reports from the site

Phloona means to blossom out

Eindrücke von der Baustelle Phoolna ("Aufblühen" auf deutsch) im Rahmen einer Fotoreportage im Lepradorf Little Flower in Sunderpur bei Raxaul/ Bihar im Norden Indiens an der Nepalesich-Indischen Grenze am Samstag, 21.02.2015

The latest pictures of the construction site, which will be completed by June! So are six apartments meant to serve as accommodation for new, qualified teachers, and a common room, the Community Hall, which is now still under construction. In our meetings was discussed intensively, which could be the next project with “basehabitat”.

The students of „basehabitat“/Art University Linz

Eindrücke von der Baustelle Phoolna ("Aufblühen" auf deutsch) im Rahmen einer Fotoreportage im Lepradorf Little Flower in Sunderpur bei Raxaul/ Bihar im Norden Indiens an der Nepalesich-Indischen Grenze am Mittwoch,18.02.2015

I would also like to specially dedicate a post to the students, of their dynamism and colorfulness they bring into the life of the village and also into the everyday work.

The workers the students work together with in Little Flower, are entirely young men who were unemployed and children of leprous parents in the border region between India and Nepal. Alcohol and drugs, smuggling transactions at the border are very difficult factors influencing the village, unemployment and lack of prospects – as we know that in all regions of the world – the most fertile ground for slipping into crime and violence. –

Two weeks in Little Flower, February 2015

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While the students of Art University Linz / basehabitat spent five weeks building practice in Little Flower and thus initiated the last phase of the PHOOLNA project, which ushered the Community Hall in loam with bamboo construction, I was even accompanied by three traveling companions for a total of two weeks in the project.

It was an intense time, each marked by the most exciting, different perspectives, which Wonge Bergmann / Frankfurt

updates on the construction

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well it’s been a while… I didn’t give any update since our arrival. But work was going so fast and so well that I didn’t find the time to sit with my computer and sum it all up.

So where to start?!

arrived in Sunderpur

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And here we are again!
Everything worked out really well.

And already on the first day in Little Flower we started working on site. After a few preparations there we started the brick work. Since this work was going faster than we expected we decided to focus on the bamboo work. Also because Fatima –our bamboo expert – is here for a

news from the site

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I think the pictures tell the story pretty well…

Work is going really well in India. They are working on adobes, which should be dry until we arrive in February, and they are treating the freshly cut bamboo.
Furthermore the whole building has been plastered inside and outside!

First impressions on the site

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It’s almost been a week since I arrived in Sunderpur. I was welcomed warmly and felt back home immediately.
The next day I was already on site, which looks incredible. The impression which the building is now conveying is really impressive and I am not surprised at all that they call it “raja ka ghar” (house of the king). Honestly I am a little jealous of the teachers who will move in here.

review building practical in february 2014

One month later… Unbelievable how fast time is passing. I have the feeling as if I just came back, but it’s already been one month now. And we are thinking when to go to India the next time. But actually the deal is done: If they are finished with the to-do-list we left them we will come again.

But at first I would like to resume the impression from last February and March. It was a really intense and diversified stay!

When we arrived, Franz had been there already for more than a month and had started with the bamboo work. Therefore he could introduce us to the work on the construction site easily. Sebastian and me were showing the “newbies” around the village and tried to explain the story behind Little Flower to them. Now being here this was a lot easier than at university where we only talked theoretically about the hospital, the school and the village in general. Everybody was interested and curious and they didn’t understand why we didn’t start work immediately – we decided it would be better to really arrive at first. But it made me really happy to see how eager they were to start to work.

Well we started on Saturday. Thirst getting to know the team, discover how well or how at all to communicated with each other. And then we started to work. The first days we needed to organise ourselves and to find teams who could work together well, but then they really were good teams. One was working on the rafter, one on the roof with the pillars and the purlins and another one inside plastering the walls and designing the windows. Of course there were thousands of small tasks, which also had to be done, but those three were our main focus at first.

Slowly we got into a routine: At 7.30 we met for a morning circle, to talk about what has to be done and who will do it, around 10 am we had a chai-time and at 12 o’clock there was a lunch break with one hour to rest and then we worked until 4.30 pm and after the daily work was done we had a meeting with tea and snack (Samosa or Pakauda … mjam!). Then the evenings were free and we could do whatever we felt like: take a rest, go for a walk, go shopping into the city or visit a family. Every now and then I would give Hindi-lessons, with help from Laxman, one of the workers, who was have a blast listening to us. After dinner which was always served at 7 pm, we often sat at the fire place reflecting the days work and then we went to bed pretty early because we knew that we would have to get up around 6h to get breakfast.

But we also took some time for trips: Once we went to Varanasi for a weekend, the holiest city of India. It was also the first time for me and those ghats really are impressive: Every evening we walked along the water and the smooth light combined with the sound of the water tapping against the stairs creates a mystic atmosphere. And another time we went to Laxmanoa to have a picnic together with all the workers. We cooked great food and did some acrobatics and also relaxed of course. That was a really great Sunday.

We also were invited to a wedding, for which we all bought Saris and which was really exotic. So much glitter and glamour and lights and music, a gorgeous bride and a long queue of people behind the bridegroom when he arrived. Everything was completely chaotic and somehow it still worked well to follow all those rituals.

Also our “Richtfest” was awesome: a colourful mixture of Austrian tradition with Indian flavour. We had a “tree” which was actually bamboo and they brought ribbons out of flowers to hang on the now finished roof. And then they made us help them with lifting the tree and while we were helping them from below suddenly a bucket full of colours was emptied on our heads. When everybody was coloured we met for a “Völkerball” competition on the field and then we played tug-of-war and it was an amazing afternoon.

Time passed really fast and for me it was really beautiful to see how friendships came into being. Our guys are so warm hearted and open, you will just have to like them. Therefore saying goodbye was even tougher at the end of the five weeks we spent together. But in the evening before the departure we had a really nice celebration with food and huge sound system. And sitting together beside the fireplace until dawn was breaking…

I didn’t tell anybody that I had changed my flight ticket to surprise them. So the day of the departure I took some pillows into my backpack and brought it to the bus, telling the driver I would need to add something later on so he should not put it on the roof of the vehicle yet. As soon as everybody sat in the car – I was saying them goodbye secretly in the morning – and the driver started the engine, I approached Kabita to ask her, if it was fine for me to stay another two weeks. I think at first she didn’t take me seriously but when I said I am honest, she said she was as well. So I unloaded my luggage while everybody was staring at me in disbelief. Suddenly Abdul burst into laughter and hugged me. But then he was like: you will leave with Motilal on the bike later, right? And when I denied he and the others finally were really happy. And I was glad that I took the decision to stay some more days. I really wanted to prepare the time we wouldn’t be there as good as possible.

And that’s what I did during the next days: I was drawing plans, printing pictures, was discussing plans with them, took field measurements of the building, wrote manuals in English, which I translated with Laxman into Hindi. The to-do-list Sebastian made with me before he left, I revised with the workers, translated it as well and made a timetable together with them according to the single steps of procedure. Again and again I asked if there is anything, which needs explanation and what they will need to be able to continue properly also when they are working alone.

And all of the sudden the two weeks were over. I think time has never passed this fast in my whole life. Somehow I still had the feeling I wasn’t able to cover every detail and every question, but over all I had a good impression. And knowing that I will come back as soon as the work on the to-do-list will be done, made it even easier to say goodbye.

I left via Nepal where I spent five great days with Costanza and Maria and suddenly I was back home. Well “suddenly”!? The travel was a torture because we were stranded in Delhi for 24h. The reason: Our first plane left late from Kathmandu and we missed our connection flight. Well it’s past now.

And now watching the construction work from Austria and to see how good and autonomous they work, and especially how fast it is going, it is… indescribable. I could laugh, shout out loud and cry because I am so happy, every time Motilal uploads new pictures on facebook. We are in touch frequently: every Saturday I meet Motilal on Skype to talk about the work and the progress which we can see on the pictures and Mondays we have a video conference with everybody, which also students from the practical join, which motivates us all a lot every time.

I have a good impression, the progress on the construction site is good, the guys are motivated and here in Austria we are planning our next journey to see them all again! =)

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construction work is going well

On site everything is going well. Since our deadline is the 31st of August, they are hurrying up. The beams above the windows designed by Hannes are also being used now. I have to do a lot of organization, about how to continue when we leave again. I am trying to build up a structure, with which communication can work better. And i also want to try to find training possibilities for the time we are not here. Let’s see how things will work out!

Firmelenge Little Flower

Saying goodbye…

 

That was a difficult goodbye. All tough the last days were really nice – once we had Austrian Knödel and the other night we had Samosas and Momos. And then at the 20th nearly all the workers dropped us at the train station. But that didn’t make it easier. If you have to fight the tears yourself and then see your opposite doing the same, you just want to hop on the train and hide until it’s over – at least that’s what I wanted to do. And then they all kept saying that we shouldn’t leave… I was seriously considering changing my flight. But there is the promise in the air to meet soon again. Just a sort stop at home saying hello to everybody and then back to the construction site?!

We met Hannes also a student at our university in Delhi and told him with high recommendations to go to the village. It there is time he really wants to go to see Little Flower. He just finished his diploma and was already involved in many projects abroad, so he would be the perfect “Ersatz” at the construction site. Also if he only wants to helf and not decide, he can for sure help them if there are any questions arising.

The last day we could see how they put our “shingles” on the roof above the container, I just had to help and dirtied all my best clothes. But it was worth it, when you could stand in the cooling shade and flee from the hot midday sun. I have a great feeling when I think about them working alone. But I would really love to be part of it…

Hereby I am closing the regularly news from the construction site from Little Flower. I hope they will keep us up to date and as soon as someone is going back the file “Sunderpur” will be reopened.

It was an indescribable experience for me – so full of emotions and things to learn. It helped me a lot in my own “Entwicklung”. And I really want to thank the team on the construction site, from whose I have learnt the most on so many different levels.

By(e) Iris

The last day of work

Today was the last day of working on the site… We will also be there on Monday and Tuesday but today we „handed over“ the responsibility to Motilal.

One team went to Laxmanoa, since yesterday no one from our team went there we also wanted to check how the work is going over there without us. The result is great: first day 133 bricks, second 247, third (when they were alone) 223 and today 118 – it was only a half day because in the afternoon we had our final theory class. That makes a total of 721 – we calculated that we will need about 6000 bricks for the third flat.

In the theory class we were talking about the second Laurie Baker book „Houses – how to reduce building costs“, we made some tests with the Adobes we produced before we went to Nepal and we were making a review of the time we spent together. We also gave them a little good-bye present: the books from Laurie Baker printed, a set of screwdrivers, a measure, a pen and some sweets. We will also leave a Camera in Little Flower for the team to make a documentation of the progress when we are not here.

It is very hard to say goodbye after this intense time we spent together. Also now there is a great base to work with. They know what to do, we have the tools from the container and the weather is better. So I (we) wish them all the best of luck and a good time while we are not here… I am sure we will all come back sometime.

The next days we will use to say goodbye to the village and just enjoy the life here. (And also talk a little bit about the construction site and questions that might appear 😉 )

by(e) Iris

roof and tools

Since a few days we now have tools and electricity on site. It is amazing how fast things are going now!

We started with a roof above the container to create an outer workspace and to test the construction for the roof for our house and it is going really well. See yourself:

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