Altai Republic is under water and bridges have been swept away. Because the villages are all on riverbanks, most of the housing for 200,000 people has been flooded. Help is needed. Here is the letter from Svetlana Katynova, who implements all our humanitarian projects there.
Both the immediate and longer-term problems are food, water, shelter, and water-borne disease. Any help you can give at this time will be used for these most basic needs.
Thank you for your ongoing support of this crucially important project. Parents Joe Fast Horse and Lena Apple operate a children's safe house in Wounded Knee, SD, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
They care for 9 children total in a small HUD home provided by the tribe that is riddled with black mold and cockroaches, with running water that just barely works, all because they care for the future of Lakota children on the Pine Ridge reservation. Three generations are volunteering to make this house a reality. It is their spirit of caring that compels Tiyospaye Winyan Maka to assist them in building their own home, on their own land, in a model off-grid community.
Current planning for our Safe House and Model Community include:
A. Sacred Mountains Earthen Home (collaborating partner: Texas Natural Builders)
B. Volunteer Bunkhouse and Community Facilities (collaborating partners: church organizations including Unity Church, Boulder; Unitarian Universalists, Rapid City; Washington Park United Church of Christ, Denver) 1. Bunkhouse 2. Composting Toilets 3. Solar shower
C. Power 1. Wind Generator (collaborating partner: Engineers Without Borders Project-CSU student chapter) 2. Portable Sawmill, All building supplies are collected from the natural resources available in the immediate and surrounding areas. This tool, called a Wood Mizer, will help Tiospaye Winyan Maka and multiple families build multiple homes on Pine Ridge. 3. A welder/generator: A welder/generator will help Tiospaye Winyan Maka build important structural and foundational elements for not only the Fast Horse family, but for multiple families in the future. It will also help power the volunteer camp at the build site when it's not being used for it's welding capacities, an important amenity needed to draw more volunteers in.
D. Water 1. Open-air Kitchen / Community Classroom a. Water Supply: 1700 Gallon Water Cistern with Gravity feed b. Tables and seating c. Propane stove(s) d. Sink and drainage e. Root cellar / storage 2. Rainwater harvesting system with second cistern to provide water for an organic, heirloom garden so the family can achieve nutritional self-sufficiency and not rely on the federal food commodity program, which provides unhealthy high sugar, high carbohydrate, high sodium foods 3. On-site watershed restoration, (collaborating partner: Cuenca los Ojos)
E. Volunteer Resources 1. International Volunteers (collaborating partner: Service Civile International) 2. Domestic Volunteers (collaborating partners: Engineers Without Borders chapters, also faith community members; Habitat for Humanity)
F. Demonstration Workshops and Projects 1. Demonstration earthen wall options, including: cob, cord wood, straw bale, etc. 2. Ethno-botany guided walks 3. Trail rides
It's people like the Fast Horses who bring light into an often dark situation. They squeeze every penny out of your donation.
An ongoing problem in Altai Republic is the disrespecting of sites that are sacred to the Altai people. This takes many forms, but the garbage left on sacred Mount Belukha by tourists and climbers has been particularly egregious. The mountain is both a Russian national park and and UNESCO World Heritage Site.
However, our Altai partner Svetlana Katynova knows how to "make lemonaid from the lemons." She's using the 100th anniversary of the first ascent of Mount Belukha (altitude 14,783 feet) as impetus for the first-ever major clean-up of the complex of trails around the mountain. In 2006, an Altai Mir University expedition did a clean-up at the base of the mountain, but this project is much more ambitious.
The clean-up is co-organized with Igor Saylankin (Director of National Nature Park “Belukha”) and supported by the Altai Republic Ministry of Tourism, Ust Koksa District Administration, owners of local tourist facilities, and local individuals involved in tourism. 100 kilometers of trails will be divided into sections for which groups from different cities are being invited to take responsibility.
Svetlana and I -- and the Altai people -- thank you for your ongoing support, which makes projects like this possible.