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    The Cuckoo Movement builds their first school via a 10-day workshop, where volunteers get to learn a green life skill

    For the past four days, a group of people from different parts of the country have been camping near the Puliyanur Village at the edge of a forest — building by day and resting by night. Over the next six days, they hope to finish the clay building they are creating from scratch, using only natural resources available in their surroundings. This will be the Cuckoo Forest School, a place where children will get to learn life skills varying from making sops, to paper, yarn and more. “We initaily set up libraries for kids in schools and concentrated on workshops that the children themselves could decide upon. But we always wanted to have a place of our own and purchased this land four years ago,” says Senthil Kumar Jayaraj, who started the Cuckoo Movement along with friends Suresh, Alageshwari K and Peterjeyaraj K, back in 2004.

    T67C6655Learning curve
    When it’s ready, this two-storey building will be capable accommodating 50 people on each floor. And while the volunteers working on it have probably never built more than an appetite before, they are working under architects Varun Thautam and Jeremie Gaudin, who specialise in ‘building with natural resources’ and ‘energy saving in modern buildings’, respectively. “The volunteers are essentially learning to make low cost shelters with all natural materials and leaving a carbon footprint that is almost zero,” says Thautam, who is teaching volunteers between 12 to 35 years old. After initial lessons on simple skills like making sun-dried bricks, these volunteers, some of whom have come from as far as Nagaland and New Delhi, are looking forward to advanced tasks like building the domes and vaults. Save for the plastering and lime washing that will be done by a small group of professionals (because the durability of the clay building will depend on these), the volunteers, who are working nearly 10 hours a day, will complete everything else.

    Workshops arena
    Post construction, this building will initailly run on a temporary power solution. But Jayaraj and his team, who have organised the workshop at a cost of two and a half lakhs, are looking at moving towards solar power in future. “The workshop is free for anyone. But many of our participants have contributed towards their meals during the workshop,” he says.
    Gearing up to launch the space by the end of August, Jayaraj says that this alternative school will welcome everyone. “This will benefit the children in the surrounding villages who are in government schools and also those who are under home schooling,” he says, sharing that their aim is to come up with several workshops that will teach these children what were once household skills. “Like extracting oil, which used to done at home years ago,” he concludes.
    Thye Cuckoo Forst School will launch in August. Details: 9965689020

    Ryan Peppin

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