Amazing! Coming back from heart surgery, Christinia is pulling together resources and volunteers for another season. She's loading her old car and a rental truck to the groaning point with donated supplies. Beginning April 24th, she and a team of volunteers will be laying this season's groundwork for the off-grid children's safe house.
In November, we held a one-day workshop in Fort Collins, CO, to demonstrate how efficient and low-cost housing, electricity and water systems can be designed, installed, and maintained for families who need them most and can least afford them. Our organization, Tiyospaye Winyan Maka collaborated with the Sustainable Living Association, Buckville Energy, and Engineers Without Borders Colorado State University Chapter.The workshop focused on bringing together integrated off-grid solutions for the Fast Horse family of Wounded Knee, SD, enabling them to move off the grid to their own land—far from the mold-infested government housing—to build and maintain their own sustainable homestead and safe house on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The class designed sustainable solar, wind and water systems enabling Oglala Sioux family to build homestead on their ancestral land. The systems designed by the class will be installed by Tiyospaye Winyan Maka volunteers starting in 2015, and hands-on installation classes will be offered on the site.The Pine Ridge Reservation is one of the poorest regions in America with an average per capita income of under $6,500, 80% unemployment, and 49% of residents living below the Federal poverty level; 61% of those people are under the age of 18. Every aspect of life on Pine Ridge is affected, leading to substandard housing, unhealthy foods and eating habits, inadequate transportation, lack of childcare options, alcoholism, gang violence, and domestic abuse.Tiyospaye Winyan Maka (translated “Extended family of women of the Earth”) is a nonprofit organization headed by Executive Director Christinia Eala to address these issues with inexpensive and sustainable solutions including efficient green building techniques, water catchment and purification systems, solar and wind electric systems, organic gardening and food preservation, local cottage industries, eco-tourism, and simple community classrooms where these ideas can be spread to others.“We are a strong, beautiful people here with a proud history, who now live in third-world conditions inside one of the richest nations on Earth,” Eala said. “Our goal is to demonstrate to others in our community that with shared knowledge, experience and resources we can break out of this tragic legacy of two centuries of colonization together, and forge our own destinies on our ancestral lands.”The Fast Horse family safe house is currently an emergency placement home for foster children, and Joe and Lena Fast Horse volunteer for the Tiyospaye Crisis Center. They currently have nine children under their guardianship.
We greatly appreciate your continuing support. It makes our work possible.
Joe and Lena Fast Horse run a "safe house" for Lakota children, even though, with a leaky roof and rampant black mold, the cramped house in Wounded Knee would not be considered safe by most standards. You have been supporting construction of a truly safe home for their children on a beautiful hillside overlooking Pine Ridge.
The logistics of building on the Pine Ridge Reservation are daunting: the nearest hardware store is five hours away; volunteers are ready to help, but depend on donated tools and building supplies.
The Fast Horse family urgently needs to get out of their mold-infested house before winter. This is a good-news, bad-news story:
Just being out on the land instead of in a dilapidated village will renew their souls during the long winter ahead. And then, next spring, building of the permanent structures will continue with renewed enthusiasm.
For Joe and Lena's "children's safe house" on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, we will be installing solar panels which will have the capacity to run a a laptop, etc, but mostly the incoming energy will be stored in car batteries which can, in turn, be hooked up to the power inverter to provide 120v AC.
Last summer on the Fast Horse Land we had two tornadoes pass by our campsite, one on either side...and they took down nine power poles on the highway. Pine Ridge Village and much of the surrounding area were without power for a few days. With this system, the family can still have the services they need to care for the children and the house.
Joe and Lena currently have nine children in their home; five are by birth and four by circumstance. Additionally, they work with Lakota Oyate Wakanyeja Owicakiyape (LOWO) as an emergency placement home for children and have been doing volunteer work for Tiyospaye Crisis Center for two years.
They currently live in Wounded Knee Village, but their dream is to build an eco-sustainable children's safe house and family home on our land in the Wakpamni District. Your donation take us a step closer to accomplishing that dream.
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.
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