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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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KHAANACHAHIYE: Fighting Hunger In COVID19

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Out of 1,00,00,000

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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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Goonj Is Working With 1000’s Of Volunteers & Partner NGOs To Provide Covid-19 Relief In 18 States

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With the extension of the lockdown the crisis of migrant labourers and daily wagers has just grown bigger due to uncertainty and fear of future. In the migrant colonies, slums and for people in the villages hunger and desperation is building up day by day. This is high time we step up our efforts to support our people who are in dire need of food and hygiene essentials to survive the pandemic, Covid-19.

After the India-wide lockdown, a lot of jobless migrant workers are stuck in cities with hardly any resources while many started retreating back to their villages. With the loss of livelihoods, a large number of them are now struggling to support their families.

Goonj activated its pan India teams and a pan India network of partner organizations and volunteers in urban and rural India. This network, built over the last two decades, helps them learn from the ground, reach material quickly and review and adapt strategy periodically. Intensifying this network has helped Goonj reach and start work across 17produced states/UT in the last three weeks.
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KHAANACHAHIYE: Fighting Hunger In COVID19

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Goonj’s focus: 

Majority of the Covid-19 relief work by non profits right now is in the metros and cities but Goonj is the only non profit that is also simultaneously focusing on the people in the villages and the ones stuck on highways or somewhere.

Goonj is targeting daily wagers, migrants and other vulnerable groups, who even traditionally are left out like the disabled, sex workers, LGBTQ community.

“COVID-19 is a crisis, yes…But, it’s also an opportunity for us to build the society anew. Not ‘for’ the people…but, ‘with’ the people. And in the process, we will build ourselves too.” – Anshu Gupta, Founder-Director, Goonj.

Direct Monetary and Material Transfer

Wherever Goonj got the permission to open their centres for packing and disbursement of relief material kits, they are creating a kit consisting of 20-30 kgs material including dry rations, masks, sanitary pads and other hygiene material and reaching them to people, as per needs and as per regulations with all safety precautions. This kit will help a family survive for 30 days.

Information till 10th April 2020:

  • Distributed 15,100 ration kits reaching thousands of people
  • Reached 17,700 families
  • Supporting 12 community kitchen across India with 16,600kgs of ration
  • 77,800 food packets provided to migrant laborers and daily wagers walking on the roads across the country.
  • Provided direct financial support to 32 organisations
  • Made 42,800 cloth face masks
  • 24,900 cloth sanitary napkins produced
  • Produced 1500 litres of organic sanitiser

In Goonj’s processing centers its trained team of women are making cloth face masks and cloth sanitary pads (MY-Pads), keeping all the precautions and with the permission and cooperation of the local authorities.

In this lock-down phase if you are facing any difficulty getting sanitary pads or you are running out of stock, here’s a detailed but very simple process of making Cloth Pads at home created by Goonj. “This is how we make Goonj MY Pads.” This is how our mothers and grandmothers turned their spare cloth into pads.

This disaster, unlike any other, is unprecedented in its scale and impact and that’s why we all must do our bit with Goonj to continue its relief work for millions of people in this still unfolding long-tailed disaster.

The need is huge.. We are there.. Need You too !!

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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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