Another month goes by and work continues. There is a general feeling in the air that the reconstruction phase is now fully underway. For the past 7 months there has been a revolving door of government officials and rule changes but things are beginning to calm down. Fundraising has begun to slow to a trickle which is actually good as we can focus more of our time on projects and less on administration. We currently have six tsunami related projects underway, more details of each project can be found in the full post .
In the Ampara district of Sri Lanka we have broken ground on our school building projects. The schools are based on a design by our in-house architects and feedback from community members. As the work is being undertaken by those who were displaced the design may shift during construction. We are hoping to have the first couple of schools built by the end of August.
We are also exploring with one of our on the ground partners, Relief International, the idea of a livelihood project. Essentially a community collective is formed of 10-12 women and we would build a bakery for them to start a business. more on this soon. This project will begin in the fall.
In Cuddalore, India our partner organization, LEAD, is doing skills assessment and final design changes for three community centers. All the centers, based in Ambedkar Nagar, Periyakuppam and Chinnavaikal, will be 'off-the-grid' and utilize rainwater and solar collection. Libraries and classrooms for children will also be apart of these centers. With a partner that has strong convictions in sustainable development this could become one of our most innovative projects.
Kirinda has slowed down due to government holdups. They are still messing around with setting up planning guidelines and where one can build. This is a much slower project as we will not start community building until at least a majority of housing is underway. If work does not pickup we may have to reassess our involvment there.
One of our local chapters, AFH MN (Minnesota), has been providing pro-bono design work for the Minnesota Sri Lanka Friendship Foundation. They are working on housing and planning for a community center and 50 houses in the south. The Star Tribune has a report on their recent design charrette. AFH UK (London) is also providing pro-bono support to tsunami related projects.
Just north of the Ampara district we are supporting an team of designers from Harvard who have been working with a Sri Lankan based NGO to develop a housing prototypes. These units are able to withstand force 5 times more that traditional buildings while still using local materials and labor.
In terms of personnel we are having a new country representative in Sri Lanka starting early September and our India Rep., Purnima McCutcheon, is pushing forth with the community center projects.
On a side note we are held an amazing community development workshop in South Africa for Siyathembe, our sports facility and HIV/AIDS Outreach center in Somkhele, South Africa. Hundreds turned out and we are really excited about the next stage - building! Additionally we are supporting a transitional housing initiative in Grenada, which was recently hit by Hurricane Emily. We are helping send 70 Global Village Shelters to the island this week. I will post on these two projects shortly.