From the Ground Up

The very first week we were in Nepal, Cameron and I took a workshop on earthbag building and met Michael, Lucas, and Justin, three guys who were planning to build earthbag houses in Nepal in the near future. Back then, it was only a far-off idea that we might volunteer with them one day. But things serendipitously worked out as they often do in Nepal, and on the 10th of November, we did end up joining their earthbag build in Ghyampesal, Gorkha! Their project began as a 21-day earthbag building workshop put on by the PermaculTourism Initiative and Woven Earth to build one square earthbag house and one circular.

Arriving in Ghyampesal about 17 days into the workshop, we entered into an environment full of people that had been learning, doing, and living earthbag building for the past two and a half weeks. It was an amazing place for us to come into with an open mind and soak up as much information as possible! We were able to get hands-on experience in many parts of the earthbag process, including soil mixing, bag laying, tamping, leveling, barbed wire laying, and mixing, testing, and applying earthen plaster. We got to try things that we never would be able to back home, from carrying 16 ft bamboo pieces up through a mountain jungle, to carrying baskets of dirt on our back using traditional Nepali headstraps. There was a lot of physical manual labor, and it mixed well with the constant input of new, intellectually stimulating ideas and concepts, providing a great workout for both our bodies and minds. Additionally, we got to work and interact with the incredibly knowledgeable, diverse, interesting group of workshop participants, constantly building experience and connections that will be very helpful for our own project. Overall, volunteering with this earthbag project in Ghyampesal taught us more than we could’ve ever imagined, giving us the practical experience we were missing before, as well as solidifying and supplementing the theoretical framework we already had. Even more imoprtant than all that, we got to meet to really cool people that I’m happy to call friends now! After this experience, Cameron and I are both super excited to begin working on CCF’s own earthbag project!

Click here to see more pictures of the earthbag houses in Ghyampesal!

While we were in Ghyampesal, the wheels were turning back in Kathmandu and Spokane on CCF’s own earthbag project in Baseri. For this project, CCF is partnering with Good Earth Nepal (GEN), an organization that is at the forefront of earthbag technology and building in Nepal. GEN is providing technical support for the two room, one story home we will build, meaning they will supply us with technical designs, a list of necessary materials, and an experienced supervisor to oversee the build. A GEN engineer traveled to Baseri last week to inspect the site for the house and he determined that it is suitable. Unfortunately, the soil at the site is not ideal for earthbag, so we will have to hire people to carry dirt from another nearby location to the house, which will add some extra labor and costs to the project. But hey, it’s a remote Nepali village – if you’re looking for ideal conditions, you’re looking in the wrong place. We should receive the technical design and materials list from GEN within the next few days, at which point we can buy all the materials! Along with the project materials, CCF has purchased 162 large, warm blankets for about $14.81 apiece to take to the people of Baseri for this winter. Once all these materials are obtained, we will head up to Baseri and the project is projected to begin on December 1st!

In a post a few weeks ago, I mentioned CCF partnering with the wholesale company Everest Hardwear to provide 100 jackets and 50 hats to the village of Thugman, Rasuwa. With the help of Ram Karki, all that high-quality winter clothing was delivered to the village and distributed to the Nepali people. Now Ram has returned and shared some pictures of the beautiful people of Thugman! Thank you to Ram, Everest Hardware, and Mingmar of Thugman for making this possible.

Aside from all the work we’ve been doing, we tried to set aside some time for fun in Kathmandu! My 19th birthday was on Sunday the 22nd, so we planned to take the day off and do fun things around town like getting massages, eating cake, and seeing a movie. That was the plan. What really happened was both Cameron and I got food poisoning from something we ate the night before, so we spent most of the afternoon curled up in bed and occasionally throwing up. Not exactly what we had planned! But truthfully, I’m not upset that the day turned out like that. Everything we had planned to do can easily be moved to another day, and I’m just thankful that we are both recovering and feeling a lot better now! As I’ve seen over and over again in Nepal, things pretty much never go as planned. Instead of getting hung up on things that go off course, all you can do is go with the flow and make the most of what does happen!

If there’s any information you would like to know about the work we have been doing or do in the future, please leave a comment and we will do our best to answer as fully as we can. We love to hear your questions and feedback! Thank you!