Archive for the 'General MicroAid Updates' Category

More MicroAid in Nepal —July 2017

Jon Ross on Jul 19th 2017

Namaste MicroAid supporters:

 

MicroAid has started another project in Nepal.  We’re doing a home repair for another earthquake-survivor family in the Kathmandu Valley town of Bhaktapur.

 

This time, we are helping the Gyamaru family by making their home livable again.  Even though it looks OK from the outside, the interior walls and floors were severely damaged.

exterior front gyamaru

 

gyamaru ceiling before

 

MicroAid is reinforcing the walls and adding a center structural support column, and repairing the floors and ceilings.

 

gyamaru floor repair 1

 

gyamaru ceiling repair 1

 

Many homes were destroyed in the earthquake in 2015 (we built a new one for the Balram family in 2016), but many others were so damaged that they were unsafe to live in.

 

Earlier this year, MicroAid repaired a house for the Syama family, so that they could live in a safe home and get back to their normal life.

 

Now we will do the same for the Gyamarus.

 

Thank you for your help growing MicroAid to the point where we can do multiple project in one year—I am even prepping another project in Paraguay, where severe flooding has left many families homeless.

 

We really are making a huge difference in people’s lives—directly, efficiently, and completely.  Not many other organizations have the kind of transparency and effectiveness that we do.

 

I am so happy that MicroAid can help people return to self-sufficiency.

 

Please make another donation so we can continue this essential work—in Nepal and around the world.

 

http://microaidinternational.org/donate.php

 

Thank you.

 

Jon Ross

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Second Project in Nepal is Complete – Winter 2017

Jon Ross on Mar 28th 2017

March 28, 2017

 

syma-family

 

I am happy to report that our second project in Nepal is complete—on-time and on budget, thanks to our new in-country project manager, Nabina Duwal.  Since the father of the Syama family died last year and there was no other family to help them, MicroAid stepped up to repair and retrofit their home, which was severely damaged in the earthquake of 2015.

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before Microaid

Syama family back wall 2015 before MicroAid

 

new back try for the syama family

new back door and wall for the Syama family 2017

The Syama family has occupied the narrow five-story home in Bhaktapur, in the urban Kathmandu Valley, for generations.

syma-front-1

But since the earthquake of 2015, they have been living in only the bottom two rooms, even thought the entire building was unsafe.

taking down the upper floor windows

taking down the upper floor windows

 

dangerous old wooden balconies

dangerous old wooden balconies

At the suggestion of our engineer/consultant, we removed the top floor and the wooden balconies, replaced the four-story back wall, reinforced all the floors, and replaced the major support columns.

new wall and windows for the syama family

Finally, we installed three new windows and one new door.

new rooftop

new rooftop

Our repair and retrofit of the Syama’s home will last for generations to come.

new wall and windows for the syama family

new wall and windows for the Syama family

I was told by the head of another NGO that MicroAid is one of only a few organizations that has actually completed a home reconstruction in Nepal—now, we have done two . Two years after the disaster, which destroyed 650,000 homes, the government, although handing out small grants for reconstruction efforts, has not rebuilt a single home for the earthquake survivors, even though they are sitting on billions of dollars of foreign aid money.

bardada jon w rubble

This is why I created MicroAid: to circumvent the red tape and foot-dragging, and help some people return to self-sufficiency! With a MicroAid in-country project manager we will continue to do this in Nepal—efficiently, economically, and completely.

nabina-window-install

Nabina overseeing window installation

Thank you for supporting this important work.

 

Namaste,

 

Jon

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MicroAid continues in Nepal

Jon Ross on Feb 11th 2017

 

 

Our second project in Nepal, headed by MicroAid’s new in-country project manager, is going well.

syma-front-1

I am in daily contact with Nabina as she coordinates the repair of a multi-story family home in heart of Bhaktapur, the historic Newar capital in the urban Kathmandu Valley, for the Syma family.

syma-family

 

The father of our beneficiary family died last year and left his wife and their two kids to fend for themselves. MicroAid vetted the situation to find out that they have no extended family and no other recourse.

syma-back-ext-2

 

syma-back-wall-balconies-med-2

The back wall of their house crumbled (pictured above) during the Gorkha earthquake in 2015, and they have been living in the bottom two rooms of the house ever since. The structure was completely unsafe, but they had nowhere else to go.

syma-seeting-frame-in-wall

syma-door-frame-1
MicroAid is replacing the entire back wall, windows, and doors, and shoring up the internal walls and floors, while re-enforcing the supporting beams and removing the dangerous wooden balconies. (new back wall, below)

syma-back-wall-w-frames-2

I also had an independent engineer, a friend from Kathmandu, look at the project, and we determined that we should also eliminate the entire top floor to reduce the overall load and make the building safe for future quakes—and for future generations of the Syma family.

nabina-window-install

Nabina is doing an awesome job keeping the project on schedule and on budget. I couldn’t be happier with her performance as MicroAid’s newest program manager. Additionally, by hiring Nabina, we have given another person in Nepal much needed employment—she is the oldest child in her family and is responsible for taking care of her parents and sisters. Her job with MicroAid will help her entire family.

For my part, beside coordinating the Nepal project, I am continuing to prep for a project in Paraguay, where, over the last few years, torrential flooding has caused the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people. We are assessing the best course of action to help re-build some homes for flood-survivor families—probably in the capital of Asuncion (pictured flooded, below).

asuncion-floods-abc-color
I hope you and your family are well.

Thank you for your support.

Wishing you all the best,
Jon

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Our Nepal in-country program manager — January 2017

Jon Ross on Jan 27th 2017

 

Happy New Year!  MicroAid is starting the new year by “scaling up.”

 

Over the years, many of you have asked how we are going to expand the organization and help more people.  While I was in Nepal last year, I worked with a very capable interpreter /assistant, Nabina Duwal. During that job, and since my return to the U.S., I’ve been training her to run a small project on her own—Nabina will be MicroAid’s first in-country project manager.  She will be coordinating a modest-sized home repair for an earthquake-survivor family.  I will be in daily contact with her, making sure the project is done efficiently and completely—the MicroAid way.  Our new MicroAid Nepal project manager is the first step toward expanding our work.

 

nabina-shortcut

 

Meanwhile, I will be focusing on flood survivors in Paraguay, where an international real estate firm has invited MicroAid to partner with them to help rebuild homes.  I will lead a MicroAid disaster recovery project and oversee home construction for survivor families.  Also in the works are future projects in Nicaragua and Ecuador.

 

Now, more than ever, it’s important to continue to be generous, compassionate, and tolerant. Here at MicroAid, with your help, we will.

 

I hope 2017 is treating you well, so far.

 

All the best,

 

Jon

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Giving Thanks — November 2016

Jon Ross on Nov 27th 2016

 

Dear MicroAid supporters:

I hope all is well with you.  At this time of thanksgiving, I want you to know how much I appreciate your support.

This is the time of year when we evaluate our lives and realize how lucky we are, and how thankful we are, for all that we have.  In so many other parts of the world, every day is a life-and-death struggle against crushing poverty, the natural elements, or man-made horrors.

Through your support of MicroAid, we are making a real and positive difference in the world—helping survivors of disasters rebuild their homes and their lives.  I am so thankful to be the representative of your generosity and good will.  Thank you!

 

jon and pedro family final med

Philippines 2015

family outside new house

Peru 2013

u

Sri Lanka 2010

Over the years, MicroAid has helped thousands of people, in dozens of families, return to self-sufficiency after losing everything in a natural disaster.  Because of your donations, survivor-families now have safe and comfortable homes, where kids can sleep and do their homework, and parents can focus on other pressing needs of raising a family, without worrying about where they will live.

balram family fest dress

Nepal 2016

And you know, 100 percent of your donation goes toward helping those in need—to the programs that change so many lives for the better.  Overhead expenses are covered by me, the board of directors, and other specific grants.  And MicroAid stays in the field until the projects are done—efficiently, directly, and completely.

So, as we get ready to give thanks—for our secure existence, our family, and our friends—please take a moment to help those less fortunate by making a donation so we can continue this work.

donate now image

 

 

From the bottom of my heart, and from all the people we have helped and will help, thank you.

jon with macbook 1

Wishing you all the best for the holiday season.

Jon

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Nepal House Complete — Summer 2016

Jon Ross on Aug 31st 2016

 

When a natural disaster strikes somewhere in the world, like the recent earthquakes in Italy and in Myanmar, people often ask, “What can I do to help?”

Here at MicroAid, we have the answer: Go and rebuild people’s homes and get them back to their normal lives!

I am happy to report that the MicroAid house for our beneficiary family in Nepal is complete!

As you know, the Balram family lost their home in the Gorkha earthquake in April 2015.

While the Nepalese government has not rebuilt a single home, and has made it almost impossible for the other big NGOs to help, MicroAid has provided a permanent, comfortable, and safe home for this family for generations to come.

 

This was what they were living in when I arrived in Nepal in March.  There was no way they were ever going to rebuild the home they had lost:

 

Balram family quonset hut

 

This is the house MicroAid built for them.

 

katunje site konstans view w glass (1)

 

During construction:

 

katunje site skyview1

 

balram family fest dress

 

This was their old bathroom/outhouse:

 

katunje site outhouse old (1)

 

Now they have indoor plumbing.

 

katune site bathroom w toilet (1)

 

The interior of the old shack was dark and cramped and leaky, hot in the summer, cold in the winter:

 

Balram family quonset interior

 

New interior—light airy, secure, and weather-tight—with electric lights:

 

katunje site front door int (1)

 

katunje site light fixture w doors int (1)

 

The Balram family will live comfortably in this house for many generations to come.

Thank you for contributing to this important work: helping people directly, efficiently, and completely.

When anyone asks what you have done to help the survivors of disasters, you can show them these photos… and please continue to support MicroAid International.

Namaste to you and your family,

Jon

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Nepal House Project – Spring/Summer 2016

Jon Ross on Aug 10th 2016

 

Namaste.

I hope all is well with you.

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katunje site tree view11

 

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So, I have truly learned the meaning of “Nepali time”: It means slow. After four months of construction, we are very close to being done with the new home for our beneficiary family. All the plaster, plumbing, and electrical work is done, but there are still a few last details to be finished. We will be putting glass in the windows and installing doors within the next couple of weeks!

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katunje site interior wiring wall cut

 

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More than 16 months after the earthquake, where 650,000 homes were destroyed, the Nepali government has not rebuilt a single one… and it has not allowed the other NGOs to do so, either. MicroAid has!

 

katunje site interior plaster complete 1

 

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By working directly with a survivor family, we have set an example for future disaster reconstruction in that country. Many people, including heads of other international organizations, have come to visit our site.

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katunje site slab pour

 

As difficult as this project has been—construction, culture, environment, people—it has been a fascinating experience, and we have really done some good work and been of great service.

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balram - sangita and samip

 

At least this Nepali family will have a solid, safe, comfortable home for generations to come.

Thank you for supporting this important work.

Namaste,

Jon

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Nepal house project — Spring 2016

Jon Ross on Jul 8th 2016

 

Namaste from Nepal.

 

katunje site tree view10

All the structural work on the house for our beneficiary family is complete!

katunje site low1

Setting wood forms for second slab (roof), setting sun.

 

katunje site tree view5 slab forms

 

katunje site tree view6

Steel reinforcement for second slab (roof).

 

katunje site tree view8

Steel reinforcement for second slab (roof) dropped into channels.

 

 

katunje site low2 w bina in window

 

All we have left is the finishing work, plastering, and installing the window glass and doors.

 

Bhaktapur gravel porter

 

Nepal continues to be one of the most difficult places I have worked—mostly due to the urban location of the site, the desperation of the Nepali people in the face of an inefficient/corrupt government (of the 650,000 homes destroyed in the earthquake over 18 months ago, few others have been rebuilt, even though the government is “sitting on” billions of dollars of foreign aid money), cultural, economic, and social strictures, and their own struggle with day-to-day existence and lack of opportunities.

 

facebook chum khola chepag

 

katunje neighbor kids selfie

 

For me, personally, Nepal has been a real eye-opener: even though I have travelled extensively and lived in many parts of the world, Nepal has surprised me again and again with it’s distinct approach to changing styles and mores (and the other essentials of just being human) in the face the ubiquitous and instant dissemination of images and information over the internet.

 

my favorite temple in bhaktapur, dattareya, with the well for the community in front, goats on the steps. spooky at night.

my favorite temple in bhaktapur, dattareya, with the well for the community in front, goats on the steps. spooky at night.

bhaktapur dattatreya night low angle

 

Nevertheless, I am happy to be nearing the end of this project, and appreciate all the emails with your good wishes and words of support.

 

jon w rebar 2

 

 

One of my friend’s sons had to do a report for school on “grit,” and interviewed me for the assignment.  Many of you have asked similar questions over the years, so here are some answers as to why and how I do this work.

 

Thank you for being part of my grit project.  I really appreciate it! 

No worries.  Happy to help.

I just read the Nepal blog.  I think it’s really cool what you are doing for these people who have lost their homes and family members. Their story was really sad.  I’m wondering how did you find this family and what made you choose to help them over all of the other families that might need help.

The selection process has a bit of fate involved.  As you pointed out, in any post-disaster circumstance, there are an unlimited number of people who need help.  Even the big organizations and governments cannot help everyone.  That’s why I created MicroAid: to help people who get missed.  I start by contacting people I know in the country, or with connections in the country, as well as people in my network of other disaster-related NGOs.  Usually, among the dozens of people I talk with, I end up in contact with some local individuals who know a family, or two, who need help.  After prepping for a few months in the U.S., I go to the country and visit the area and people who still need help.  On the ground, I do some deeper inquiries into their particular situations (baseline studies), then make a decision who to help.  Some of the factors involved are the size of the family, their past situation (size of house, etc.), what they need, how much it will cost, whether they would be helped by anyone else (MicroAid is the last resort for theses families; I don’t want to help if another organization would do it), where I can get materials and labor, where I will stay, what I will eat, who I will use as a translator, how I will get money from the U.S. into the country and exchange it, among other factors.  The bottom line is: there are a series of lucky events and contacts that lead to my finding an appropriate MicroAid situation/beneficiary family.

I noticed that when you helped the Samoans build the canoes, it lead to a big job for them.  I am also wondering if your work with one family often creates a domino effect. So, do you think when you help one family and they get settled that they would then help another family, and so on?

When I build a house, it is essential that the able-bodied family members help.  Often, they learn some skills, like brick-laying or concrete work, that they can, and have, used to get work after I leave.  The long-term effect of building a house for a family is hard to measure:  they have a dry, safe and secure place to live, which reduces disease and other ailments, the parents can focus on earning money and taking care of the other needs of the family, the children have a place to do homework and can get a good night’s sleep, etc. etc.  The long-term effects are positive in that the family is more productive and healthy.  But yes, they do acquire some specific skills they can use for employment.  One other benefit is that with a nice house in a neighborhood, other families are often motivated to improve their own property as well.

I am also wondering how hard it is to raise money for your projects. Are there times that you feel like you want to give up? If so what keeps you going?

It is very hard to raise money for the projects.  Since I created MicroAid to stay focused on disasters after the world’s attention has moved on—often, many years after a catastrophe—when I ask people to donate, they don’t remember the disaster, or sometimes think that everyone has been helped already.  Also, there are so many causes in the world—diseases, environment, education, simple poverty, civil rights, abuse, etc. etc.—it’s hard to find just the right people who want to help long-term disaster recovery: permanent houses for disaster survivors.

There are many times I want to give up: when working in the field (it can be very frustrating, physically demanding, emotionally draining) and when trying to raise money.

What keeps me going is a sense that this is the right thing for me to be doing, personally, that ultimately, I like the challenges and overcoming them, and I like to help people who otherwise would have a very difficult life without a home, and I like to build houses.  I also like living in, and learning about, other places and cultures in our world.  So, as hard as it all is, it is helpful to the people, and I feel a personal sense of fulfillment doing this work.

How did you get the idea to start MicroAid? What was your inspiration?  

I realized that even though media quickly moves from one story to the next (a disaster is in the news for a couple of days, then gone), there were plenty of people (disaster survivors) who still needed help.  It didn’t seem like anyone was staying focused on them, most of the big organizations only do immediate emergency relief, not long-term recovery (permanent houses), so I decided to do it.

My dad said that you have done some work with Habitat for Humanity. Did that help you at all with starting MicroAid?

I was a regular volunteer with Habitat in L.A. (once a week for two years, prior to creating MicroAid) and I got most of my construction experience that way.  I was involved in building 22 houses for low-income families from the ground up to the roof.  I also took their construction skills course and was certified by Habitat to build houses and to be a crew leader.  Without that base of construction knowledge, I would not have been able to go out on my own and do what I do.  Also, my years as a production manager for TV commercials, where I managed the budgets, hired the crew, rented and bought equipment, and scheduled the jobs was another invaluable skill-set for doing MicroAid work. Add to that my extensive travel experience and you get an idea of the many elements that came together before I embarked on this journey.

Was it hard to get your first project started? If it was, what made you not give up?  Did you accomplish your goals when you first started?

It was pretty hard getting the first project started: raising money without any track-record, was difficult.  When I went to Sri Lanka to build my first MicroAid house, I ended up running out of donated money and used my own money to finish the job.  I just wasn’t going to fail.  (I guess that’s the grit.)  I also got very sick in Sri Lanka and almost died from heat stroke.  In other places I have had intestinal parasites and other ailments that made it very unpleasant and physically difficult.  In Samoa and the Philippines it was more than a 100 degrees and 100 percent humidity and full of mosquitos, which makes it hard and dangerous work.  And there are moments of incredible loneliness due to the remote locations and isolation of language, but, as I said before, it’s part of who I am to overcome these challenges and get the job done.  Grrrrrit!

Also I was wondering where do you usually live when you are working on a project? 

I have lived in thatched huts with no water or electricity, with local families in depressing cinderblock rooms, nice guest houses with Wi-Fi, and even pleasant rented apartments.  Different places in different situations.

Also I see you had a translator. You mentioned her in your blog. Do always get a translator?

I alway get a translator—who comes to the site with me every day.  (Except on this job in Nepal—which was a complete mistake not to have one from the beginning.)  I need to be understood in all the details of the job—talking with the workers, the vendors, and the beneficiary family—and i will always have a translator in the future.

Thank you for letting me interview you.

You are most welcome.  Good luck with the project.  Please let me know how it is received.  Namaste from Nepal.

 

bhaktapur ghat

temple near the ghat, in bhaktapur, where they burn their dead bodies.

bhaktapur ghat w river

 

So, supporters, that’s it for now.

 

balram family fest dress

 

Thank you for your participation in this critical work.  We are really making a huge difference in people’s lives—directly, efficiently, and completely.

Namaste,

Jon

 

 

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Nepal House Project – Spring 2016

Jon Ross on Jun 2nd 2016

 

Here in Nepal, the house for our beneficiary family is coming along slowly but surely.  After series of delays, we are finally making good progress.

katunje site skyview1

 

katunje site overview5

We are building to very high international seismic standards, per the post-earthquake Nepal Building Code.  We had to submit engineered plans for the permit and are being inspected for our steel reinforcements and column concrete.  The brick walls are “double run”—9 inches thick— and there are reinforced concrete tie-bands at the sill level and lintel level, which are connected to the columns.

katunje site tree view4

 

We work seven days a week, but because of all the festivals and holidays here in the Newari town of Bhaktapur, there are pauses every couple of weeks for a day or two, or more.

Traditional Newari dress

Traditional Newari dress

 

Since I’ve been here, I have experienced the Holi Festival, Bisket Jatra, Nepali New Year, Diwali Festival, the Buddha’s birthday, and Mothers Day, which has a much older and more tradition-laden history than our own: it is a national holiday, where most people travel great distances to visit with mom and eat special sweets.

bisket chariot passed

As interesting and exotic as each of these events was they set the project behind a bit.

katunje site women shovel gravel 3

(women do most of the hardest work. no need for “equality” protests here.)

 

Even though I didn’t think I needed it at first, because one of the family members spoke passable English, I eventually found a good interpreter with construction experience, who helped relay the need for efficiency, and got the project moving faster.  Also, having someone to talk with every day on the site, about work—or even just chitchat in English—was good for my spirits.

sallaghari valley view

 

Personally, I am healthy, although the pollution here in the Kathmandu Valley is as bad as I’ve seen anywhere in the world, and I wear a mask while walking to and from work every day, as do most of the locals.

commute shortcut

(shortcut to work across the rice fields)

 

Even so, my lungs and sinuses are constantly battling the smog and dust they are forced to deal with.

 

bhaktapur durbar palace falling down

And there have been many good-sized after-shocks to the earthquake that caused all the problems in the first place—Gorkha 2015.  A sometimes scary and sad reminder of why we are here.

 

balram family with pillars

(extended family from far and wide have come to see the new home construction)

 

The main thing, though: the family we are helping will have a safe, dry, and comfortable house for generations to come.

 

door blessing mom and santosh med

(blessing the front door during construction)

 

astam jon drama wide

 

As for Nepal in general, even though there are areas of immense natural beauty and pure, wonderful magic energy, the majority of people are really struggling and unhappy—they have to contend with a corrupt and inefficient government that delivers less than 11 hours of electricity a day, mostly in the middle of the night; while municipal water is turned on only every five days for a few hours, for entire communities.

commute hgway w women

 

People’s main goal is to somehow get out of here.  The villagers want to move to the cities, and when they do… the city people want to go abroad.

 

bardada girl w load

 

This is due to massive inequities, because of the caste system (which is institutionalized by their constitution), repressed social/sexual communication, arranged marriages, entrenched familial obligations (taking care of their parents is the tip of the iceberg of what kids here are expected to do), massive shortages of every kind (gasoline, cooking fuel, medicine, construction materials, in addition to water and electricity), lives of intense physical hardship and drudgery, lack of opportunities, and just the constant bombardment from media that life is better elsewhere—because it is.

bhaktapur ghat entrance

 

After living here for four months, America does start to seem like a dream.  But I feel very lucky to get to experience the world in this way and help some very needy and deserving people live an easier life.

bhaktapur door with buddha eyes

(the always watchful eyes of the deity of your choice: sometimes shiva, sometimes buddha)

 

Thank you for your part in this important work—we really are making a huge difference in people’s lives, now, and for future generations.

balram - sangita and samip

 

I hope you and your family are healthy, happy, and secure.

 

Namaste from Nepal,

 

Jon

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Nepal House Project – Spring 2016

Jon Ross on Apr 24th 2016

 

donate now image

 

First, I want to express sympathy for the earthquake victims in Japan and Ecuador. We will put Ecuador on our list for our help down the road. Toward that goal, MicroAid assistant program manager, Chelsey Marsing, has set up an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign for us. Please check it out through the link above, donate if you can, and share it on Facebook and your other social media platforms. Thank you.

 

Here in Nepal, building a new home for our beneficiary family, on the outskirts of Kathamandu, near Bhaktapur, is going slowly but surely… after a few hiccups.

katunje site jon and purna ram

jon and local contractor

No sooner had we broken ground on the MicroAid project, after a single day digging the foundation, we had to stop. It seems a new zoning rule, post-earthquake, required more of a set-back from the street. So, because of the vagaries of the shape of our site, the engineer had to re-do the plan and re-submit for the permit.

 

katunje site setting pillars with concrete women

women laborers delivering concrete

Now we work seven days a week—when there are no Hindu, Newari, or Buddhist holidays, which seem to come every few days, so it is really a few days on, a day or two off.

 

Balram family quonset interior

But the family is so happy they will have a home again—and not have to live for the rest of their lives in a makeshift Quonset hut.  We are building beyond U.S. earthquake standards.

 

balram - sangita and safal

the family has been on this land for five generations

 

As you know, they are in the caste of tailors, and did all the sewing work for the community—clothes, curtains, bedding, etc. But over the years, due to ready-made options, their business declined and they became poor; then the father died; then the earthquake destroyed their house. They would never have been able to rebuild on their own.

 

katunje site making pillars rebar

the urban site actually has a lovely view

 

But the story gets more sad: when the father was sick (before he died ten years ago) the family sold most of their land to pay for his medical expenses (not surprisingly, this did not save his life); and they only held on to this last plot—just enough to build on and have a little left over for a vegetable garden. And since all the Government and international earthquake-recovery resources are focused on the mountain villages, MicroAid stepped up!

 

balram family santosh brick

head of the household since his father died with the first brick of their new home

Now that having a new house is becoming a reality for them—and I am showing up every day—we are getting to know one another.

dressed for a holy day visit to the temple

dressed for a holy day visit to the temple

It’s a great MicroAid moment when you start to see each member of the family as an individual—getting to know their personalities and the dynamic of the group. This, really, is the “magic” of this work.

katunje site overview 5 pillars

Thank you for being part of the process—helping people get back into a real home for generations to come.

 

katunje site women shovel gravel 3

teamwork—shoveling gravel

 

On a cultural note, many people here have asked me about this American concept of “the weekend”—they see it on TV—where we have two whole days of total leisure, and get together with friends for brunch, movies, concerts, art shows, museums, yoga, tennis, sailing, the gym, spa-days, etc. etc.  They don’t have any of that here.  It made me think about how many opportunities for entertainment we have. (Bowling!)  Here, they work six or seven days a week, and when they have time off, they wash clothes, cook, clean house, take care of family things, and maybe, watch a bit of TV—and learn about our vast amount of leisure time, and how we spend it.

 

brick factory in the pit

hard labor at the brick factory

 

We just don’t realize: in most places, there are no art galleries, sports arenas, symphony halls, theaters, or even bookstores or libraries. (They don’t lie around reading a novel, here, because there’s no place to get a book.) And, anyway, people just don’t have the time, or the money. So, let’s enjoy our “weekend” and the lucky fate that allows us that privilege.

 

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