Report on Rebuilding Bungamati by Dikshya Karki (22.6.2015)

Bungamati Update Almost two months into the initiation of the ‚Rebuilding Bungamati‘ project by Sujan Chitrakar, academic co-ordinator of KU Art+Design, he speaks enthusiastically of its second phase. Since the project’s inception, he has been emphasizing on his plan to merge the course studies of the degree he heads with the voluntary effort he initiated at the wake of the devastating earthquake that took the lives of more than 8,000 in Nepal.   As classes have begun for the students, he says that life can’t go on as it used to, “ Our course of life has changed and there is no way we can teach or work under the same module, our course of studies also has to change,” After the School’s building in Hattiban was destroyed by the earthquake the school now runs from an array of sheds that was recently built in its premise.   “ We have slowed down our immediate relief activities in Bungamati but are planning for long term projects that come out of collaborative efforts between the students and the community,” he says. He wants to align the courses of the Bachelors in Fine Art degree offered by Kathmandu University with different projects being initiated under the ‚Rebuilding Bungamati‘ project. Volunteers in the project who have been faculty members and students of the University are already engaged in different outreach projects which have included shelter building, sanitation awareness, play space making for kids to mural making in and around Bungamati.   This week Xavi Bech De Careda, an Advertisement professional based in Mumbai facilitated a workshop for the fourth year Graphic Communication students on ‚Branding Bungamati‘. With questions and group exercises designed to encourage students to flesh out their final projects Xavi sought out to inspire students to dream of a vision for Bungamati. “ I see huge potential for the project, it can serve as an artistic model for the world,” he says. “ But the students themselves must know why they are creatively pursuing their projects, then they must move to what they are doing and how they can do it.”   Fourth year students of the Bachelors in Fine Arts including other volunteers from the project attended the workshop which is just one among a series of yet to follow. A workshop on digitial storytelling was also organised for the students by Elisabeth and Willemijin.   “ In the next weeks performance artist Salil Subedi will facilitate a workshop for Third year students for a public performance in Bungamati while students continue with art sessions and other activities for the school children of Bungamati,” Chitrakar informs.   Besides aligning courses with the Bungamati project work is already underway for making a 3-D model of the Macchindra Tole in Bungamati which is being done by professionals from the University of Maryland, U.S.A. Chitrakar is hopeful about other collaborative projects with experts and community artists from all around the world. “I want international artists to bring their projects to Bungamati so that we can design courses for the students with participation of the community,” he says.   (Since May 6, 2015 project ‚Rebuilding Bungamati‘ which includes volunteers from KU Art+Design has been working in the village of Bungamati, the home of the Rato Machhidranath to ease the pain of the community which has suffered huge structural loss after the earthquakes on April 25 and May 12. The group built around 30 temporary shelters, a few toilets and a bathing space for the community, organised and has been continuing art sessions for children, built a play space for the kids, facilitated a trauma relief session for the kids and community by Neeva Pradhan, vaccinated street dogs in Bungamati area, made murals and continue to document the lives of the villagers in Bungamati through photography and conversations with them on its rich social, cultural and historical heritage. ) Dikshya Karki, researcher, Bhaktapur 20.6.2015