Rural Uttarakhand is one of the most pristine pieces of Earth - yet, lacks development that urban folks take for granted. An ATM is 4 hours of a drive and a days wage away. Average education is under matriculation. The average income of a household is less than US$ 200 per month. Healthcare is hard to come by. The populace lives under what could be described as the most backward conditions and is causing a very large scale migration. The youth are shunning poverty and escaping to already overcrowded Megapolises - thus causing a two fold harm. Adding stress on fraying, urban infrastructures, while abandoning a very rich environmental heritage that is today worth far more than can be imagined in pure monetary terms.
Since there is not sufficient education given (in guiding the rural poor on what is the importance of the treasures that they have inherited), combined with investments in viable option to economically progress in the rural areas, migration has become the norm. Should this migration and abandoning of village be prevented? Should the local folk be given help in understanding how their lives can improve? Should the bounty of natural treasures they sit upon, be created into exquisite products for the world to benefit from?
That it needs to be done, without allowing for exploitation is the evident answer.
How? That's where The Himalayan Collective comes in. We seek to make a huge difference by a) Demonstrating what can be done to really improve the standard of living with what is available in this area (such as exotic herbs, improved farming practices, using technology to earn higher, developing products using local flora) and b) Investing our funds, experience and time to create infrastructures for production, storage, food processing, packaging and distribution.
To help this goal, we need to raise additional funds that will eventually impact the lives of more than 50,000 people - in addition to making great products available to the wide world.
The viability of this is already proven by all the work we have done since shifting here:
1. We have worked closely with telecom companies to bring connectivity to this area. The area that had no access to internet ever, today has low cost 4G - which is helping them with education on crop protection, fair rates and financial/ transactional activities. We have helped provide free 4G sim cards to more than 10,000 families within less than 4 months.
2. We have helped the local women earn in thousands for first time - by helping them create Rhododendron Juice and Rhododendron soaps. These exquisite products have found acceptance in urban areas.
3. We have helped some local growers to double the rate at which they sold their products - purely by helping them eliminate the middlemen
4. We have conducted training sessions on how to learn new skills that can help with income (mobile phone repairing and mobile tower maintenance are two examples)
In our first year, we did all the above on very marginal scales - to test the viability. We are now desirous of scaling our efforts and leveraging what we have already done - so that larger numbers can be helped.
We have done all that is in our capacity - given up luxurious lifestyles and glamorous careers, physically shifted into an area that presents enormous hardships (for instance, our home does not have an electricity connection and we survive in extreme conditions using only solar energy), we are investing all our experience and time to actively educate the populace and we have invested very portions of our savings to ensure that the money needed for all the above is available.
We need more - and that is where you come in. Do support this unique and novel cause. It will help more educated, successful urban to make a difference where it is really needed. And thousands of rural poor will bless you for it!