One Year On: Mason We Trained are Reconstructing Homes
Eka Parsad Dulal, 63, has recently finished building one house and is busy constructing two of his neighbors’ houses at Pauwa-Ward 9, Sano Sirubari VDC in Sindhupalchowk these days. He has been earning his living as a mason for the past 40 years, but little did he know how to build earthquake-resilient houses until recently. After the devastating earthquake on April 25, 2015, 9 masons in Pauwa were trained by Institution for Suitable Actions for Prosperity (ISAP) and Peace Winds Japan (PWJ) to build earthquake-resistant houses.
“For the last 40 years, we never thought about how much destruction our construction technique would uphold; we blindly followed traditional masonry that our forebears taught us” shares Dulal. Other masons, laborers, and house owners in the community share the same remorse, but the story does not end here.
The training made masons’ aware of the shortcomings in their construction methods. “After the training, we have adopted certain changes in our construction habits. Now, we know proper techniques such as need for tie-stones and methodologically tying walls with bands and so on. So, the houses we build now will not collapse easily”, said another mason, Homnath Dulal.
Masons recall that on-the-job training by building demonstration/model house, now used for early childhood development (ECD), apart from the 7-day Mason Training following the DUDBC curriculum, was the most effective method for changing their habits and practices.
“Such on-the-job training under the constant supervision of the engineers was the first opportunity to realize our construction blunders and change our traditional masonry habits,” Dulal elaborates while expressing gratitude toward the training.
Enthusiastically passing mud mortar to the laborers, Rewati Raman Dulal is very satisfied with his on-going house reconstruction. The house is being built under the supervision of masons trained by ISAP and PWJ.
He says, “I thought stone in mud mortar houses cannot resist earthquake when I saw my house collapse in front of my eyes. I had sleepless nights wondering how I would rebuild with my low income. However, once I attended the orientation on rebuilding safer houses by utilizing local resources with minimum additional materials, I now have dared to rebuild with the subsidy from the government. I am confident that this house will resist small earthquake, and will at least buy time for me to run outside if the bigger earthquake hits.”
Nearly 160 houses in Pauwa were destroyed by the earthquake. One of the trained masons, Kancha Man Thapa Magar, 59, shares that 9 trained masons will not only be rebuilding houses in Pauwa, but will also assist semi-skilled masons and laborer of neighboring VDC to rebuild upon requirement.
Training has not only helped in safer rebuilding but also has become a source of living for many. Magar now earns NRs 800 per day, while he used to earn NRs 1200 per contract for laying groundwork for biogas plants at a household level which involved days of work. Other masons now earn NRs 400 to 600 per day by building through improved techniques, while their previous income was no more than NRs 350 per day.
Mason and semi-professional masons of Irkhu VDC and Sanosirubari VDC in Sindhupalchowk were also provided similar training, and these 121 trained masons are helping to fill the demand of more than 60,000 masons for completion of reconstruction within 5 years.
Deependra Kc, Praveen Shrestha and Saugat Regmi