On Aug 15, 2017
How Constructing Demo-Houses Provided Skills and Changed Perception of House Owners in Rural Sindhupalchowk
“The earth started trembling, the mud rammed walls started tearing apart, the walls started splitting and in the mere blink of an eye, nothing but ruins remained of our house” Bal Bahadur Damai, aged 58 bleakly remembers the earthquake of April 2015, the day he was having lunch with his wife inside his house – the day he lost his house that his grandfather had built. Since that day he and his family, like hundreds of other who lost their homes to the earthquake, have been living in a temporary tin shelter, yet if could have seen him recently, he is all smile and content. He is happy because after living 2 years in a temporary shelter that floods when it rains heavily and invites snakes in warm weather, he will be able to celebrate this Dashain in his new permanent house.
Bal Bahadur and his wife had given up the thought of living in a house with proper walls and a roof ever again. It was only a few months ago, Bal Bahadur recalls, when his wife was deeply troubled by the thought that may be their death will come earlier before they see a roof above them. For a person who belongs to the lower sub-economic caste group, has no inherited wealth and low income that barely sustains his family, reconstruction of the house with the government provided compensation of NRs 3 lakhs seemed impossible.
Once an impossible dream for Bal Bahadur and his family is turning into a reality after attending the 50 days “On-the-job” mason training and 7 days additional course as stated by DUDBC curriculum. Having had worked as a semi-skilled part-time mason for past 12 years, it was only during the training he realized and understood why his two story house, that had stood tall from his grandfather’s time, fell the way it did. Since he had witnessed the fall of his house from in and outside, the haunting memories could flash back as the engineers demonstrated the drawbacks in their traditional construction methods. He has come to the understanding of use of through stone so that walls do not dilapidate, right thickness of mud mortar, and so on that contributes to making of a disaster resistant house.
The training has proven useful not only because it provided the knowledge related to construction, but it also allowed the participants to understand that reconstruction of earthquake resilient houses can be done cost efficiently by utilizing locally available resources. Bal Bahadur shares, “I was amongst the many that believed the NRs 3 lakhs provided by the government was not enough to build a house while building safer houses was impossible.” But now, he has started rebuilding his own house using the stones, woods, and tin from his old house and buying other necessary materials, and this could cost him 4 lakhs rupees in total. He shares, “I want to build an exemplary house so that people, especially marginalized community like me, gain confidence to rebuild by understanding that constructing disaster resistant houses are possible with locally available resources at a minimum cost.” Once the construction of his house is concluded, he plans on forming a team of 5 and oversee the rebuilding of other houses.
Suresh Kumar Tamang, aged 32, is another participant of the mason training. He was involved in a few construction works but lacked the technical knowledge regarding construction. The training has opened many doors for unemployed youth like Suresh. Though the work is slow during the monsoon, Suresh is hopeful that he along with other youths can work in construction of houses as the monsoon end and earn their living.
ISAP, with the support of ピースウィンズ・ジャパン Peace Winds Japan and Akaihane Kyodo Bokin, has completed Mason Training Program for Earthquake Resilient Building Construction in Thulopakhar VDC and Jethal VDC of Sindhupalchowk, training 30 semi-professional construction workers and 5 practicing experienced masons.