GLOBAL GIVING REPORT, OCTOBER 2021
The last three months have been an enormous challenge on the personal front. Tapas and I are being displaced from our home of 30 years to make way for a road in the Auroville Master Plan. We were allocated another house and welcomed by the community in which it is located, but there has been an appeal against this decision for procedural reasons, which has left us hanging in the air for the moment. We have been living through moments of really extreme stress, and this has naturally affected our work severely at all levels.
Still, thanks to our marvelous team and very committed volunteers, and all the systems set up, the Tomatis programs continued, and the Language Lab as well, with all its classes and projects.
Work on the building continued as well, thanks to Tapas’s indomitable commitment to the building and our great team of workers: Iyyanar, Selvam, Kathir, and Selvi!
Roof Maintenance Work: We bought two sets of casuarina scaffolding and movable coconut wood planks, and hired a very professional experienced team to put it up in our main courtyard. We also purchased harnesses to ensure the safety of our team! The work has been on in full steam on the battens and purlins. The wood is being sanded and treated with a mix of linseed oil and turpentine, and the metal is being sanded, painted with primer and Low-VOC paint. This will give an additional lease of life to the roof.
Roof Repair Work: Even though our building is extremely well-built and solid, one of our biggest pain points has been our second-floor roof, which was done by a different contractor and has developed leaks. Even though the vermiculite insulation layer on top of the roof slab was covered by a screed layer of cement, this developed cracks (exposed as it is to direct sun over 42 degrees Celsius) and the vermiculite started absorbing rainwater, creating leaks in certain areas. Not that it is any consolation, but we found out that several places in Auroville are suffering from the same problem. The repair work is going on in sections.
We are experimenting with a sustainable way to heal cracks in concrete: Probiotics! We are using the Probacillus powder from our friends Margarita and Guidelma of Probiotics House. After years of research and experimentation, Margarita has been able to isolate this strain and impregnate it into ceramic powder. There has been a lot of work on using probiotics for construction in Japan, Thailand, and the Philippines, and most recently in Holland. Our building is, of course, a probiotics building. Tapas has been getting the workers to make boxes/layers with slope to cover the weak areas with a mix of our lime, kaddukai nut, liquid probiotics mix into which the probacillus powder is added. The idea is that if water reaches the bacillus, it immediately activates, and the chemical reaction creates lime, which fills the cracks or spaces in the concrete, preventing water from intruding. Thanks to Iyyanar, combined with the advice of a visiting engineer, we also cut through the vermiculite in small channels, to let the water seep out and removed the excess water, before filling the channels with a concrete and waterproof compound mix. Altogether, all of this seems to have given good results, and the leak in the north-western part of the courtyard has stopped!!! In spite of the huge recent rains induced by cyclonic storms in the Bay of Bengal! This is laborious and painstaking work, but holds great promise, not just for our roof, but also we can share the knowledge with others in Auroville and around the world. A great thing about this Probacillus powder is that it is not expensive at all, and only a small amount of it is necessary to cover a large area.
More information about the use of probiotics in healing concrete:-
We will also be covering the northern section and the north-western section with a lightweight second roof. The materials have been bought for this last week.
Besides the roof work, we have set up a beautiful new project management room equipped with shelves, pinboards, and a brand new laptop for our volunteers. And we have new whiteboards for all the classrooms. New cupboards were made as well so that each language has a dedicated space for its books—our library is now on its way to getting much more organized and easy to browse through. We are currently in the process of cataloging the books and digitizing the directory.
We are lucky to have a stellar volunteer, Vismai, who is working with Mano, our all-rounder technical whiz, on our new website, which is coming along really nicely. Vismai and I are also working on the final editing of Resonanz, a fantastic book by our German friends, Franz and Dirk, on the Alfred Tomatis Method and the Listening Therapy; which we hope to bring out in February. The Language Lab itself will publish the book! The Lab is growing, with more students and teachers, thanks to dedicated efforts by some great volunteers, Enzo and Devna, who manage the front desk and all the admin work involved. A Japanese class has just started, which brings back Japanese to our offerings after many years. With one of our English teachers, Miko, away in the US for a while, Rupam has been holding the fort teaching English and Hindi along with another volunteer, Vatsla, who has additionally been working on translating all our recent films, and an excellent film on Auroville afforestation into Hindi.
Another wonderful volunteer, Karan, who is with us half-time, is working on our Network Documentation and Optimization, besides working towards our BREEAM-in-use certification, a project proposed by Tom Abbott, whom I mentioned in the last report. Still another volunteer, Ramesh, a data miner, internet fiend, and excel whiz, has been preparing a huge database, which we will use for our upcoming Giving Tuesday Campaign coming up on GlobalGiving on November 30th.
As for Tomatis, another volunteer, Veronica, has done an excellent job on updating the Tomatis Active materials for both British and American English, bringing in themes for the work with sibilants. She is also now working on cataloging and evaluating all that we have developed over the years for Indian Languages. And even though our housing situation has been de-stabilizing and extremely draining, leaving me little energy for new consultations, thanks to the steady and dedicated work by the Tomatis staff - Raj, Kushboo, Jayanthi, and Pascal - we’ve had some marvelous results for children and adults doing the Tomatis program. We are so lucky to be able to assist in miracles! You can read one of these stories here :
None of this work, especially on the building, could happen without your donations and support. Our deepest thanks to all of you for participating and enabling it to happen.
(PS : Photos will follow).