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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