The artistic institutions’ Anandaloy’ and ‘METI School’ are made of natural materials
By Zeba Tarannum
Bangladesh: Rudrapur village of Dinajpur is situated at Mangalpur Union of Biral Upazila. Deepshikha (The Flame of the Lamp) Non-Formal Education, Training and Research Society for Village Development is a voluntary organization.
After going inside the boundary, a two-story building will be seen. ‘Deepshikha’ is written in it. Green grass is in the field. The atmosphere is surrounded by a lot of flowers and obsessed with fragrance. Excellent environment with birds chirping. Cold weather. Without noise anywhere.
The community therapy center called Anandaloy (Pleasure house) is located just behind the building. Crossing tall betel trees on either side of the road and going towards this earthen building is a sight to behold. The ground floor is fully used for children with disabilities.
Inside the house, there is a cave made of clay. The children play and enjoy there. Walking inside the cave is a kind of exercise for the disabled; it is a part of their daily treatment. The building has easy access to light and air. The houses are entirely eco-friendly and have special arrangements to facilitate the movement of the disabled.
The two-story building at Anandaloy in Dinajpur has been designed to keep the natural balance so that disabled and wheelchair users can easily move from one room to another and from the first floor to the second floor.
There is a pond to the south of Anandaloy and METI School to the west-north. This is also a two-story building. The two buildings are built in the same style. Besides, there are sewing training centers, separate rooms for various technical training, office rooms, and prayer rooms in the whole area.
The remote rural area of Dinajpur is well known for its eye-catching Anandaloy and METI School. To meet the social and architectural challenges, to increase the quality of education of marginalized and backward communities, disability service activities and technical training are being imparted in the two-story centers.
The architectural style of Anandaloy is diversified and unique, made of entirely natural materials such as clay, bamboo, straw, rope, sand, cement, wood, etc. It was designed by the famous German architect Anna Herringer who recently received the international award Obel for this design. She also received the Aga Khan Architecture Award in 2007 for METI School, an educational institution built with the same materials.
Crowds of visitors visit the METI School in Dinajpur every day to see the two artistic buildings built of natural materials. The number of tourists, including domestic and international students, is increasing day by day. However, due to the COVID-19, the opportunity to see the architectural style is given for 10-15 minutes.
According to a guest from Dhaka, “I have come to visit a relative’s house in Setabganj of Dinajpur. I have been wanting to see Anandaloy and METI School for a long time. To be honest, I couldn’t believe that a house made of clay could be so beautiful without seeing it with my own eyes.”
Another guest from Dhaka said, “Not only is the clay-made house, but the secluded natural environment of this area is also quite enjoyable. My mind has filled by coming here. In remote areas, Deepshikha’s activities in education, technical education, and welfare of the disabled deserve appreciation.”
A visitor said, “I have heard many praises before, so came to visit with my family. The craftsmanship and construction style of the earthen and bamboo school is astonishing.”
For the public benefits from health care, conventional education, and technical education in the two long-lasting and sustainable buildings of Anandaloy was built in Dinajpur. The eco-friendly and comfortable Anandaloy and METI school rooms feel cold in summer and hot in winter.
It’s been made in such a way that they do not get cracked or rot, do not erode, break, and not get damaged by rain. The walls of the whole building contain a certain proportion of soil, sand, and cement. Palm oil and soap have been used for the plaster of the ground floor and the second floor.
Serajul Islam, Chairman of Mangalpur Union Parishad in Biral, said the organization has been serving the poor and backward people for over 20 years.
The quality of education in the village has increased through METI School. Due to technical education, many will become educated. Besides, due to the building of physiotherapy centers, no one has to go to Dhaka or the city for treatment, and the medical expenses are also affordable.’
Deepshikha in Dinajpur was established in 1978. Initially, its job was to work for the socio-economic development of landless, marginal farmers, hardworking and backward people in remote rural areas. Deepshikha was registered with the Bangladesh NGO Bureau in 1985.
In September 1999, the Modern Education and Training Institute (METI) School was built on a short scale. Along with educating the children of the local backward communities from first to tenth class, it gives importance to various essential education such as dance, song, acting, debate, and culture education.
The organization builds an eco-friendly community therapy center, ‘Anandaloy’ for the disabled. Its journey started on November 14, 2019. It provides physiotherapy, exercise, and education for the rehabilitation, empowerment, and civic development of children with disabilities. Suitable and accessible building for the disabled has been constructed at the cost of Taka 7.3 million. There is a textile institute for women on the second floor.
The Kaderi Charitable Foundation, a Hong Kong-based Charity, is funding the Anandaloy therapy and Education, Improving the Lives of People with Disabilities (ILPD) project of Dinajpur.
Five hundred low-income families in rural areas, especially landless, day laborers, marginalized people (anthropological population of the plains, children-adolescent-women, and disabled people) are covered under this project.
The purpose of this project is to improve the children and adolescents with disabilities, Physical activities of young people and the improvement of their living standard, to continue the education of children by creating a helpful and joint learning environment in schools, increase livelihood opportunities and create a possibility of income generation activities for people with disabilities and their parents by 25 percent and mobilize the people at the community level towards the disabled.
For this, Anandalaya conducts various activities, including physiotherapy services, providing educational assistance to the disabled, inclusive livelihood development, and raising awareness.
Jagadish Chandra Ray, Executive Director of Deepshikha, said, Deepshikha mainly developed for landless, marginal farmers, working and backward people in remote areas.
We are working for the socio-economic development of these people. In continuation of this, METI School has been built to improve local students’ quality of education. Last year, Anandaloy was set up to provide medical treatment and improve the quality of life of the disabled in the area. Besides, various technical training, including sewing, is given here.