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Solid Help For Humanitarian Aid? Introducing, The Concrete Tent

Concrete Canvas, YouTube


CARDIFF - Introducing the concrete tent: It’s made of a material called Concrete Canvas and needs only water and air to "pitch it."

The material has all the elements of concrete, but is flexible enough to move before it hardens. Inspired by plaster casts for broken bones, the fibers of the materials evenly absorb the water. After the water is introduced, it takes 5 hours to harden and become completely solid.

The material comes in an outer plastic casing, into which 800-1000 liters of water is added. Then, it is inflated using a leaf blower and a car, or other method of towing to drag out the 50m2 structure. In just 24 hours, a totally solid structure can be erected.

It is being touted as a way to revolutionize the way that humanitarian aid is delivered in disaster or conflict zones. With thermal properties -- so it stays warm or cool inside -- it also keeps a sterile environment for surgery or other medical treatment.

The tents are designed to last more than 10 years, and have been created to withstand a high compressive load -- be that sandbags, fill material or even snow. They can also provide protection against shrapnel, blasts and small arms fire.

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Migrant Lives

They Migrated From Chiapas When Opportunities Dried Up, Orchids Brought Them Home

An orchid rehabilitation project is turning a small Mexican community into a tourist magnet — and attracting far-flung locals back to their hometown.

They Migrated From Chiapas When Opportunities Dried Up, Orchids Brought Them Home

Marcos Aguilar Pérez takes care of orchids rescued from the rainforest in his backyard in Santa Rita Las Flores, Mapastepec, Chiapas, Mexico.

Adriana Alcázar González/GPJ Mexico
Adriana Alcázar González

MAPASTEPEC — Sweat cascades down Candelaria Salas Gómez’s forehead as she separates the bulbs of one of the orchids she and the other members of the Santa Rita Las Flores Community Ecotourism group have rescued from the rainforest. The group houses and protects over 1,000 orchids recovered from El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve, in the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas, after powerful storms.

“When the storms and heavy rains end, we climb to the vicinity of the mountains and collect the orchids that have fallen from the trees. We bring them to Santa Rita, care for them, and build their strength to reintegrate them into the reserve later,” says Salas Gómez, 32, as she attaches an orchid to a clay base to help it recover.

Like magnets, the orchids of Santa Rita have exerted a pull on those who have migrated from the area due to lack of opportunity. After years away from home, Salas Gómez was one of those who returned, attracted by the community venture to rescue these flowers and exhibit them as a tourist attraction, which provides residents with an adequate income.

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