Jeanne from France – This last July 2017, I have been in Sahainan in order to film the making of a hand charcoal water filter. I was commissioned by a French NGO dedicated to gather documentation about this kind of self made technologies that answer the basic needs of households or local communities in a sustainable way. We were supposed to install the filter in the school of the village which, with the help of the « souls » of Sahainan, Sandot and his companion Shen, has become widely dedicated to the teaching of permaculture. Located on the Nan River, this is the « last » village » before the unhabited forest that stretched to the Laos border.
I thought I would come only for the purpose of filming the water filter. But, at thevery moment I stepped in my wooden hut elevated above the forest, and then, barefoot in the ground sowing rice surrounded by wild forest, I was overwhelmed by he peculiar spirit of the place : a sense of being across the world that is more and more difficult to meet, and a serious but soothing labor going on. Each day, if I opened my eyes and ears, I could learn a million things about nature and the living in harmony with her, tricks to do it, the efficiency needed, ever recycling and reusing things, a school of life I would have preferred to have been since a younger age.
Before coming, I frankly knew nothing about permaculture, and I must say I still not theoretically because I hadn’t the time to follow the monthly class going on there. But in only one week, I can say I acquire a deep sense or intuition of what it would be, only by giving the little help I could, and observing. I found it deeply reassuring and simple, as things actually should be and work according to natural laws.
Anywhere he was, Sandot couldn’t help but use his machete to transform the abundant bamboo of Sahainan within reach in a million kinds of tools and materials. Magician-like, he could made chopstick, pliers, stair ramp, doors, and manifold links and bamboo « elastics » whenever he needed to tie something. With coconut matting, he designed in no more than 2 secs a brush to spread ciment. I guess that before using a machete like that, you need a life long training… But the material was just at hand and he made the best out of it.
Not only Sahainan is the world of ancestral wisdoms but also of great inventiveness and day to day experimentation. The highlight of the show and a great group shared experience was the making of the water filter with the school children, the volunteers, and the « students » come from all over the world to follow Sahainan permaculture classes. With everybody good will and energy, we cleaned and piled the various layers of stones, ashes, gravel and charcoal that would allow us to drink a wonderfully mineral tasted water coming straight from the spring nearby. That was the occasion, too, to share sticky rice and delicious stews from Shen in the majestic adobe classroom of the village. That was a great time.
For all these knowledges generously given, the simple and happy life I experimented in Sahainan that I am already so nostalgic, I would like to thank Shen and Sandot and can only encourage the curious, sustainibility and nature interested people of the world to leave their bags here for a little while, open wide ears and eyes, and learn from the last people who know how to live and persevere in their dreams !