Friday, March 13, 2015

       One of Habitat for Humanity Nepal’s current strategic goals is to improve the lives of 24,000 Ex-Kamaiya people by 2016. Under the Kamaiya system, which was abolished in the mid-2000s, thousands of Tharu worked as bonded laborers to repay debts owed by their ancestors.  After the Kamaiya system was banned, many Tharu households received land grants from the government. However, the ex-Kamaiya communities still face a variety of problems.  Houses are basic, small, and unhygienic, and often lack access to clean water. Furthermore, land plots are often too small for traditional farming techniques.

The Ghorahi Community Development Project seeks to improve living conditions for Tharu ex-Kamaiya households in the Dang District, in the Western Region of Nepal. The project began in February 2014, and will continue until January 2017.
The participants of the training sessions with the home partners 

Habitat for Humanity held two mason training session in the village of Masina in the Ghorahi Municipality in Dang. There were two training sessions, both of which took place in Masina. The first took place from February 23 through March 1, and the second began on February 25th and ended on March 4. Both sessions were well attended. The first session, which was sponsored by The Charitable Fund, had 33 participants, 28 of whom were women. The second, which was sponsored by Korean International Coperation Agency (KOICA) had 28 trainees, 21 of whom were women. Each session was also attended by several skilled masons, who helped train the participants.

These training sessions not only provided the participants with income generating skills, but also began construction on two houses for families in need. Bindyararani and Kaliprasad Chaudhary live in Masina with their two sons, Anup and Janak. They are seasonal farmers, but lease the land that they work on. They only own a small piece of land for their house, which was badly damaged during the monsoons last year. The heavy rains and the floods damaged the walls, and shifted the foundation enough that the whole house was tilted. 
Their neighbors, Juerani and Thaglal Chaudhary, also suffered similar problems. The walls of their house cracked due to the floods, which made the whole structure unstable.

The two families were in dire need of new homes, so that they could have a safe and sturdy place to live. Through the mason training, Habitat for Humanity Nepal was able to begin construct on these new homes, which were made of mud brick, with stone foundations. When complete, the houses will have two stories, as well as an attic.

The mason training took place over the course of a week. During this time, the participants learned how to construct a house step by step. They were taught construction techniques, how to use tools, and everything else that they needed to know in order to construct decent homes.  Every day began with an hour of theory, before the trainees went to the build site and learned from practical hands on experience.

On the first day, the participants learned how to create a foundation. They learned how to measure and dig a foundation, and on how deep it should be. They then went and dug and laid for the house. On the second day of training, the trainees laid two feet of stone masonry on the foundation, and then started laying bricks. They also created a mud floor on top of the foundation, and learned how to build a well.

Various stages in the construction process 

On the third day, the participants continued the brick work and placed window and door frames in the walls. They learned how to check if they were straight, as well as how to make a good quality mud mortar. They also began constructing a well, as access to clean water is vital for both preventing diseases and maintaining good sanitation.

The participants finished the well on the fourth day, and continued working on the brick walls. In addition, they learned to make bamboo scaffolding.  Work on the walls continued on the fifth day, where the participants also placed the timber beams that would serve as the base for the next floor.

The last two days of the program were spent finishing the first floor, and continuing to work on the second. On the final day of the program there was a certification ceremony for the participants. The participants in the KOICA session also received tools of their own, which surprised and delighted them.

HFH Nepal collected feedback from the participants, all of whom said they were very happy with the training. They were all excited to apply the skills that they had learned, and many of them said that they would help their neighbors and relatives with masonry problems.


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