Inspire Village: Inspiring work building a bottle house!

Whilst in Sri Lanka I was lucky enough to be able to visit my friend Rachel from university and her partner John at Inspire Village in the north of the island. To give a little background, the family that run and own Inspire Village were given 22 acres of land in the 1970's in response to their on-going involvement in charity work. They were asked by the government to use the land sustainably and for the benefit of the local community. This is something that runs through the heart of everything that they do there. 

The Inspire Village family invite groups of volunteers from across the globe to not only help build and improve the buildings and community spaces on-site, but also to engage with local educational settings. 

The project has many outreach projects and supports local schools and children throughout the area and even sometimes further afield. There is a big focus upon skills sharing and sustainability. My friends from the UK have been living and volunteering at this wonderful project and home for 4 months now. I was so lucky to have the opportunity to come and visit them and to see what they have been up to during that time; they have been very busy! Rachel and John are both engineers by profession and they have been using their skills to support building and environmental projects at Inspire Village. They are there tackling the issues surrounding wastefulness and caring for the environment. In Sri Lanka, due to unsafe drinking water, thousands of plastic bottles are used daily. However, they are not recycled by the government or communities. So, Rachel and John have set up projects to educate the local community about reducing their plastic and other waste, such as food and clothing. 

One project I saw when I was there was building a house made of plastic bottles! It was important to my friends to engage the local children and adults so they can build an awareness of waste issues and gain practical eco-building skills.

The initial stages involved collecting many hundreds of bottles and building a structure to contain them in. This was a woven wooden structure that I helped to build - hot, sweaty and very satisfying work! Then, the local children and volunteers had been invited to come and fill the bottles with rubbish and dirt before they are built into a house. The bottles form the inside wall structure and so are being used instead of bricks.

The house will be used on-site as a community space. This will also serve as a model house to show what can be done to reuse and recycle some of the waste here.  

Here are  the stages so far...

Using local wood to build a woven wooden structure to contain the bottles. I really enjoyed helping  to build this!

Carefully measuring out where to dig in the supporting sticks. A very technical system combining judgment based loosely on a tape measure and educated guesses!

Half way there!

We finished it!

A volunteer group packing plastic bottles with dirt. 

Laying foundations. 

I can't wait to see the final building! 


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