Last December, following completion of the rainy season, work commenced on the Bhaktivedanta Ashram’s school project in Orissa. The first phase of work was to fill a number of large ponds on the land and then raise the total land above flood levels. The size of the present land is aproximately 20,000 square feet, or nearly half an acre. Over 1,300 tractor loads of dirt and sand were required to fill and raise the land. Immediately after filling the land, a 10 ton steam roller was used to compress the dirt, followed by building of a high compound wall around the entire school compound. After consulting with structural engineers we were advised to wait at least 10 months to allow the newly filled dirt to settle to create a stronger foundation for the school building. That will allow us to begin construction on the school building in September or October of this year.
The monsoon season is quickly approaching, so this month we have begun building a simple food relief hall next to the site the school will be built on. The hall will be constructed with brick walls, iron support pillars, and polycarbonate plastic sheets for roofing. This will allow us to continue the distribution of free food and the daily children’s educational programs throughout the rainy season without interruption. In previous years we were at the mercy of the weather and would sometimes have to cancel programs if it would start to rain, as we had no indoor facilities to feed 200 or 300 children at a time. This year with the new food distribution hall we will be able to continue all programs without worry for the weather. The hall will measure 56 feet x 26 feet and will allow us to feed 300 to 350 children at one time. When not being used for food distribution, the hall will be used to conduct classes for the 150 children who attend our educational programs each day.
[ Below are some pictures showing the site of the school project before, during and after land filling work commenced, as well as pictures of our daily programs being conducted for children at the Bhaktivedanta Ashram. ]