Back from Nepal

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Now I’ve been back from Nepal for almost four weeks. The last weeks in Nepal I mainly worked on the manual for the roof construction. It took some time to understand all the steps involved and to explain them properly. The work was further slowed down because one of the leech bites I had got became infected and inflamed so I ended up with a hurting, swollen leg and fever. I got loads of medicines which helped well against the infection but made me feel sick. Since I was already weakened I managed to catch a cold as well. Still I succeeded in finishing my part of the manual in time before we left. What remains now is for Build Up Nepal to change what they think is necessary to change and then to print it. I look forward to see the finished version!

It was a bit of a pity that in the end we didn’t get much time to explore Nepal, to travel around the country and go hiking. Maybe I’ll go to Nepal again some day and do that. During the last days before the flight back to Sweden, partially due to the fact that I was sick, I felt pretty tired of the humid heat, the spicy and fatty restaurant food, all the noise and confusion. So back in Gothenburg I was happy about the calm, about the freshness of the air, about all the green leaves everywhere, which were so bright and green and not covered in dust. I also appreciated all the space and large distances between things now, even if I had really liked how crammed together everything was in Nepal. I had found it exciting and practical: grocery store, book store, bank, restaurants, places yet to discover, etc., etc. all within five minutes walk. But the larger distances in Gothenburg made it feel more peaceful.

What mainly remains of the Nepal-project now is to finish the thesis linked to it and some smaller things. The last few weeks I’ve had to focus on a math exam and preparing for moving to another part of Gothenburg. I’ve also traveled to Vienna for one week in order to meet my family and friends and I’ll be working in the army quite a bit in September. But I’ll be focusing on the Nepal-project again as soon as possible.

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This is where we would eat breakfast most mornings.
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View from the roof of our hotel
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To Build a Roof

 

We would see her in front of her house as we reached the little village in the alps after hiking up the mountain. All the houses were abandoned except for hers. It was a typical mountain house, built of stone and wood that was darkened by all the years. Onions and garlic, I think it was, would be hanging to dry from the roof. Chickens would be running around the narrow dirt streets of the village. There weren’t any motor vehicles. The old lady had no teeth left and her face had countless wrinkles. A scarf would be covering her gray hair in an old-fashioned manner. She would talk for a long time with my mom, while the water splashed melodically from the small village fountain, just close by, that probably had been the main source of water in the village for many years.

When she was younger everybody in the area must have lived more or less like her. Then life wasn’t very different from how it is, nowadays, in a small village in Nepal.

We got to the village of Lishanku as it was already dark and after having traveled for most of the day. The last two hours the road had only been a, not so very smooth, dirt road. Still, incredibly enough, I had managed to fall asleep several times in the car. There weren’t many motor vehicles in the area. The air felt cleaner and less dusty than in most other places where I had been in Nepal, where big trucks would be passing through continuously. The temperature was cooler and much more pleasant too, although the air felt very humid.

After having unloaded all the construction materials we got our sleeping places. The engineers and metal workers shared room but I was the only female and so I got a room for myself on a height a bit above most other houses. It was dark as I got there but in the morning I had a wonderful view.

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We were in Lishanku to build the roof for a prototype CSEB house. As the works were about to start we had a couple of problems. First someone in the village had bought the wrong materials. Then it turned out that the villagers that were supposed to participate in the work, and learn how a roof should be built, weren’t going to be there after all since they had to work on their fields at the moment. The engineers didn’t seem to make such big deal of these things though. The roof was going to be built anyway. Because of the lack of villagers we worked ourselves. I helped a little too and learnt that things that seemed simple weren’t as easy as they looked. Soon the work was up to the metal workers though and my role was – again – to take photos, film, observe and ask questions. For much of the time I didn’t have much to do so I would take walks, read and study. Sometimes it was impossible to study as the children from the farm thought I was very interesting. They stared at me and whatever I was doing and tried to get my attention. Sometimes it was a little frustrating but they were such funny and very cute little combinations of curiosity, liveliness and shyness. Especially one of the little girls liked to follow me around. She would sometimes go to the village in the morning or visit some friends in neighboring farms and as I walked to the construction site she would see me on the road and run up to me and walk with me.

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The metal workers worked well, with precision. They balanced around like cats though, walking with their flip-flops on top of the narrow walls, the ridge and rafters, many meters above the ground. They didn’t seem to find it the least unpleasant and would walk around, work and talk up there as if it was nothing.

When we weren’t at the construction site mostly we would be in some kind of small restaurant, belonging to the woman who was also renting the rooms to us. It was a very small place with a kitchen and three tables, all crammed together. The wooden walls were papered with newspaper sheets. There were things anywhere where there could be anything. There was also an old bird nest over the two doors and in the evening swallows would sleep on hanging wires under the low roof, just above our heads. Also two chickens would sleep on a bag of rice along the wall. Sometimes a dog would sleep under a table. There would be many villagers there too. Old men and women in traditional clothes, eating a little and drinking the traditional alcoholic beverage while chatting.

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The woman who owned the place would serve us large portions of food. Since the people at the construction site also gave us food, and since I didn’t want to be rude and not finish everything, at the end of the day I would feel kind of nauseating. At least until I learnt to be very clear about wanting less rice. Even then I was far from starving. The food was almost always dalbhat. It was not very spicy at all, which I was happy about. The curry was separate so one could mix it with the rest one self. The woman who cooked would often try to talk to me and laughed when I didn’t understand, or when I finally did. Sometimes it would rain outside as we sat there in the evening. It would be cozy to listen to the rain outside, falling through the darkness, while we were sitting in the warmth and weak light.

 

 

It must be have been strange, for someone from the village, to visit Kathmandu for the first time, to see a place with so many people and buildings and so little nature when one was used to being in an environment where one knew everyone, where there were but a few motor vehicles and there was green nature everywhere.

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One day, as there wasn’t much we needed to do at the construction site while the metal workers did their job, me and the engineers went on a little hike. Our goal was a large eroded landslide-area. One of the largest in Nepal I was told. First we tried to go there by car but the dirt roads, which had newly been dug in the mountain side, were too bad even for our very experienced driver. They had collapsed on many places. So we continued by foot.

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The narrow path went up and down through the forest. Down to a little valley and then up on the other side. The superior sense of balance of the Nepalis made it hard for me to keep up with them on the way down. Uphill I caught up. I encountered yet another thing that was new to me: leeches. Some stretches were full with them. I thought that they only lived in swamps but this proved to be wrong. They clung to my boots, in not so small numbers, and then climbed all the way up to my legs. They did this very quickly too. During the whole day five or six of them managed to attach themselves and suck my blood. It didn’t hurt but it kept bleeding for a little while afterwards.

We reached our destination which had a great view indeed and was next to a beautiful little village.

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Don’t blink!

On the way back we took another path. The “normal path” between the villages which a lot of people took several times a day, even children. It started to rain. It was very steep down on one side of the path and the rain made the ground very slippery. When we got down to the valley there was a stream that we had to cross. First there was a narrow ledge. I stopped caring about spiders and leeches and held on tight to any vegetation protruding from the crevices in the cliff. After the ledge there were four big round boulders out in the water. A couple of long and narrow wood planks led from the last boulder to the shore. All in all it wasn’t worse than some stream-crossings in the Swedish mountains but everything was so wet and slippery. The others helped me a bit by holding my hand. It was a bit embarrassing but I was thankful still. Then we continued up the other mountain on tired legs. The path led us straight to the construction site. Everything was going well there.

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The next day the plan was to be finished with all the work and maybe go back home but it rained the whole afternoon so the work couldn’t proceed. It was too dangerous to walk on top of the walls and rafters in that weather. Even Nepalis took that much safety precautions. Apparently they didn’t COMPLETELY lack sense of danger.

Another night at the village.

The next day I used my last change of underwear. I also finished my alcogel, disinfection wipes and almost all my toilet paper. Clothes could be washed in case we had to stay there longer. It wouldn’t be too complicated except for the trousers since I had brought only one pair. There probably wasn’t much to do about alcogel and toilet paper. I would have to surrender my European ways and do like all the villagers: use hand and water instead of toilet paper.

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It was a clear and sunny day and in the distance, for the first time, one could see the jagged and sharp profile of very tall and snow covered mountains. There was almost no electricity in the village that day and the petrol for the generator was finished. It looked like we would have to stay another night. But then petrol was found and the works could continue. All the roof sheets were put in place very fast now that the welding was done.

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The long travel back could begin. We took another road. There was a little more traffic there I think. One stretch was still under construction, or reconstruction, so we had to wait while an excavator dug it in the side of the mountain. In front of us a pickup, similar to ours, was waiting as well. The passengers were all western volunteers. As we continued the volunteers got more and more. There were a lot of villages along the road as well. Some of the areas that we drove past looked as if they had been severely affected by the earthquake since most of the houses were very simple ones, made of corrugated metal sheets or wooden boards.

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It was getting dark as we reached the outskirts of Katmandu. There was a lot of traffic as always, a lot of people, lights and advertisements. The city was bustling and mysterious in the darkness. I was starting to have a headache however because of tiredness, continuous noise and too many interesting details everywhere. One by one our driver dropped us off as we got home. I was the last one. Finally I got off as well. I was happy to see my hotel room again, to shower of all the dust and go to bed.

 

 

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My room was in that building
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The staircase to the toilet. I did my best to avoid having to go there at night.

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Halfway

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Half of our time in Nepal has passed. I went to another village where Build Up Nepal was training the villagers to build walls. The training seemed well structured and clear and the villagers seemed enthusiastic to learn. The weather was still warm and dusty although it rained more frequently. The rain caused landslides so we had to drive different roads to the construction site on different days. There was also a small landslide at the edge of the construction site which forced the villagers to move some of the stored blocks. I have the impression that there isn’t much solid in these areas of Nepal that we have visited. These mountains are large and steep piles of mud with only loose rocks inside of them. It’s one of the most landslide-prone areas of the world.

Still, even if the rain caused problems like landslides, it made the landscapes look different. It got very fresh and green right after it had rained and the air felt cleaner.

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Back at our hotel in Patan I’ve been working on the thesis and on an instruction video about the wall training. Halfway through the video-editing process I had to switch to a new editing software. Having to learn the new program made the video-making  drag out and take more time than I had hoped it would take. On our free time we’ve been to the Swayambhunath temple which is up on a hill overlooking the city. It’s filled with prayer flags and a large population of holy monkeys. We also went to the cinema and saw Transformers. I didn’t find the movie that great but the commercials were. There were commercials for four different brands of concrete, featuring everything from super models and football players to a group of monks who could create roads through prayers.

I also dyed my hair for the first time in my life and read books. I’ve bought three books by Nepali authors: the bestseller Palpasa Cafe by Narayan Wagle, Unlikely Storytellers by Bikash Sangruala and City of Dreams by Pranaya SJB Rana which attracted me in the bookshop partially because the excerpt on the back reminded me a little of one of my own blog entries. This far I’ve only finished reading Palpasa Cafe and some of the short-stories in City of Dreams. Palpasa Cafe is about an artist who falls in love and returns to the areas where he grew up only to find them changed by the civil war. There were several things that I didn’t like that much but all in all it was alright and it gave me new perspectives about the country I’m in. The few stories from City of Dreams which I have read have been good but I’ve read too little to be able to express an opinion on the work as a whole. By the way the bookshop is right next to where we live and really nice and cosy. It’s small but crowded with books of every kind.

It’s raining more and more and the weather is getting cooler. If the roads are good enough, in spite of the rain, and everything else goes according to plan then I’m heading out to another village on Thursday in order to observe the roof training.

 

Patan Durbar Square. Several of the temples and monuments are still being restored after the earthquake. Some collapsed entirely.

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19490082_10209269492923286_1923810376_o.jpgAll the trucks are as colorful as this one. Often even more colorful.

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Patan

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I’ve started dreaming of this city. Or is it this city that is like the cities in my dreams? As confused and intricate, with half-finished buildings and others that are very old, dark and mysterious. A beautiful detail here, just an abstract outline of a building there like a dream vision that isn’t really complete when you examine it closely.

This is a city from a fantasy novel, where you can get lost in the countless narrow, shadow-wrapped and dirty streets between old houses. Where you find temples hidden in corners and small shops that sell all kinds of items. Where the lights of small restaurants dissipate from basement windows and music mixes itself with voices.

This is a city from a sci-fi movie with layer upon layer, where old and new meet, where ugliness meets beauty, where you can find anything your mind can come up with. Nothing is what you expect it to be. It’s a busy city, with motor vehicles everywhere. Colorful advertisements and signs adorn worn facades all around.

 

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Vertical World

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Bumpy roads, meandering through mountain landscapes, lead us to the village. Small houses cling to steep mountain sides. Corn grows on fields that are more vertical than horizontal. Here on this slope, far from the peak of the mountain and far from the valley, people live their lives.

We’ve traveled here to observe Build Up Nepal’s training of the villagers and part of the construction of an earthquake resistant house. As we arrive they are making blocks. A mixture of earth and concrete goes in, a block comes out. A villager lifts out the block, blows away the dust that’s left on the surface and puts the block where the other ones are. Looks easy enough. But when we try it it’s hard to get a good grip. The block is heavy and as soon as you put your fingers too far out then the edges break and the whole block has to be scrapped. The new blocks are very frail. It will take almost a month until they are ready to be used.

Then we observe as they bend and place rebars on the foundation of the house that they are building. They get instructions as they work. We film, take pictures and ask questions.

Unfamilar bacterias and food has made most of us a bit sick by now. I felt worse a while before, really weak and sick, but now I’m feeling better. Hoda, whom I’m working on the project with, got sick a little bit later and is at the worst stage. Also no one of us has eaten since breakfast and the travel has been long so we’re all pretty tired. We sit down to rest and look at the landscape. The mountains are so large. There is a big difference in altitude between valleys and peaks which makes their size much more impressive. And they are completely covered in forest, cultivations and villages from top to bottom.

After a while the nice villagers put a foam rubber mat for us in the shadow of what looks like a banana tree and bring us some food. Beaten rice and cauliflower curry. We rest there almost until it’s time to leave.

In late afternoon they help us look for somewhere to stay. It turns out to be hard. We are told that there are school exams and all the children of the area are in the village now, occupying all the rooms. When it’s already dark we finally find two free rooms in a simple house with an unfinished upper floor. The family brings us some dal bhat which tastes excellent.

In the night some of us sleep bad because of mosquitoes and other insects making noise and being annoying but I sleep well almost the whole night.

In the morning Hoda still isn’t feeling very well so she leaves with our driver who is heading back to Kathmanu.

We hike up the mountain to the construction site which takes about half an hour. It’s raining a little but it’s still hot and we’re soon covered in sweat. The work at the construction site isn’t supposed to start until 10 so we hike and explore some more.

At the construction site they are still making bricks and also tying the rebars together. The engineer from Build Up Nepal is at another construction site that is too far away for us to walk to now but he says that he will be where we are in 20 minutes. After one and a half hour he still hasn’t been able to leave the other place so we hike back to the larger village and find a little dusty restaurant to eat lunch. At the restaurant they don’t speak English but we order dal bhat which is one of the two dishes we know the name of.

After lunch we explore the village a little. On the roads colorful trucks and busses travel. Their horns sound as funny as the vehicles look. Besides being very loud they are also musical and they are used all the time, constantly.

The engineer from Build Up Nepal is still stuck at the other place. We decide that there is nothing left for us to see at the construction site today so we walk down towards the guest house again. Back there we meet the engineer who is heading up the mountain now on his scooter.

We haven’t got much else to do today. We explore the area around the guest house and chat with a boy from the family who owns the guest house. He is the only one who seems to know English and is happy to talk to us. He wants to be a civil engineer in the future.

We are thinking of going back to Kathmandu but it’s 3 o clock in the afternoon and the last bus has already left.

In the night I have dreams about spiders. I can’t get rid of them so I turn on the light and see a really pretty large spider at the foot of my bed.

I knew it! I think.

It’s the same kind of spider as I saw in Togo. Probably related to the ones we have in our basement in Sweden as well, just a bit larger. Sooner or later one had to show up. I was just waiting for it to happen.

I take on my clothes and leave the room. At least I don’t panic too much, just hurry to put some distance between myself and the unpleasant creature.

It runs around the whole room at and amazing speed. Then it finds the exit to the corridor and runs along the corridor towards the front door. It doesn’t seem to be happy about how light it suddenly got in the room.

Eventually I go back to my bed and sleep a bit more with all my clothes on.

The next morning we meet the engineer from Build Up Nepal who answers our questions from the previous day regarding the construction. Then he helps us get on the right bus.

Another long, warm and dusty journey begins.

 

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The place where we stayed

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We got a flat tire on our way home. Luckily it was right in a small city.

Wild and Lively

 

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So we got to Kathmandu.

From the taxi we could see what a lively, chaotic city it was. It reminded a bit of Lomé in Togo. As chaotic, as unorganized, almost as bad streets. But Lomé mostly had small houses while here the houses were tall, very narrow and squeezed together, giving the city a much more urban character. The houses grew from the ground like trees in a forest. Many had beautiful facades, built of bricks with intricate wooden details. Such a contrast that such art should exist in the middle of the chaos!

I didn’t feel that overwhelming and unreal feeling I felt when arriving in Togo, which is quite common to feel when you visit a developing and very distant country for the first time and which the three other people with me definitely seemed to be experiencing. I felt that it matched my expectations well enough, although I found it to be somehow more exciting than I had imagined. I couldn’t stop smiling. Kathmandu was full of details and things to explore in every corner. An untame city.

Modern city landscapes in industrialized countries are often designed in order to be easy to understand, to create a simpler and controlled reality, the likes one cannot find in nature. Few details, straight lines, clean surfaces. One designs building to be beautiful yes, but still simple, so that ones surrounding shouldn’t necessitate much attention, nor much imagination, to understand, so that one can think of other things. So one can feel calmer too I suppose. It’s less tiring to walk around in such cities. Definitely. But a city like Katmandu makes you feel alive, makes you conscious of things, feelings one might mostly experience in nature where I come from. One of them is the balance between life and death (especially knowing that the city is in a seismic zone, prone to strong earthquakes). People go on living, eating, sleeping, laughing, crying, doing the laundry, giving birth and dying. Kathmandu goes on being lively, in spite of the big threat that looms upon it. And I also experience a feeling, that I do feel at home too but more strong here, of how many other individuals, not very different from me, there are on this planet.

The taxi couldn’t find the hotel. He didn’t seem to be able read the map on google very well nor did he know much English. From time to time he stopped to ask passers-by for the way. This mostly ended in long discussions. He passed the narrow entrance to our hotel but nobody of us noticed the small sign so he kept driving. When we finally got back and we found the hotel the whole taxi trip had taken us 2,5 hours.

During the following days we have explored the area a little, been at the office and discussed what we’re going to do. Turns out the office is moving closer to our hotel on Monday. Lucky coincidence but a bit frustrating that we hadn’t been told in advance.
We’re going to a village next week, to get a first look at how Build up Nepal works.

We’ve also had time to further explore the area, eat some local food (often served in large amounts with the consequence that I’ve constantly been feeling like I’ve eaten too much) and gone to the cinema in a shopping centre close to where we live. The shopping centre is oddly modern compared to everything around it.

Kathmandu is a pretty good place to go shopping. In contrast to Togo (when I was there) it’s not hard to find most things you might want to buy, from electronics to cloths. The prices are mostly low to very low. There are also quite a few book shops, also with books in English, so I’ll have to explore them one of these days.

This is probably one of the most interesting, challenging and personally developing things I’ve done. It feels good to be outside of Europe, in a distant country, for a long period again. It’s been four years since Togo already. Four years full of things happening, but non the less four years of life in industrialized, and relatively similar areas of the world, mostly in Europe.

However I also feel a little sadness at being so far away from friends and family, all the people that I love. There are so many mountains, seas, cities and other people between me and those who mean the most to me. So strange. At least with internet it’s easier to keep in touch.

 

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Project Entry 3 – Two weeks left

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Since the last blog entry we’ve kept working on the project plan for Engineers Without Borders and the thesis statement for our university. They both seem to be good enough at least. We have kept planning everything from accommodation in Nepal to what information we need to gather once we are there. What is the best way of teaching villagers the factors that make a construction resistant to earthquakes? Do they need to understand that or is it enough for them to learn how to build the buildings step by step? We need to look into questions as how cultural differences affect communication, what methods of communication are already being used during construction processes and if they can be used in Nepal. How can better communication make the construciton process more efficient? How could technology be used? How can misunderstandings be avoided?

We have finally bought flight tickets, something that took us a lot more time than it ought to have. Since Kathmandu isn’t the most common destination it was a bit challenging to find a combination of flights that was cheap, fairly direct, avoided stops of too many hours at airports on the way, allowed the most luggage possible, was on ok dates, with reasonable times of arrival, from reliable flight companies and so on. There were few tickets left and some of the best and cheapest sold out. To make things more difficult everyone has been really busy during this period. I’ve been in Vienna and Italy to visit friends and relatives for one and a half week since I won’t have the opportunity to do so during summer, then I was in the military for almost three weeks. I also still had things to do for the nomination committee in the evenings, when I was free from the military. Then it was unclear if we would have to change our planned travel dates a little in order to get a certain stipend. So it was a relief when the tickets had been bought at last, even if that meant staying up late and losing valuable sleep the evening before heading out in the forest with the military for a weekend of marching with heavy loads, without much food and a night in a spruce-branch shelter.

We’ll leave Sweden on the 13th of June. That day is not far away now but there are still quite a few things to be done here before the travel so I tend to think more about that and not so much about the fact that we’ll soon be on our way. That still doesn’t feel so real. Once in Nepal we will travel to the villages to observe the construction processes, take pictures, film and interview. A lot of online research still has to be done as well. We plan to create instruction manuals and an instructional video. We need a video camera for that part so if someone could lend us one it would be very appreciated!

You can also still contribute to the project by donating to our fundraising campaign here: https://www.gofundme.com/projects-for-build-up-nepal  All donations are very welcome!

Project entry 2 – Fundraising

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As I wrote recently I’m working on a project for Build Up Nepal. If you missed the post: https://theothertrain.wordpress.com/2017/03/02/projects/

Build up Nepal is an NGO that helps Nepalese villagers rebuild their homes in simple but earthquake-resistant ways (http://www.buildupnepal.com/). We will be making manuals and instructional videos which describe the construction process, as well as look for other ways of conveying knowledge about how to build earthquake-resistant buildings to the villagers. A parallel project will be looking into how the construction process itself of Build up Nepal can be made more efficient. Although they are two different projects we are working together quite a lot.

Now we have started fundraising and anyone can contribute. Even small donations are very appreciated!

The campaign page: gofundme.com/projects-for-build-up-nepal

You’re welcome to ask any questions about the projects or the fundraising campaign.

I will be posting updates about the projects regularly here in my blog.

Conscription – reintroduced

 

So now conscription has been reintroduced in Sweden, for both men and women. It is pretty much the system which I was hoping for (https://theothertrain.wordpress.com/2015/09/16/test/). However I don’t think it will be a drastic change. The number of conscripted soldiers will be low for now. It’s still mainly the people who want to serve that will serve and it seems like we will still have professional soldiers too. The big difference is that 18-year olds will be called to the tests to see if they are fit for service (but mainly if they showed interest to serve in the online test that everyone has to take) and that once you start your training you can’t just quit because you don’t feel like continuing.

Strangely, in spite of all, it still feels a little bit sad too that the short period a completely professional military in Sweden is coming to an end. After all it is the military in which I have served, which I have experienced, this far. We will be but a tinny group of people who have experienced this period soon. And several of the people who I got to know in the military, they might not have been there if it had been a conscripted army. Or we wouldn’t have met. Not in the same circumstances anyway. I suppose it’s just a human thing to feel something, from time to time, when familiar things change.

But on the whole I welcome this  and look forward to see how things develope.

 

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Projects

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Although I haven’t been writing here for a while I’ve been writing more on my story project. My goal is for it to be finished before next summer so I focus more on it than on my blog at the moment. However, hopefully, my blog will still see a bit more activity from my part pretty soon. Especially this summer.

I’m on my last semester of the Construction Engineering program at Chalmers university. I have three new courses. One is Production Management where we get to write contracts and make charts for the construction process of a mall. The second one is House Construction where we learn about bricks and have to design a terrace house. And we did a study trip to Vienna. Who says no to a study trip home? Maaaaybe I did partially chose the course for that. I love irony. Seeing both my Swedish classmates and Austrian friends in the same place was a little strange. But fun too. And I got to see the city from a new perspective, see things I hadn’t seen before and learn new things about buildings which I didn’t know much about earlier.

Now to the main thing I wanted to write about. As I said, a while ago, I was going to talk more about my thesis. For my thesis I’ve started a project for Engineers Without Boarders and the organization Build Up Nepal. Build up Nepal is an NGO that helps Nepalese villagers rebuild their homes in simple but earthquake-resistant ways (http://www.buildupnepal.com/). It’s almost since summer that I’ve been working on getting the project going. It was pretty hard in the beginning. I had never done anything similar before. I talked to a lot of people who told me to talk to a lot of people who told me to talk to people with whom I had already talked. And after all this talking I still hadn’t got anywhere and I didn’t know from where to start. The end of the semester was getting close and I was prepared to give up. Then I finally got in contact with the right person who could provide me with the information I needed and suddenly things started to feel a lot more clear. I started to plan the project and I found three people who wanted to work with me. So the project became two parallel projects. We’re working on them two and two since we’re supposed to write our thesis two and two. But we’re also helping each other a lot. Since Christmas things have been going forward at a steady pace, although my involvement in the student union nomination committee has kept me from working on the project as much as I wanted too the last month. Anyway we’ve worked on the objectives, planned the travel a bit, made an outline for a budget, applied for grants and looked for other ways to finance the projects, got vaccinations and been on several meetings.

Briefly, the objective of our project is to facilitate the spreading of knowledge about how to build earthquake-resistant houses. People in the Nepalese villagers should be able to build new homes on their own, without depending on external assistance. We plan to create manuals and instructional videos that describe the construction process in easy ways, as well as look for other ways of conveying knowledge. The parallel project, that the two other people are working on, will look more into how the construction process itself of Build up Nepal can be made more efficient. It’s possible that we will have to redefine our objectives along the way. The needs of Build up Nepal change very quickly and we have to adapt. We also have to keep the requirements of our university in mind so that we plan the projects in such a way that we can write our thesis based on them.

The plan right now is to spend this spring preparing and writing. As much as possible should be ready and planned when we travel in June so that we can use our two months in Nepal efficiently. Then i August we go back and finish the last things from home. My goal is that we’ll be done in September or October.

I don’t know how this will end. It is a big challenge. But challenges like these are fun and exciting so I will put a lot of commitment and energy into it. And I’ll keep writing about it here on my blog.