Meet our speaker Dr. Gerhard Dust, helping people build from the ground up

My journey, and more specifically PolyCare’s journey started on a bright January day six years ago. But for nearly 150,000 people it would be their last day. Over a million people would lose wives, husbands, children and friends. 200,000 homes would be destroyed. Countless businesses lost their premises, their staff and countless people even lost the will to carry on. Nature had played it’s wicked hand and Haiti lay in ruins.

I was struck with a desire to do something rather than watching those terrible images on the TV. But what?

Over the weeks that followed I sided with the locals and became increasingly frustrated with the slow reconstruction process. Unfortunately this problem is all too common after disasters. For both my colleagues and myself this was all the motivation we needed. So the challenge was set. How could we produce a system that built faster and stronger? That provided homes that improved health, wellbeing and longevity, as well as being much better at withstanding the worst that nature could deliver?

A chance meeting with a former East German engineer provided the catalyst. He designed a system that overcame many of the current issues by using ordinary desert sand to make polymer concrete elements in a LEGO style construction. A system so simple, unskilled survivors themselves could do most of the building. This issue was crucial to us. We wanted a system that not only built homes, but also one that empowers people to help themselves and to once again provide the motivation to live, to hope and to dream of the future.

Disaster relief is not the only application for this technology. It is estimated that over 1.3bn people are without a proper home. Indeed the majority of countries have a housing deficit. In many slums and favelas, ‘a home’ means just a few sticks and some plastic sheet. Believe me, visiting such places is a chilling experience that leaves me with memories that do not fade. Nor should they. In a civilized world we must do better, and we can do better!

Like many other inventors this journey of ours has not been easy. We knew that very many had failed before us. Of course we have had setbacks, but we are testing the bounds of what is possible and challenging the status quo. Two years on from our first demonstration, the rate of development has been exceptional. Governments and the public, rather than agencies and companies are now promoting our system and we are in the planning stages of projects across three continents. Everywhere we go there is much excitement about what we do and TED TALK has been a great stimulus for all of us to build faster and better.

So we continue with renewed energy and conviction to drive this technology forward. Our goal would make a difference to millions of the poorest and most vulnerable people on the planet. We can provide the method that allows them to help themselves.

Recent Posts

Leave a Comment