Zaller’s Pakistan mission taking on life of its own
Greg Zaller’s mission to help Pakistani mountain dwellers rebound from last year’s devastating earthquake is taking on a life of its own.
Zaller originally went to Pakistan after the October 2005 earthquake instead of taking his annual vacation. The Nevada County homebuilder figured he could build small houses for victims out of wood and sheet-metal and got those efforts off the ground during his first trip.
Zaller recently returned from his second trip to the devastated area, where he constructed a women’s vocational center with straw bales.
Now Pakistanis in the town and area of Balakot have the expertise and two straw bale machines to continue rebuilding their community.
“They love it,” Zaller said Wednesday. “They don’t have an alternative, the mud and wood buildings fall down,” which the Pakistanis had routinely built in the past.
Zaller learned about the straw bale technique from Darcey Donovan of Truckee, an expert in the field who had read about him in The Union. She and her husband are currently building a straw bale home for themselves and thought her expertise could help.
Donovan will leave Friday for Pakistan with two men who want to learn about straw-bale construction. She plans to give them a full education.
“The idea is to replicate what Greg did,” Donovan said. “We’ll train students and once they’re trained, they can keep it going … It’s the right thing to do.”
Zaller said he plans to return to Pakistan in August, but this time, he hopes to implement a teaching program he has been interested in for some time.
“It’s a school model where the teacher is the example for the students,” Zaller said. “It gives them the responsibility they crave.”
To contact senior staff writer Dave Moller, e-mail davem@the union.com or call 477-4327.
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