Compassion for Altai

by Altai Mir University
International volunteers building the walipini
International volunteers building the walipini

Nobody said that building housing at Wounded Knee would be easy. But, by golly, the spirit is willing.

In early May, Christinia took a group of enthusiastic Engineers Without Borders student from Colorado State University to the site, along with supplies to build a battery house for the new solar power system that has been donated. Only to find that the building site had been pillaged. Approximately $7,000 worth of equipment had been stolen: our kitchen/supply tent, our trailer to haul things, even Christinia's project car(!) -- all gone. On top of that, the head gasket in the project truck blew. Then the rains came down and Christinia's other car got stuck in the mud and blew out the clutch. Time to re-group.

We're still short of money to fix the truck, but Bryan Deans of the Oglala Lakota Cultural Economic Revitalization Initiative rescued the car and has provided an alternative project for this summer's international volunteers. They are building a ‘walipini’ (an Aymara Indian word for a “place of warmth”) -- an underground greenhouse that can grow veggies through the bitter Dakota winters. When you dig down four feet, the temperature stays more constant.  A glass lean-to captures and stores the daytime heat. It is built similarly to an earthship house, using tires in the foundation.  Bryan has adapted several styles to create an original design for this greenhouse. We'd like to use Brian's design and include a walipini every place we build, not only to grow organic food, but also as a tornado shelter should the need arise.

But for this summer, starting over as we had to, we need to raise $1000 for materials for the walipini. And your continuing support is critical as we get the Fast Horse child sanctuary back on track for next year.

Bryan Deans backfilling on the build site
Bryan Deans backfilling on the build site

The rain has now stopped in Altai and, with temperature of 40 degrees C., houses are drying out and the repair/rebuilding work can begin...or could begin if the Altai people had any resources. According to local sources, Russian federal disaster funds will provide an average of about $1000/household. This is completely insufficient to address the problem. On top of this, the means for receiving aid has been corrupted, so that those who were flooded out may not get anything, while others with no flooding are receiving the federal subsidy. Svetlana Katynova, our local project leader is working on this issue.

We are disappointed that this project -- established at the specific recommendation of GlobalGiving staff with the promise that some buzz could be created to get help for the flood victims – has not generated a single donation.

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Organization Information

Altai Mir University

Location: Shoreline, WA - USA
Project Leader:
Carol Hiltner
Shoreline, WA United States

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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