We were invited to present Earthbag Technology and share our experience with the team of Rotary Club of Thamel
We completed our model Earthbag Meeting Center on the flagship campus of Anna University in Southern India, in conjunction with university faculty and administration.
Anna engineering students helped construct the heart-shaped structure, with Good Earth Global training and supervision. The Meeting Center is shaping up to be the first of many collaborations with Indian universities, stay tuned!
Introducing young people to basic principles of sustainable building is an important part of our mission, and that's just what we did when we kicked off the Fobisia Environmental Conference
2017. At Fobisia we gave classroom and practical training to 75 students, hailing from the British School (Kathmandu), the Seoul Foreign School (Korea), the Regents International School (Thailand) and the Sri KDU International School (Malaysia).
The students learned about Earthbags and the need for sustainable development, and got to build small Earthbag structures with their own hands.
When 23 year old Karchu Bomgyang was helping her husband, Sugyalbo, fill the foundation of their new Earthbag house, she suddenly let out a small scream and dropped everything she was doing.
Karchu had gone into labor and suddenly the need for a stable, permanent home was more urgent than ever before.
Joining her older sister, Sabina (age 4), baby Sompalmu had come into a world that had been neither easy nor kind to their parents. Two years ago, Karchu and Sugyalbo had left their family and village of Bolgaun to look for work in India. Abandoning everything they knew in Nepal for the sake of earning a living. Sugyalbo worked day to day as a farmer and laborer while his wife stayed home alone to take care of their first child. Each morning around dawn, Sugyalbo joined a whole truckload of other workers to be taken to whatever project needed employees on that day and would first come home late in the evening, with a small sum of money to help provide for his family. Days, weeks, months, and eventually years passed like this until abruptly on April 25th, 2015, everything came to a sudden halt.
On a sunny Saturday in India, Sugyalbo and Karchu felt a slight shaking from below. What felt like a minor tremble to them, however, had entirely leveled their village in Nepal, destroying their family’s home and ending the lives of nearly half their neighbors, friends, and family. Upon hearing of the magnitude of destruction, this sweet family was on the road again- headed back to Bolgaun to be with those dear to them.
Arriving home after days of walking, they recognized little of the village they once knew. The road to Bolgaun had been wiped away by landslides and the entire village had fallen to the ground, killing and injuring those who had been in the way. Karchu and Sugyalbo joined the community in the long wait for aid, food, and medical help, but nothing ever came until nearly 18 months later when Australian medical workers spied the leveled village from across the valley.
Helen Simpson began a long trek across the valley and made a connection with the village of Bolgaun that finally initiated the process of rebuilding this shattered community. Now, Karchu and Sugyalbo are the first of many families in Bolgaun to rebuild their home using Earthbag method and the first to have a permanent, sustainable, and safe home for their beautiful new family.
This project is sponosored by Nimbin Health and Welfare association.
Durga is 30 years old. At this age, many of us are just beginning what we consider our “adult lives” but Durga has already lived a lifetime. At 30, Durga is married, has fathered three beautiful daughters, has worked as a security guard in Malaysia for six years, created a home with his family, lost this home when the 2015 Gorkha Earthquake reduced it to dust, and has lived in a tin shack for over a year. Durga knows how to farm, how to do carpentry work, how to support his family, and now, he has learned how to build an Earthbag house.
Durga has been sleeping in a tin shack for the past 18 months with his wife and three daughters. The tin was a donation from an international relief organization and has been conveniently assembled in the front yard of a small crooked brick house, where his sister, his parents, and his grandparents all sleep. For the past week, Durga and his wife and kids have also been sleeping in this brick house, where they cook hot meals of rice and lentils for the six volunteers who have been kindly offered the tin shack during the building process.
But they won’t be homeless for long because in just a matter of days, Durga and the volunteers have built an Earthbag house with the help of neighbors from the community. The first one to show up in the morning and the last one to leave, Durga has taken charge of the build- advising his neighbors on how to sift the earth, fill the bags, and tamp them properly. He’s more than ready to move his family into their new home and his eagerness has led to a deep interest in Earthbag building techniques and a willingness to teach these methods to his community. Two courses away from finishing the walls, Durga turns to the volunteer by his side during their tea break and tells him he’s confident he can replicate this design.
We are proud to announce our new India Initiative, designed to bring widespread sustainable Earthbag building to India for the first time.
Partnered with government-sponsored Anna University, our teaching and building program are also expected to play a critical part in Prime Minister Modi's Clean India initiative.
Anna University is one of India's largest and most prestigious universities, with five regional campuses and 600 affiliated colleges. Good Earth Nepal is now building a model Earthbag conference center on Anna's flagship Madurai campus, and we expect to build more Earthbag structures on Anna campuses in the coming year.
Anna engineering and architecture students are building the conference center themselves, with training and supervision provided by Good Earth Nepal. Soon these young building professionals will be constructing their own Earthbag structures, all over India.
Kateryna Zemskova and Dr. Owen Geiger were also keynote speakers at India's first-ever Earthbag Conference, "Promoting Entrepreneurship In Innovative Construction Techniques". The two-day summit in Madurai was a huge success, with over 350 scholars, students, researchers and government officials in attendance.
Thanks to Dean Swarnalatha and our Good Earth Nepal staff in Madurai, India for making all this happen, and we look forward to further work with Anna University and the Indian government.
In the village of Kaule, Nuwakot District, Good Earth Nepal is working with Carisimo and Kaule Environment Nepal NGO on a special multi-home construction project.
Ten families from the village have been selected to receive the resources and training necessary to build an Earthbag home with the understanding that they will aid one another in the building process. This community-based model encourages neighbors to come together to rebuild a village alongside each other.
The selected families have undergone primary training in Earthbag design and concept and we are now in the process of clearing the land.
Perhaps the most important aspect of this project is the families that have been selected to build their own homes. We wanted to highlight a few of these families to shed some light on just who the faces in the photos are and hope that it allows for our supporters to feel the connection between Good Earth Nepal, the non-profits we work with, and the Nepali people who are rebuilding their own country.
The Family of Indra Bahadur Tamang
Indra, his wife Dil Maya, and their four children used to live in a stone masonry house before the earthquake destroyed it on April 25th, 2015. Like so many others in Kaule, they now live in a temporary shelter built of scraps from their former home. They have received a total of 15,000 Nepali rupees from the government as aid after the earthquake, an amount approximately equivalent to $150 USD.
We met with Indra’s wife, Dil Maya, and two of the couple’s four children. Indra, she told us, was working their land somewhere down on the intricately terraced mountains in Kaule. With the monsoon season starting, the villagers of Kaule are busy preparing the land for the planting of rice.
The Family of Gopi Tamang and Chinni Maya Tamang
Gopi Tamang used to live in his stone masonry house with his wife and son. His sister, Chinni Maya Tamang, had left her husband and was living with her father and mother when the earthquake hit in 2015. Ever since the earthquake, Gopi, Chinni Maya, their father, mother, their two brothers, their sister, their nephew and Gopi’s son all live in the same shelter, built from materials salvaged after the earthquake. Like many others, Gopi and his family have not received any aid from the government due to the strict requirements of formal land ownership.
Gopi returned three months ago from Qatar, where he was working to support his family. Chinni Maya and him now survive on what they can grow in Kaule.
The Family of Jhalak Man Tamang
Jhalak Man Tamang’s home was also destroyed in the 2015 earthquake. He currently lives in a temporary shelter with his wife and daughter. To earn a living, he grows his own food and works with other various forms of labor.
When we asked Jhalak Man Tamang if he had received any help from the government after the 2015 earthquake, he answered no. In rural Nepal, informal land ownership and subdivision deprives people of the little help they would otherwise receive from the government, which requires official papers. In some ways, this requirement is a necessary precaution, but it often gets in the way of thousands of people receiving much needed aid. As an NGO, Good Earth Nepal tries to help those who are not able to receive aid from the government because of such constraints.
Thanks to intern Sergio Espinosa for the information and portraits.
This Spring we celebrated the grand opening of Shree Jana Primary School, a two room school that Good Earth Nepal has built in cooperation with Australian organization, Birds of Passage, who funded the construction. The opening was a great success, attended by members of Nepal Reconstruction Authority, Nepal Engineers Association and journalists from leading newspapers.
We were also very pleased to have Dr. Owen Geiger join us for this great opening of our second finished Earthbag school. It looks like the children were happy to have him there!
This Spring, Dr. Owen Geiger visited us in Nepal and spent three weeks working touring and evaluating Earthbag buildings in collaboration with Good Earth Nepal . His visit was sponsored by GLS Treuhand Bank and Schock Familien Stiftung and GEN is very grateful for their generous support in funding Dr. Geiger's visit to Nepal.
The first weeks of the tour were spent visiting current Earthbag construction sites around Nepal and evaluating the building practices, assessing building techniques and the safety of construction.
Among the villages visited was Mulabari, in Nuwakot District, where German non-profit Carisimo has built 30 Earthbag homes since September. The project emphasizes community and self reliance as the villagers not only build their own homes, but help neighbors in constructing theirs.
Good Earth Nepal is now partnering with Carisimo in a similar project where we will be building ten homes for families in the village of Kaula. More on this in the coming newsletter!
With Dr. Geiger, we also visited a village in Sindupalchowk where New Zealand based non-profit First Steps Himalaya is building an impressive school, as well as a round kindergarten. Prior to the earthquake, this organization had just finished building their first school which completely withstood the shocks.
The tour was a great success and we look forward to continuing our partnership with Dr. Geiger, Method Ambassador and Technical Consultant to Good Earth Nepal.
Together with Dr. Geiger, our Method Ambassador, Good Earth Nepal conducted a two-day hands-on workshop in Phulping, Sindupalchowk where we are reconstructing a school. This workshop was part of Dr. Geiger's three week tour of Nepal, sponsored by the GLS Treuhand Bank and Schock Familien Stiftung oundation.
This project is unique as we are reusing an existing foundation, metal poles, roof trusses, windows and doors. We are using Earthbags to reconstruct the old school with these recycled materials.
Dr. Geiger was there to share tips and tricks and assist us in leading a more advanced technical workshop. Among trainees were Nepali architects and engineers, several villagers, and volunteers from Spain, UK, Israel, and USA.
We are happy to announce that this Saturday we HAVE OPENED OUR FIRST EARTHBAG SCHOOL: Mahakal Primary School in Makwanpur district.
The project has been a real challenge for us due to many obstacles that constitute Nepal reality: strikes, gas shortage, inflated prices, festivals, cold weather, electricity blackouts, etc... The school site is located in a remote area with poor road access and at times our volunteers and workers had to carry heavy materials for hours uphill.
On the other hand the end result is INCREDIBLE. The school itself is beautiful, the kids and villagers are happy to have a new school, the workers were able to earn income and volunteers had an unforgettable experience that they will remember for the rest of their lives.
We would like to thank everyone who has participated in this project, and special thanks to Nathan, Roshan, Eric, Arnaud, Flo, Manish and Dn who played key roles in the success of our project.
We were excited this month to meet with Nepal’s Minister of Education, Mr. Girirajmani Pokharel. We discussed alternative building techniques and presented Earthbag technology during the meeting. Our presentation was well-received by him and his team, and we have been invited to submit Earthbag school designs to the Ministry.