This section of the site is dedicated to the sustainable development projects I’ve been involved with over the past few years and continue to support. These organizations are making remarkable positive changes in their communities.
In the summer of 2009, I traveled deep into the Himalayan desert plains of north India in a region known as Spiti. The purpose of the trip was to work alongside NGO Spiti Ecosphere and build a greenhouse at an altitude of 12,500 ft for a Buddhist monastery.
Ishita Khanna, founder of Spiti Ecosphere, works to enable local communities to adapt to the harsh realities of climate change. The area of Spiti has forever relied on government subsidies. However, Ishita discovered ways for local women to harvest the seabuckthorn berry, a highly nutritious fruit only found in dry mountain climates. Soon enough, women were earning a livelihood making juices, dry teas, and jellies.
Ecosphere is also building solar-passive homes that use solar energy to warm their houses in the winter months as an alternative to burning firewood. The result is that they’ve cut down fossil fuel consumption by an incredible 50%.
The organization, run by local hires, also promotes eco-tourism through homestays, hiking tours, and volunteer work.
Spiti is in an extremely remote location in the state of Himachal Pradesh. During the unforgiving winters, the road to Spiti is often blocked with snow and extremely dangerous, making it difficult for food supplies to come in. As a result, Spitians suffer from malnutrition and can only rely on dry staple foods. The greenhouse project that we were involved with allows communities to have a sustainable year-round supply of fresh vegetables.
I won’t go on and on about the details of our adventures in the Himalayas, you can read about them in the article in The National Newspaper and/or watch the video piece on building the greenhouse in the videos section.
The Kanga Project
Singida known as the “forgotten” region of Tanzania is the poorest region in the country. The Kanga Project is an organization that supports education and development in the small town of Ilongero within the Singida region. Tanzania’s economy thrives off tourism and agriculture (especially yummy Kilimanjaro coffee beans). Unfortunately, Ilongero is in a very arid region with no tourism, little arable soil, unpredictable rains and cold nights. The Kanga Project works with the Rural Women’s Development Association to build schools, co-op programs, education centers as well as offer micro-finance training programs for women looking to make a steady income.
In pursuit of a challenge and inspired by our trip to the Himalayas, Ismat and I decided to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in the summer of 2010. Many people climb the “Kili” for their own causes, however we felt the need to give back to the Tanzanian community – since after all we were climbing their mountain.
We contacted the Kanga Project right away, and found that they were in need of £5000 to buy a solar powered chicken incubator for the women of Ilongero village. Soon enough, our goals were set, our funds were raised and we were good to go.
You can read Ismat’s article about our Kilimanjaro trek, visiting Ilongero, and chilling out in Zanzibar. Click on the links to learn more about The Kanga Project’s economic opportunities and proposed training center.