drying cow patties

16.02.13 | arriving in Hariharpur

As the exhibition in Delhi was mounted and opened to public, Alex and Leika packed up all the tools and drove to Hariharpur. The purpose of this short trip is to gain a better understanding of the community: research locally available materials, techniques and skills as well as grasping the social context of the village. Throughout our trip, Saswati, a very sweet and caring woman from ITRHD, has been hugely supporting us by arranging accommodation, transportation and various other things.

After a 19-hour-long car drive from Delhi (no one recommended us to take the road, but we just had to do it to shift all our construction tools!), Alex and Leika finally arrived in Azamgarh late at Friday night. We didn’t expect to be welcomed by pouring rain and frightening thunder. The rain continued the next day when we visited Chacha Neru School. Saswati and all six teachers were busy distributing the brand new uniforms to the pupils, preparing for the opening of the nursery on the following day. ITRHD is renting an old cow shed which is now transformed into two nursery rooms. WORKSHOP will build classrooms together with the community on a separate site where they will have primary education. Currently, the nursery holds over 60 children, mostly between three and five years old. Not everyone appeared to receive the uniform due to heavy rain. It was a good learning for us to understand the impact of the weather.

Many locals were gathering around the nursery, interested in finding out about the two new arrivals. One of the musicians who performed at UnBox recognized us and warmly invited over to his house for a cup of chai. He showed us his huge collection of musical instruments carefully stored in his closet, and we were given a wonderful private music performance by a team of musicians. Arvind, the local coordinator assigned by ITRHD, was together with us. He later on took us for a walk around the area as the weather recovered. Hariharpur is covered by a variety of crops and hena trees. The yellow flowers of mustard plants are most visible, giving the village a warm atmosphere. There is no concrete road in the village; along the paths in the village you’ll find nicely shaped piles of cow dung. Many of the houses are made of fire bricks but there are also mud houses, the type of technique we are interested in implementing for the new school. At the edge of the village, there are three brick factory chimneys standing high up. We were very excited to know that bricks were produced locally. We also noticed that bamboo was often used as part of roof structures and was growing locally. Filled with new ideas and inspiration, we went back to our temporary home in Azamgarh.