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Just over 2 weeks after our last report, violent earthquakes and tremors in the earth’s crust below Mount Agung indicated an imminent eruption of the Agung volcano, resulting in the government instructing on 21st September that all those living within a 12km radius of the volcano, which included all of the 19 hamlets in our village of Desa Ban, evacuate immediately to safer locations. Our Daya Bamboo Workshop, only 6km from the crater, was immediately evacuated and all our tools and equipment loaded onto the back of our pickup trucks and taken north to our relocated EBPP HQ at the Tianyar Timor house of Komang Kurniawan, EBPP Chairman and Team Leader, 15km from the crater, near the Amlapura-Singaraja coast road. The attached photos show our team moving the large copy lathe, also given a temporary new home at Komang’s house.

Fortunately, on the 3rd of October, our bamboo bike building was able to resume in a borrowed EWABI workshop in Canggu, just 4km from EBPP Denpasar office, as six of our Bamboo Bike team, who are from Pengalusan and Cegi hamlets (located on Mount Agung slopes 2,000 metres below the crater), evacuated their families to Government camps in Gianyar and Denpasar, and were eager to work! Deni Nugraha, our Bamboo Bike Team Leader, restructured the team, collected all the equipment needed from East Bali and the team continued building bamboo bikes!

After completing five bamboo Mountain Bike (MTB) frames for EWABI, our team built a bamboo tandem bike, designed by Deni and ordered by EWABI, which when completed was ridden around some of the key Denpasar landmarks to promote bamboo bikes, as shown in the photos.

Following the tandem, our bamboo bike team started initially building MTB’s which we will market and sell under our Vebacon social enterprise company, branded as “East Bali Bamboo Bikes”, and promote on our new website, (presently under construction), with orders already coming in from a UK customer, who will promote in England later this month and also a potential order from an Australian cycling club, who have asked for bamboo ‘city bikes’, which we are presently building. The key difference between the MTB and the city bike is the gears, whereby most city bikes are single speed, and the first we have built includes a small bamboo luggage rack at the rear, as shown in the photo.

Mount Agung Eruption Update: Mount Agung started erupting on 25th November with huge ash and gas clouds reaching as high as 7,000 metres above the 3,142 metres crater, prompting further immediate evacuations, due to the dangers of the ash falls and many lahars (thick cold volcanic ash slurry gushing down dry riverbeds throughout our village) for communities which had been allowed to return home on the 29th October. Whilst our team continues living with the uncertainties of if/when they will ever be able to go home, they continue building bikes in Canggu/Denpasar and hope that bamboo bike sales will increase their income so that they can offset the huge losses they have incurred due to rapid sale, at less than cost price, of livestock to save the lives of these helpless animals and income from cash crops, which are completely lost.

We sincerely thank all of our GlobalGiving donors who have helped make our community-based bamboo business vision a reality and hope you will join us in further developing the bamboo bike and other businesses to empower our Desa Ban communities, which we hope will very soon be led by EBPP schools high school graduates and foresee, depending on the Mount Agung situation, the bamboo bike business expanding to all of our communities. Towards this end, we are updating our “Build a Bamboo Workshop” campaign to seek seed funding for our Social Enterprise where all profits will support EBPP field activities, not only bamboo projects, but also for total community empowerment through bamboo based livelihoods business development.

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