Building a Women’s Workstation – Workshop November 2015

We will be building a workstation for the women of the Nwai Pan (Every Fresh Flowers) Group.  These women are Kachin, an ethnic group originally from the mountains of northern Burma (Myanmar).

Totem poles are unique to the Kachin culture in South East Asia.

Totem poles are unique to the Kachin culture in South East Asia.

As an ethnic minority, the Kachin in Burma have experienced persecution over many years and a number of them fled to Thailand looking for a safe place to live.  Thirty years ago, His Majesty the King of Thailand granted them some land on which to settle.  This is the site of the village, Ban Samarkee, where we are holding our workshop.

Young Kachin girls in ceremonial dress dance at a festival.

Young Kachin girls in ceremonial dress dance at a festival.

Unfortunately people in the village are struggling to overcome poverty caused in part by lack of water for six months of the year when there is no rain to irrigate their fields, and a reliance on genetically modified (GMO) seeds, and their attendant and expensive chemical fertilisers and pesticides.

In 2014 the Nwai Pan Group initiated The Land with Life Project with the support of the Galaxy Republic, a foundation based in Holland.  The aims of the Project are to improve the life and health and increase the income of the women of the Nwai Pan Group.

The Group are planning to move into food processing for the first time.  They have decided to make peanut butter, as peanuts are often grown in the village fields.  They are hoping that this new venture will help them to break the cycle of poverty, as well as provide an example for others in the village.

The Group decided that they wanted an eco friendly workstation for their peanut butter production and invited me to run a workshop to build them a workstation.

Vocational students from Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia will be raising money for the project and for the food processing machinery as part of their event management course.

With their help and the help of the Galaxy Foundation, we hope to give these women a firm foundation on which to build a sustainable project.

THE WORKSHOP

Not only will the workshop be building for a great project, but it will also be a unique chance to learn how to build using bags of rice husks (hulls).  I will facilitate the workshop, having had the experience of building with rice husks continuously for the past 3 years (see www.chiangdao-roundhouse.com for pictures of rice husk buildings).

Bags of rice husks form the walls – the amazing colour comes from the blue tarpaulin protecting us from the heat of the sun.

Bags of rice husks form the walls – the amazing colour comes from the blue tarpaulin protecting us from the heat of the sun.

We will learn how to build the walls of rice husks and put in windows and doors.  Next we will learn how to mix and apply plaster made from earth, sand, lime and rice husks.

Women from the Nwai Pan Group visit Chiang Dao Roundhouses and have a go at plastering with mud.

Women from the Nwai Pan Group visit Chiang Dao Roundhouses and have a go at plastering with mud.

We will also learn how to make an earthbag bench, and using woven bamboo, make sturdy shelves.

Bench made of earthbags, and shelves of bamboo, both covered with earth plaster.

Bench made of earthbags, and shelves of bamboo, both covered with earth plaster.

In addition, we will learn how to decorate our walls with bottles.

Burning string cuts the bottoms off the bottles.

Burning string cuts the bottoms off the bottles.

Coloured light filters into the room from this bottle design in a wall.

Coloured light filters into the room from this bottle design in a wall.

The workshop will start on 3rd November (arrival of participants 2nd November) and end on 13th November.  Cost for the workshop will be I0,000 Baht. A non-refundable deposit of 2000 Baht will confirm your place on the workshop.  The balance is due 2 weeks before the start of the workshop.

There are places for only 10 people, so please let me know if you are interested and I will book you a place.  You can contact me maggimck@yahoo.com or through our Facebook Event page Natural House Building Workshop by Maggi https://www.facebook.com/events/1467518676906300/ 

Accommodation, dormitory style, will be available in the village 100 Baht per person per night, or private room 200 Baht.  Other accommodation is also available nearby in guest houses.  Three vegetarian meals a day will be prepared for us on site, 2200 Baht per person.  Payment for accommodation and food can be made on arrival.  For more information on accommodation please contact our host Noriko noriko.yabata@gmail.com

If you are interested in becoming part of this project, but are not able to attend the workshop, contact Noriko Yabata at the Galaxy Republic Foundation noriko@galaxyrepublic.net   There are many ways in which people all over the world can help support this worthwhile endeavour.

Bottle design on an outside wall.

Bottle design on an outside wall.

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