Once In A 60 Lakh Debt, Now This Couple Is Building Bamboo Houses Across India

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When Bamboo House India started in 2006, the initiative did not receive a warm welcome in the country. Surviving harsh times, without even one proper meal a day, did not deter the founders from their aim to revive the overlooked economies of North-Eastern villages.

Fast forward to today, Bamboo House India is breathing a new life into the concrete veins of Hyderabad. Their innovative use of bamboo as a building material for homes is creating better employment opportunities for many marginal communities. They engineer beautiful modern-day bamboo houses equipped with electricity, internet and all other amenities for a comfortable living.

ne of the houses built by Bamboo House India

Prashant Lingam, who co-founded Bamboo House India along with his wife Aruna Kappagantula, believes that bamboo is the future for eco-friendly living in India, a sounder option than cement, iron, plastic and even wood. In a heartfelt conversation he opened up about the journey of Bamboo House India as a pioneer in reviving bamboo farming amidst intense struggle.

Inspiration Behind Bamboo House India

Way back in 2006, while looking for eco-friendly furniture for their home, the duo chanced upon some remote villages in the Indo-Bangladesh border where bamboo was the primary source of livelihood. The villagers were gifted with extraordinary skill sets, but due to lack of exposure, they were surviving on a paltry income of 20-30 rupees per day mainly by making baskets. In fact, a majority of them were migrating to nearby towns.

Prashant and Aruna were already aware that bamboo had gained global popularity as an eco-friendly construction material. That was when they decided to create an urban market for bamboo which would provide a decent livelihood to these tribal communities as well as promote environmentally sustainable bamboo houses to the public.

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When Bamboo House India started in 2006, the initiative did not receive a warm welcome in the country. Surviving harsh times, without even one proper meal a day, did not deter the founders from their aim to revive the overlooked economies of North-Eastern villages.

Fast forward to today, Bamboo House India is breathing a new life into the concrete veins of Hyderabad. Their innovative use of bamboo as a building material for homes is creating better employment opportunities for many marginal communities. They engineer beautiful modern-day bamboo houses equipped with electricity, internet and all other amenities for a comfortable living.

ne of the houses built by Bamboo House India

Prashant Lingam, who co-founded Bamboo House India along with his wife Aruna Kappagantula, believes that bamboo is the future for eco-friendly living in India, a sounder option than cement, iron, plastic and even wood. In a heartfelt conversation he opened up about the journey of Bamboo House India as a pioneer in reviving bamboo farming amidst intense struggle.

Inspiration Behind Bamboo House India

Way back in 2006, while looking for eco-friendly furniture for their home, the duo chanced upon some remote villages in the Indo-Bangladesh border where bamboo was the primary source of livelihood. The villagers were gifted with extraordinary skill sets, but due to lack of exposure, they were surviving on a paltry income of 20-30 rupees per day mainly by making baskets. In fact, a majority of them were migrating to nearby towns.

Prashant and Aruna were already aware that bamboo had gained global popularity as an eco-friendly construction material. That was when they decided to create an urban market for bamboo which would provide a decent livelihood to these tribal communities as well as promote environmentally sustainable bamboo houses to the public.

Not Giving Up Through Years of Struggle

Soon after Prashant and Aruna embarked on their bamboo journey with a noble aim in mind, they had to face the harsh reality – nobody is ready to even think of a bamboo house. “Without a single contract in the first three years, we incurred an enormous debt of 60 lakhs,” shares Prashant. With deteriorating health and after the unfortunate deaths of their closest family members, they even considered committing suicide as a way out.

Bamboo House India
A rooftop bamboo house

For a last try, Aruna sold all her jewellery and pledged all their assets. Finally, a school principal in Hyderabad approached them to build a bamboo penthouse atop a building. Their excellent craftsmanship in this project attracted others, and the company has not looked back ever since.

Creating Jobs For Thousands

Since around 65% of bamboo production in India is concentrated in the North-East, Bamboo House India procures their raw material from the obscure hamlets of Assam, Tripura and Meghalaya. In a rural family, the male members are engaged in the cutting and collection of bamboo stems while the women weave them into bamboo mats by hand. After factory treatment, these are transported to Hyderabad where builders, carpenters and electricians are employed for the final construction of a cosy bamboo house. “Overall, a single bamboo house generates decently paid job opportunities for around a hundred people,” Prashant Lingam tells us.

Bamboo House India

Lack of proper roads and telecommunication in the North-East poses a tremendous logistical challenge for the organisation. The transportation of raw bamboo becomes inherently difficult during the torrential monsoon rains. Despite all these, Bamboo House India has successfully maintained their iron determination in rehabilitating these tribal economies.

Bamboo handicrafts have a high demand for interior decoration. “We are also connecting these handicraft artisans with buyers in India and the USA,” Prashant mentions, explaining to us how Bamboo House is employing new workers every day.

Environmental Advantages of Bamboo

From generating 35% more oxygen than a forest cover of equal area, to a substantial water retention capacity, bamboo has endless benefits. Adaptable to all weather conditions, a bamboo plantation has a life cycle of around 48 years. Bamboo attains complete growth within only 3 years and can be harvested again and again. This is why opting for bamboo houses is way more economical over wood because a tree takes a minimum 25 years to mature.

Is a bamboo house actually better a concrete house? This chart compares

Bamboo House India

The Present And The Future

Solely due to their sincere efforts, today, more people are recognising bamboo as a sustainable material for terrace houses, small cottages and even a large farmhouse in Tamil Nadu with a budget of 2 crores.

At present, the projects of Bamboo House India are mainly concentrated in and around Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and also Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra to some extent. Their unique efforts have received international recognition. You will find a beautiful bamboo gazebo at the US consulate in Hyderabad and a boathouse in the Google Office – some widely acclaimed projects by Bamboo House India. Apart from bamboo, they are also focusing on upcycling scrap materials and plastic, providing a new horde of opportunities for ragpickers.

Even today, only 10% of the enquiries get converted into contracts for bamboo houses. “We are trying to create more awareness by delivering lectures at schools and colleges and appealing to the youth.” The founders are working hard day and night to make India realise how bamboo can be a permanent solution to our environmental woes.

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It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote

‘Happy Fridge’: The Key To Bridge Food Wastage And Hunger Problem In India

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Rahul Khera and Gautam Jindal, volunteers (aka hunger heroes) at Feeding India, were among the many Delhi NCR residents accustomed to seeing hungry children pick up half-eaten burgers or stale sandwiches from the dustbin and savour those with the brightest smiles. Like many others, they also had the will to promote equitable food distribution but was perplexed about the approach, until they learnt about the community fridge initiative which has gained unprecedented success in Saudi Arabia and few other European countries. Meanwhile, community fridges were already being installed outside restaurants or in public places in a handful of cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Coimbatore and Kochi.

Say Goodbye To Throwing Away Excess Food Because Now You Can Donate The Food To The Needy – Happy Fridge

Thank you for overwhelming response for the Happy Fridge concept. We need more funds from you to install more fridges like this across India. With the limited funds avaialble Feeding India was able to install three fridges only. Kindly donate here http://bit.ly/happyfridge

Posted by The Logical Indian on Saturday, October 27, 2018

Needless to mention, with a shocking 103rd rank in the Global Hunger Index and a food wastage estimate of around Rs 58,000 crore – India was perhaps the best country to implement such an initiative. With Gautam’s help, an enthusiastic Rahul invested his own savings to install a ‘Happy Fridge’ outside his residence at Sun City, Sector 54 in Gurgaon. Set up in 2017 by these Feeding India volunteers, the fridge in Gurgaon has inspired the NGO to scale up the project across India.

No one has ever become poor by giving
– Anne Frank

‘Happy Fridge’ fostered many smiles

It didn’t take long for the local residents to learn about this laudable endeavour. They welcomed it, as wastage of excess food was a recurring problem in almost every household. “Intimating the localities was no mammoth task, thanks to social media. However, it was difficult to spread the word among those who actually needed the food,” shares Rahul, who went from auto stands to slums, inviting rickshaw pullers, ragpickers or roadside vendors to avail the community fridge any time they feel hungry. “The security guards of our residential complex played a huge role in explaining how the fridge works to the beneficiaries,” he adds.

The operational and maintenance costs of the ‘ happy fridge ‘ are being maintained diligently by the community members.

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Empower Poor Women To Rise Out Of Poverty

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Making memories, sprouting awareness

“I remember one young man who had arrived from a village looking for some menial day job. Somehow he had run out of his paltry savings and had no money to buy one decent meal a day. For about a month, our happy fridge was his solace, till he earned his first salary from a housekeeping job,” shares a jubilant Rahul.

In another incident, a truck driver returning in the wee hours of midnight was starving after a whole day’s hard work. He had run out of cooking fuel at his home, so our fridge was at his rescue.

“The residents keep all sorts of palatable dishes in the happy fridge, ranging from dry snacks, fruits to cooked meals. Sometimes, they even keep raw vegetables, to ensure not a single bit of good food ends up in their trash while other people go hungry to bed,” reveals Rahul.

On an average, each happy fridge supplies around 10-15 meals in a day. The gratitude and pure smiles of the hungry souls after a fulfilling meal are more than enough to continue to motivate Rahul and his neighbours. In fact, inspired by him, many other communities in the Delhi-NCR region set up community fridges in their areas.

Feeding India will set up 500 Happy Fridges

Since the past few years, Feeding India has been a prominent organisation working in the forefront to solve the hunger problem in India. Primarily, they were involved in redistributing leftover food from weddings and parties among the underprivileged people in different cities of India. Their volunteers, better known as “Hunger Heroes of India”, worked actively to bridge the gap between food wastage and food crisis.

“We used to get a lot of calls from individual households to collect their excess food. However, unfortunately, we lacked the manpower and planning to launch our programme on a door to door basis. We were desperately looking for an alternative when we learnt about the community fridges,” shares Srishti Jain, co-founder of Feeding India.

After interacting with Rahul Khera and other campaigners of community fridges, Feeding India decided to amplify this extraordinary project throughout the length and breadth of India. Presently, they have launched the #FightFoodWaste campaign to install 500 community fridges – nicknamed ‘ Happy Fridge ’. So any passer-by – be it a kid going to school without a lunchbox, or a labourer returning home late at night with no promise of a dinner – can now grab a pack of biscuits or a bowl of ‘dal-chawal’ (rice & lentil soup) to satiate their hunger. Click here to contribute for ‘ Happy Fridge ‘ and ensure India never sleeps hungry again.

Feeding India also urges everyone to make a promise to stop wasting food and instead consider donating it to those in need.

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Quote
It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote
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