Flood Houses and Generational Transformation
Our work in Nepal is ongoing, so much so that spare time to update the blog has been sparse. Here is a brief look into one of the projects we have been working on over the past few years!
During the monsoon season in July and August, flooding becomes a severe issue for the people of Far West Nepal. Floods in 2008 and 2009 were called “once in a hundred years” floods, destroying houses, food supplies, livestock, and killing many. The casualties and severity of these yearly floods demanded a long term solution.
In response, we have developed platform buildings, which are raised off the ground and can be used as community buildings and flood shelters. The community leaders have been encouraged to keep food, water, and other supplies in the buildings so that they can be used as shelters when the need, and waters, arise.
Each building is unique to the community it serves. Some of the buildings have walls of bamboo and grass, while the others have mud or brick walls. The height of the building also varies by community. Since every village experiences flooding differently, each building must serve that need adequately. Our philosophy is to measure how high the floods typically go in that area and then add a couple feet as insurance. Some of the buildings are as high as six feet, and others are between two and three feet off the ground.
The building process is simple: we provide the upfront costs of the raw materials for the foundation and structure, and the local community provides the rest. That’s it. The cost upfront is a one-time donation, and the labor, the materials for things like walls and furnishing, and the upkeep is provided by the community. Generally, the community also provides the land on which to build, but, in some cases, we have had to step in to offset skyrocketing land costs. This strategy not only creates jobs, but it also gives the community a sense of pride and ownership of the building. They built it. It is theirs, and they will take care of it as such. These buildings serve as a tangible symbol of the partnership between us and the local communities.
This process of building has led to one of the clearest examples of generational transformation that we have seen. Back in 1999, Rajesh was one of the first slaves that Marian redeemed. Rajesh now makes the blocks for the buildings, using molds made in India. He has a meaningful job that allows him not only to support himself but also to be involved in his community. Rajesh is able to teach others how to build the blocks, which creates more jobs, and better buildings for communities, down the line.
Rajesh’s son, Ramjunum, was one of the young men we sent to Goa, India for vocational training back in 2009. He is now a welder and does all of the welding on the flood buildings while employing two or three other men. Ramjunum makes enough money to provide for his family and even has a motor bike. His children are educated at Grace School and may even go to University.
A father and son, working together, providing for their families. A former slave gets to watch his son provide for his family in ways he wouldn’t have dared to dream and may even see his grandchildren graduate from University.
This is our dream, to see lives changed and hope emerge, one generation at a time.