I’ve had the amazing opportunity to pass through Galle, Sri Lanka. A massive Tsunami struck in 2004 leveling communities and making thousands homeless. My colleagues and I are envisioning building a simple structure from Ecobricks in Nepal– and thus the repercussions of the Aid and the construction attempts of a decade ago are a profound lesson for us.
I had the chance to talk to a young woman, working as an English teacher now. I was able to scribble down her words over a family dinner. There’s some deep wisdom here…
“My family lost everything in the tsunami of 2004 except for the cloths we were wearing and some jewlery. After a disaster people have lost their former livelihood and have no jobs. Nmore work. The saddest thing is after a national disaster, peoples lifestyle has fully come down without their jobs. The way they made their living before is no more.
NGOs helped but, its the kind of thing, that is only for a while. Afterwards they need a life. In two or three months the supplies be finished and they need a life. Otherwise they thinks that supplies are forever.”
“Food items will be consumed in a few days and then people will expect more to be given. If you give them food or money then they will expect, that next day you will give also. Better to give self employment, skills, or sewing machine so that they can provide for themselves. Better to give them new ideas and new ways to make their life.”
Hey everyone– help needed! We’re preparing to mobilize Ecobricking in Nepal to transform plastics from pollutions into solutions! Key to this is having our Vision Ecobrick Guide translated into Nepali. We need help with English to Nepali and with MS Publisher layout. We also need help with illustrations and contextualization of our content for Nepal’s unique situation. Click through to our Wiki here for full instructions. If you don’t know Nepali but know people who do, click through to share the Wiki page on your Facebook!
Today, Trudy and I met Dr. Milinda Pathiraja, an architect and engineering professor here in Colombo Sri Lanka, to consult with on our vision of building an ecobrick trauma center from ecobricked waste and earth in Nepal. Trudy asked him whether there were any good examples of structural innovation after all the millions of dollars spent on relief projects in Sri
Lanka after the tsunami in 2004.
“You could almost say nothing.” Said Dr. Pathiraja. “The shelters were the most expensive houses– five times the cost of the usual house. The construction industry did become very wealthy. I knew the people from the industry, they were very eager to receive the funds. The people who gave the money weren’t cognizant to where it went. It was a wasted opportunity. Failure.”
Essentially, it was to the industry’s and NGO’s advantage to build costly buildings so that money could be spent and received fast. Consequently, there was no incentive to build human and community friendly structures– the test of which being whether they were replicable– which they weren’t. Nothing worthwhile was developed!
According to Trudy the effects of the international aid had another dimension “The aid that came in created dependency, not empowerment. The NGOs said they were going to do capacity building as they built structures, but everyone got used to receiving aid and having free things built for them. The aid was really the second tsunami, that just created another disaster.”