November 15 2019

Health and Happiness: The Benefits of Environmental Sustainability

Karuna-Shechen’s projects are developed to serve the needs of villagers and communities in remote and under-served areas of Nepal, India, and Tibet. While we gauge success based on the number of people served and the ways in which our project goals are met, it is the stories of the people themselves — those who are impacted and whose lives are transformed — that are often the best way to measure the outcomes of our work.

Growing Sustainable Hope in the Himalayas

Year after year, an efficient, impactful project yields outstanding results for the overall health and well-being of villagers in both India and Nepal. Our Kitchen Garden program teaches people in need to grow sustainable, nutritious gardens using traditional techniques and environmentally friendly methods such as rainwater harvesting and organic, natural fertilizers and pesticides.

Sangita lives in Janakpur, Nepal with her husband, 2 sons, and a daughter. “Before, I used a lot of chemical fertilizers and pesticides,” says Sangita, “That was how I was trained to do it, and I never realized the health impact. This kitchen garden training really opened my eyes. I will now only prepare organic manure and compost, and I will also use seeds which gives better nutritional value.”

Bhavani and Sarat mention that the produce from the seeds distributed by Karuna Shechen India is sufficient for both of them. “It takes effort to tend the seeds until they bear fruit, but it is better and cheaper than buying vegetables from the market.” Initially, they would buy from the market, and the vegetables would not remain fresh. They had to consume them quickly and could not store them for more than a day.  Repeated trips to the market was time consuming and expensive. Having vegetables in their own garden has made it easier for them to eat fresh vegetables regularly. Bhavani and Sarat mainly grow gourds and spinach. They are also able to sell the surplus that they produced, increasing the benefits of their kitchen garden.

By teaching and supporting villagers to grow their own food using environmentally-friendly methods, our Kitchen Garden program helps the Earth, the villagers, and generations to come.

Environmentally Strengthening Infrastructure

Through environmentally-friendly techniques, our programs improve the well-being and quality of life of hundreds of thousands of people each year — while working holistically to preserve natural resources and tend to the Earth. As described by two of our beneficiaries, projects done in sustainable ways bring benefits that dramatically improve the lives of villagers.

Sudamiya Devi comes from Dema, a village where there were no toilets a few years ago. It was humiliating for the women to use the outdoors, and they were concerned that their daughters would have to undergo the same discomfort and humiliation. Motivated to build toilets in her village, Sudamiya approached Karuna-Shechen to help her. She managed to collect half of the required funds and also mobilized voluntary labour (shramdaan) to build the toilets free of cost. Today, her neighbors also use the toilet, and the remaining villagers are motivated by her resourcefulness. More toilets are now set to be constructed in their village!

Laxmi Kumari’s house received a home solar light in 2018, and we visited her in April of 2019 to see how she was doing. Laxmi has been widowed for 25 years, and she has been living alone for 5 years. She used to have a small kerosene lamp to light her home before she received a solar set.  She said she used to sleep at 7 PM and even though she got up at 3 AM, she used to stay in bed and only got up when she could see at 6AM. But with the solar lights, her schedule has become more flexible. “I can’t work as fast since I am old,” she says. “Now with the lights, I can work slowly, sleep a bit later, and wake up slowly.  I find if very helpful.” Laxmi made tea for us to show her gratitude, even though we insisted it wasn’t necessary.

Improving Quality of Life, Sustainably

By focusing our projects on methods that integrate environmentally-friendly practices, Karuna-Shechen not only improves the quality of life of the villagers and the well-being of communities we serve, but also promotes the holistic care of the environment. We train our beneficiaries to learn and use sustainable practices, working with the environment to make progress that not only benefits themselves in the short term but also invests in the health and well-being of the environment for the long term — so that we can continue to share stories of health, happiness, and well-being from our beneficiaries for years to come.

Please join us as we work together with people in need in the Himalayas. 

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