at how much work got done and how well these foreigners connected with them and made them feel like colleagues. Not only did this amazing group of Shook employees make a difference, but they also left a lasting impact on the lives of our people!” – Dwight Lagore, SAM Ministries Field Team Leader

The project had an immense impact on the Mucombeze community. With widespread illiteracy, the opportunity to add teachers and further education/nourishment gave the 600+ Mucombeze children a chance to emerge from poverty. Though simple and small in stature, these dormitories provide a pathway to a greater sense of hope for Mucombeze.

Mozambique_Completed Dormitory
Mozambique_Completed Dormitory with Kids

Recognizing the great challenges, risks and rewards of this project, Engineering News-Record (ENR) named it a Global Best Projects Award Winner. Only 34 projects from around the world were honored, and only 17 were named a “Best Project” for their outstanding efforts in the following areas: teamwork and overcoming challenges; safety; innovation and contribution to the industry/community; construction quality & craftsmanship; and function & aesthetic quality of the design. View the article in ENR for more on the project and award: Best Project, Specialty Construction: Mucombeze, Mozambique Primary School Teacher Dormitory | Engineering News-Record (enr.com)

“We are so grateful to ENR for this tremendous honor and are incredibly proud of our team for their significant effort on this project and exemplification of our Mission. This award is both a recognition of their extraordinary work and sacrifice as well as a celebration of their courage to go around the world to serve, passion and care for the people of Mozambique, and responsibility to serve a greater purpose. We hope this raises awareness for the great need to serve others all around the world and proves that even the most simple gesture can have a monumental impact.” – Chris Halapy, President & CEO, Shook Construction

Shook Construction sent a film crew, ManaVision, to Mozambique with our team in order to share our experience and inspire others to support the communities most in need. The documentary, Obrigado Mucombeze, will premiere in January 2023 and will be available on our website, Vimeo and YouTube channels. We invite others to follow our journey across the world to share what we discovered: that in giving back, we received far more than we could have imagined.

We are hopeful this leads to more conversations with other organizations about how they can implement their own mission trips and allow for the spread of the power of service. Contact globalmission@shookconstruction.com if your organization is interested in learning more about implementing a mission trip program.

All photos courtesy of ManaVision.