In 2008, the Good Karma Projects were first inspired by Katherine Footer, Ankit Sood and the Kullu Project, during Ana Grillo's travels as a volunteer photographer in India. Ana photographed several orphanages, schools, women cooperatives and boy's vocational programs, helping the Kullu Project develop their first website. She left envisioning the day when she would return and make it possible for others to volunteer as a devotional practice, in the one of the most beautiful places on Earth, the Great Himalayan mountains of northern India.
We will be spending most of our time in the northern state of Himachel Pradesh. The travel guide, Lonely Planet writes this about Himachel Pradesh, "With spectacular peaks and gorgeous river valleys, Himachal is India’s outdoor adventure playground. From trekking and climbing to rafting, paragliding and skiing, if it can be done in the mountains, it can be done here. Yet Himachal offers much more than just a quick fix of alpine adrenaline.
Across the state, traditional Himachali culture flourishes amid Himalayan landscapes. Villages perched on staggering slopes enchant with fairy tale wood-and-stone architecture and the easygoing grace of the people who live there. Elsewhere, hill stations appeal with colonial-era charm, while groovy backpacker magnets lure with their blissed-out vibe and mountain trails.
In many places, you might think you’ve stumbled into Tibet. But the ancient Buddhist monasteries, troves of Buddhist arts, and the home-away-from-home of the Dalai Lama are just another part of the essence of Himachal.
Via WIkipedia, you can read about the Great Himalayan National Park here and the state of Himachel Pradesh here. Travel guide, Lonely Planet offers great information on their site as well: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/india/himachal-pradesh/great-himalayan-national-park http://www.lonelyplanet.com/india/himachal-pradesh
Who we work for and with...
Biodiversity Tourism and Community Advancement
KULLU DISTRICT, HIMACHAL PRADESH
An NGO, Biodiversity Tourism Community Advancement (BTCA), was set up in 2000 by the Park Administration of Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP) to address the economic needs of 2400 poor households living in the Park's Buffer Zone. GHNP supports a unique biota of many distinct altitude-sensitive ecosystems and is home to a number of IUCN listed species.
BTCA works with 70 Women's Savings and Credit Groups (WSCG) to generate alternate livelihoods such as, vermicomposting, apricot oil production, ecotourism, handicraft skills and organic farming, to reduce pressure on the alpine meadows and other ecosystems in the park. Bans of livestock grazing and NTFP (Non-timber forest product) collection have further increased density of rare herbs and herbivores such as ghoral, Himalayan tahr, musk deer, blue sheep and pheasants. Through these activities, the WSCGs earn more than 15 lakh rupees (approx. 24,000 USD) annually, which to some extent compensates for the loss to the villagers due to the creation of the Park.
BTCA is now working on second generation issues of link local produce to external markets and establishing sustainable eco-tourism in the area. The joint effort has empowered the community socially, economically and intellectually.
Our Good Karma Projects will follow the direction of these local groups with the essential support of Ankit Sood and his Sunshine Himalayan Adventures eco-tourism agency, while we donate our time in ways that help perpetuate sustainable growth and mutually beneficial relationships. In the end, we will create a international network of Good Karma Ambassadors and other volunteers who will continue to donate services in ways that make positive change.