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BAMBOO SKILLING

This pilot project has involved learnings on treatment, processing, and fashioning of bamboo products.  But at the same time we also have a desire to see young men equipped with skills and with opportunities to see value created in their village settings.

The Asha Kiran Society has been involved with seeing “just and compassionate communities, choosing and celebrating life” through our Asha Kiran Hospital and various community health, education and agro-livelihood work since 1991. 

This past year the Asha Kiran Society has been working to innovate on using Bamboo as an eco-friendly material to bless the communities of Southern Odisha.  We see Bamboo is an amazing gift from God.  It is strong, light, beautiful to the eye... and it grows on the rolling hills of our upland area.  While we do not see as much wild and cultivated bamboo – as say in Jharkhand – we know that it is well suited for this terrain.  Our Asha Kiran Hospital campus is blessed to have dense clumps of bamboos which were planted on what used to be a barren dusty open land. 

Mr. Stephen Ebenezer is a trained mechanical engineer who is exploring the whole gamut of utilising bamboo - from planting and harvesting, to treating the bamboo to prevent pests spoiling them, to making products.  He and his team of Mr. Civin and Mr. Jebin have implemented a pilot project that demonstrates the capacity and potential of bamboo products – and the opportunities open for young men from our area to move forward in this way.

This pilot project has involved learnings on treatment, processing, and fashioning of bamboo products.  But at the same time we also have a desire to see young men equipped with skills and with opportunities to see value created in their village settings.  Our hope is that as beautiful bamboo products are made, we are also seeing beautiful lives being shaped in the process.

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Initial mobilisation

Our team recruited 10 young men from for a 2 day orientation on Bamboo Skills on the 19th and 20th of March, 2121. The program was held in the training centre of Asha Kiran Society. The sessions were mainly practical, with learning happening by means of discussions and demonstrations. The focus areas were introduction to bamboo as a material, safety, use of tools, and products (both physical models and pictures and videos). 

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As we look at the hills around us, we see some clumps of Bamboo too. And we are looking at them with new eyes... how can they be best used?  What are ways which local people can generate income from bamboo products?  How can we see beautiful eco-friendly products which help us in long-term creation-care?  Could bamboo products help young people use their time more effectively?

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The participants enjoyed the sessions and worked with the tools heartily. All of them expressed a desire to participate in the full-fledged Bamboo Skills training being offered at the Lahanti Institute of Multiple Skills in Dumka, Jharkhand.  A number of of the candidates expressed a desire to learn spoken English.  They also said that they wanted to make advanced products in bamboo such as the bamboo house and bamboo bicycles that had been shown them in the product session.

Training at LIMS – Jharkhand

The participants enjoyed the sessions and worked with the tools heartily. All of them expressed a desire to participate in the full-fledged Bamboo Skills training being offered at the Lahanti Institute of Multiple Skills in Dumka, Jharkhand.  A number of of the candidates expressed a desire to learn spoken English.  They also said that they wanted to make advanced products in bamboo such as the bamboo house and bamboo bicycles that had been shown them in the product session.

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The team worked on the training continuously, even on the Sunday in-between, so the days of training were 11 days.  Each day, they started at 7:30 AM and finished at 5:30 PM. Some days saw extra learning hours.

Since we had a focus towards toy manufacture, the LIMS team focussed the work on the treatment and use of solid bamboo pieces as opposed to bamboo weaving which is the more traditional art form.   However, given the interest shown by the boys, they were also exposed to furniture making and basket weaving skills.

The candidates learnt treatment of bamboo, use of power tools, cultivation of bamboo, and then the manufacture of many products.  One more learning was working in the context of an industry. The students learnt about acceptable quality, rejections, and so on.

The students learnt and practiced making the following:

   1. Pen stand and card

   2. holderAmplifier

   3. Stool

   4. Mats

All the participants expressed their deep appreciation for having been able to participate in this training at LIMS in Dumka, Jharkhand.  They were eager to come back to Odisha and continue their skilling and begin making bamboo products in their home-places.  Their participation was excellent and the Asha Kiran Staff were able to build a deep rapport with these young men.

Production Learning

For the past 2 months the 10 young men have continued their learnings daily at the KSBK campus at Doraguda village.  Other than 1 candidate, all the others come from their own homes. The candidates continued their learning of basic bamboo production by focussing on making “Bamboo Autos” as educational toys.

Besides the skills inputs for treatment, fashioning, sanding, painting and packaging of the “Bamboo Autos” the youth are also being given life-skills and spoken English inputs – one such value-addition session each day.

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We are happy to report that the manufacturing process has picked up and the young men are now able to produce good quality toys.  Our initial marketing steps are taking place and we are glad to announce that the Koraput District Administration has placed orders for 400 such educational toys.  The Collector has said that every anganwadi in the district should have such and eco-friendly educational toy for their children.

Do you have children who you would like to bless with a beautiful hand-made Bamboo toy?  Please contact Stephen Ebenezer at Stephen.Ebenezer@gmail.com!

One of the boys' father from the nearby Potenda village has decided to grow bamboo and we have supported him to setup a nursery for producing the required 700+ saplings. These saplings will be shared with another boy who wants to plant bamboo too.

This increase in interest among the farmers is one of our desires since bamboo is beneficial to the environment and till now there was not much interest among local farmers to plant bamboo. 

The Asha Kiran Society believes that the future is bright for these dear young men and the bamboo-craft skills they are aquiring.  It is a tribute to our dogged core team of Mr. Stephen and his co-workers, Mr. Civin and Mr. Jebin - with the help of Mr. Symon, Mr. Raj Kumar Suna and others that so much has been done is such a short period of time.  We are looking to grow more bamboo, expand the skill-sets of young people, and build up the confidence of this precious generation of future leaders!