If the recent years have taught us something, it’s that life is unpredictable and all you need is faith, strength and the will to come back stronger. 2022 was the year when we got back on our feet after two long years of the ongoing pandemic.
We continued to move forward with our passion for sustainability, mountain travel, and commitment to making a difference in the valley with our development projects, travel and volunteer programs running in full swing where we hosted some of the most talented and dedicated folks across the country!
A quick glance at how we were able to leave a positive impact with our interventions -
- 8000+ dental treatments undertaken across rural India - Spiti and Chhattisgarh
- 1 Solar Water Pump installed
- 14 Solar Passive Rooms built
- 5 scholarships provided
- 300+ stray dogs fed through the winter
- Support to traditional systems of healing & health.
Taking Oral Health to the next level
Oral health is severely ignored in most parts of rural India and more so in Spiti, due to the limited access to treatments and oral health education.
We started our Saving Smiles program in 2021 with the objective to make dental treatments accessible to all along with a focus on oral health education, across Spiti and Chhattisgarh.
In 2022, we organized free dental camps across the villages of Demul, Dhankar, Pin, Losar, Lingti, Kaza Public School and in the interiors of Chhatisgarh, treating 5000+ patients with our dental team undertaking 8000+ treatments.
A hands-on Oral Health Education camp was organized for the students of Kaza Public School by our dental team and volunteers. The camp was a huge success and our team of dentists also administered sealants to prevent further caries in the kids teeth.
Year-round access to water for 1 more village
Water sources are significantly far from most villages in Spiti - especially in the winter when most water sources freeze over. Villagers have to walk for kilometres every day in sub-zero temperatures just to get a 20-liter can of drinking water or water for cooking, household activities, livestock and personal hygiene.
To make this arduous task slightly easier and to provide equitable access to water we’ve been setting up solar water pumps in Spiti since the last few years. This year, we set up a solar water pump in another village - Quiling!
Solar Passive Rooms for 14 families
Did you know that temperatures can go as low as - 30 degrees in the peak winters in Spiti? Staying warm during the winters isn't easy. The locals have devised ways whereby the whole shifts into one room - the kitchen - which becomes the centre of all the activities in a local Spitian home as it’s really difficult to keep all the rooms heated, especially when burning fuelwood is the only way to generate heat.
Fuelwood however is brought all the way from Manali or further away. This turns out to be very heavy on one’s pocket apart from the tonnes of carbon emissions it creates.
To make the lives of locals easier, we’ve been using an environment and pocket-friendly solution - Solar Passive Rooms over the years. These rooms absorb and retain solar heat longer using affordable technologies improving access to reliable, sustainable, and affordable energy for local communities and reducing dependence on expensive carbon-emitting fuel wood.
This also leads to the reduction of cold and smoke-related illnesses and people are able to spend more time on various income-generating activities such as creating handmade socks, shawls, etc.
In 2022, we set up 14 passive rooms in Demul, Langza, Rama, Lingti, Lidang, Rangrik and Shego helping to stay warm without burning tons of wood.
Access to Nutrition through the year for 6 families
The six-month long winter brings numerous challenges along with it, one of them being no access to fresh vegetables and nutrition as roads to most villages get snowed in. Also, most of the vegetables available during the winters are centered around the urban areas and not accessible to villagers in remoter areas.
This year, we built 6 more greenhouses in the villages of Lidang, Demul & Shego providing access to green vegetables through the year.
Access to Education
Education in the rural villages of Spiti is a luxury many families cannot afford. Even though Government schooling is largely free, the quality of education is not good and parents prefer sending their kids to private schools in Kaza. In Spiti, it's also common practice for youth to opt for a monastic way of life. We’ve been providing scholarships for many years now to support single parents or low-income families to provide their children with quality education or the option of joining a monastic way of life.
This year too, scholarships were being provided to 6 kids from Pin, Poh, Komic, Demul and a nun from Lhalung!
Winters in Spiti are not just difficult for the people but also for our little friends who struggle to find enough food to survive and get through these extreme weather conditions. Kaza has the maximum number of dogs, and unlike in summer when a lot of restaurants, hotels, etc. are open due to the active tourism season, in winter, there is limited to no food available - leading them to either starve or even worse eat the weaker ones or the little pups for survival.
Along with the amazing women of Menthok Self Help Group, we continue with our Winter Dog Feeding Program feeding 300+ strays through the winter.
Why do we run this program?
Extreme hunger apart from the obvious, also causes the dogs to start attacking and hunting livestock or wildlife and at times even humans. Feeding them helps to prevent them from turning wild and makes them more amiable and easier to catch for neutering in order to control their population.
Responsible Tourism in Lahaul
We’ve been running responsible tourism initiatives in Spiti for the last two decades, giving travelers the opportunity to leave an everlasting positive impact on the culture, environment and economy of Spiti Valley. This year, we collaborated with the Eicher Goodearth Foundation to look at possible responsible tourism interventions in the Lahaul Valley, Himachal Pradesh.
Support to Amchi
The traditional system of medicine practiced in Spiti finds its roots from the art and science of Tibetan medicine, also known as ‘Sowa Rigpa’. This is one of the world’s oldest known forms of traditional medicine.
The Amchis (traditional doctors) spend their lives mastering the understanding and use of rare, highly adaptive plants and herbs that grow in the Himalayas from which they make their medicines. They diagnose illnesses by reading the pulse and urine analysis. We supported Chhering Norbu (a traditional Amchi of great repute in the valley and also part of our team) to procure herbs so he could continue treating 100’s of patients across Spiti.
Volunteers make our world go round!
We started our volunteering programs in May this year where we hosted a talented pool of folks across the country who got involved in our various initiatives or cause-driven enterprises. They helped us in:
Sol Café - our Café with a Cause:
Spiti saw a strong inflow of tourists from May this year. Our Sol Café was up and running with intrepid travellers from across the globe with a delightful aroma of coffee and stories of people from different walks of life filling in the atmosphere.
Thank you to each of our Sol Volunteers who made this possible: Nida, Simran, Shreyas, Jatin, Radhika, Rishabh, Shruti and Geetika.
Taste of Spiti - our fusion Restaurant:
Tate of Spiti - a restaurant in the bylanes of Kaza offering a fusion of traditional Spitian food and world cuisine. Promoting the local food, an insight into the culture, and the goodness of Spitian ingredients!
Thank you to each of our volunteers for their contribution: Dimple, Keerthana and Aishani.
Create for a Cause and Internships:
Our team of creative talents helped us creatively document Ecosphere and MUSE initiatives in Spiti. Our warm gratitude to Avanti, Surya, Jocelyn and Sakshi.
Teaching in a nunnery:
Thank you Prarthana, Prachi, Charu and Poojitha for helping us bridge the gap between the rural and urban worlds by sharing your knowledge with the nuns here in Spiti and sprucing up their English and Computer skills.
Agriculture is the mainstay of Spiti’s economy however, it’s limited to only one crop a year due to the difficult climatic conditions the farmers face in this cold desert region. These farmers sweat their hearts out during the short summers as the entire year’s livelihood depends on it. The population being so small, every pair of helping hands is of great value to them! Thank you Meenakshi, Prashant, Durga and Aneeka for giving a hand and learning more about the unique agricultural practices.
What we do in Spiti would not be possible without the support of our incredible partners. We would like to express our gratitude and thanks to:
- Eicher Goodearth Foundation
- Sunlit Futures
- Grundfos Foundation
- Adna Global
2022 was a year of growth and learnings as we rebuilt ourselves after two long years of the pandemic. Looking at 2023 with a hopeful heart and the strength to move forward!
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