We strive to support the Sindhupalchowk region in rebuilding sustainably with local materials. Our volunteer team works alongside local community members to produce Compressed Stabilized Earth Blocks (CSEB) at The Takure Training and Production Center. The earth blocks are composed of local soil, sand, and a small percentage of cement.
Our CSEB have already been used to complete The Siddhartha Primary School and a senior center. They are currently constructing a community center, orphanage, and homes in the surrounding community.
The Training Center currently provides fair, full-time employment for over a dozen local Nepalis. These jobs allow locals to work within the community and stay with their families..
Ultimately we envision The Training Center as a self-sufficient, Nepali run business which can function as a national hub for local, culturally-relevant, sustainable, earthquake-resistant, and affordable technologies in building.
In collaboration with Back to Earth, an organization specializing in earthen building, we are building a rammed earth office and meeting hall for the local women's financial cooperative. The Women's Co-op currently functions as a micro-finance group with approximately 730 members from various households in the Nawalpur district. Each month, the women pay a membership fee of 100 rupees (1 USD) which qualifies them to apply for loans anywhere from 5,000 to 50,000 rupees. Most families in our area are practicing agriculturists whose work simply provides enough for basic necessities. These loans allow opportunities to invest in livestock, provide simple necessities for their households, or manage a medical emergency. Rammed earth is an ancient building method which is simple to construct with local materials, affordable, strong, and durable.
In collaboration with Back to Earth we recently began construction on an earthbag home for one of our Training Center employees, Sunita Tamang. Sunita has been raising her three children on her own while working full-time since she lost her husband.
Earthbag construction is an inexpensive method using mostly local soil to create structures which are strong and can be quickly built. Once plastered, the earthbags will remain safe from water and solar degradation. This will be the first demonstration of earthbag technology in our area.
It has been two years since the ground shook and hundred of thousands of families in Nepal lost their homes. Now the dream of rebuilding is finally coming into fruition. The government recently began distributing foreign aid funds for rebuilding, which will be allocated overtime to insure earthquake resistant construction.
The process of rebuilding is slow but one we are committed to. Families from the village have begun to express interest in rebuilding their homes with CSEB, in which we're excited to support them. We've recently delivered bricks to the first home which will be sustainably rebuilt with CSEB and are currently mapping the land for more.
Our volunteer team worked alongside local skilled masons to rebuild the Siddhartha Primary School using CSEBs produced in Takure. Compressed Stabilized Earth Blocks (CSEBs) are load-bearing. However, the existing steel structure survived the earthquake, but the stone walls, which were built around the steel, were badly damaged. Our team demolished the remainders of the previous walls, built extensive retaining walls around the site, and prepared foundations for the new CSEB walls. We built three units which provided six classrooms, an office, and three latrines. The school, reinforced with rebar, now provides a safe learning space for approximately 60 students and was our first demonstration of alternative building techniques.
Many thanks to architect Fred Dolmans, of GroundUp, a registered architectural consultancy that offers professional design expertise and sustainable solutions in locations around the world.
Building a safe school is just as important to us as what happens in it afterwards. Our response to that need is the education program whose mission is to provide an interactive and hands-on learning environment for Nepali school children currently enrolled at the primary level between the ages of 3-11 years old. We currently have a team of international volunteers who visit the two primary schools and one secondary school 2-3 times a week to provide supplemental curriculum in a fun, engaging way and incorporate skills and values that can sometimes be absent in the standard government curriculum, such as: teamwork, leadership, creativity, and confidence.
Over time, as we continue working at The Takure Primary School, The Bimire Primary School, and Nawalpur Secondary School, we hope to develop a more mature program that can act as a resource to the greater community. Our current workable goals include providing outlets for artistic expression, helping to cultivate teamwork and leadership skills, and increasing the self-confidence and intellectual capability of our students. We want to be a resource for local teachers and provide supplementary learning that fits into and supports their current curriculum.
Our long-term goals include eventually building a youth community center where young children and teenagers alike can have access to a range of resources, whether that be art and school supplies, extracurricular workshops, or a locally run computer lab/internet cafe. Being cognizant of the need for sustainability, other long term goals include 1) developing an infrastructure that can train and empower local teachers to learn new methods and be as effective in their classrooms as possible, and 2) outreach to university educated Nepalis from metropolitan areas and create a program for them to volunteer and give back to rural communities.
We understand that regenerating community in Takure requires more than just rebuilding homes. The life of every family involves the vegetable garden, the animal shed, water run-off, terraced crops, and the forested ravines where wild plants are gathered daily. Using an integrative design approach, our Agriculture Team is focused on organic vegetable production, reforestation, water management, and many more sustainable long-term agriculture projects.
Our community-driven agriculture program is working to implement viable solutions in Takure. The aim to give local farmers the opportunity to engage in sustainable agriculture initiatives, such as coffee, permaculture design, and agroforestry. We employ local members of the community to assist us in learning about local farming practices and culture. The food our volunteers eat, is purchased directly from the local community as an initiative to support the local economy.. This year, we built a village water tank to support year-round access to water for farms and families. Through access to resources and training in sustainable agriculture, our hope is that these income-generating initiatives will give back to the community for generations to come.
Volunteers from around the world are immersed in a world of organic agriculture while at camp. Our volunteers have grown a garden that provides camp with organic vegetables every day. We designed our volunteer camp in alignment with the permaculture principles. The goal of which is to work with nature to build, abundance, fertility, and leave behind a system that will continue to flourish and adapt long after we leave. Our team is active everyday at camp with jobs like: tending to our garden, feeding our composting worms, and assessing sites for future projects. Many volunteers find their time in our nursery, mulching garden beds, or helping in our neighbor's rice harvest, the highlight of their time in Takure.
These trees will guarantee that we can expand our program through community agriculture development, local reforestation, and climate change mitigation. We hope to support design thinking in home reconstruction through: trainings, example designs, and forestry projects, as well as building connections with the existing government and NGO agriculture resources.
The hills of Takure, at 1400 meters elevation, are a wonderful place to grow coffee. Just a short walk away is a thriving 65 member coffee cooperative, where Lychee fruit and nitrogen-fixing trees provide shade for the coffee, giving farmers a variety of income sources while helping the land to regenerate lost topsoil and mitigating landslide, erosion and flooding. Our greenhouse serves as a startup coffee nursery for the local farmers, and we are helping to connect them to a national federation of coffee cooperatives that supports trainings, certification and distribution of the coffee. We also maintain a number of shade trees and will be offering these to farmers, along with technical training in organic practices, in the lead up to the co-op formation and coffee planting in July. We hope to plant alongside these farmers for years to come as the trees and terraces of Takure grow and thrive.
We are working to integrate self-sustaining solutions at our volunteer camp and within the local community because we believe in working with nature.
This year, we built a village water tank which will provide year-round access for farmers and their families.
Our team is working to make sure that we continue to purchase our food directly from the farmers of our village.
The introduction of food forests mean income-generation and less labor for the local community through reforestation with edible trees, shrubs, and perennials,