For the past year, Karuna-Shechen has worked to develop educational, economic and agricultural programs in the Ruby Valley which are designed to meet specific local challenges. A local office has been opened, and a motivated team is involved on a daily basis to ensure the smooth running of activities and the well-being of the inhabitants. We celebrate their commitment!
Karuna in the Himalayan Valley
The Ruby Valley is a very remote region on the border with Tibet, a two-day journey from Kathmandu. The harsh climatic conditions, monsoon rains and snow on its high peaks make the villages difficult to access due to the underdevelopment of the road network in the region. Aware of the challenges faced by the valley’s inhabitants, Karuna’s local teams in Nepal have initiated programs in the heart of the Ruby Valley where the isolation and transportation difficulties have deterred most other aid organisations. Influenced by the desire to assist villagers in the Himalayas and expanding upon assistance first offered in Tibet, Karuna-Shechen workers arrived in the village of Namsa in 2020 and opened offices there in June 2021.
Supporting food security in the face of bad weather
Since the offices opened last June, four programs have been initiated in this region to address the needs of the local population. Because Karuna committed itself to reducing food insecurity by promoting the establishment of organic vegetable gardens, as well as an infrastructure that will enable these more resilient food practices to become part of the villagers’ habits, this was the first program implemented.
Previously, these villagers had not grown their own fruit and vegetables; the new farming methods allowed them to expand and diversify their crops. Since the program’s inception in this region, over 220 new farmers have joined the project and their farms distinguish themselves by providing new foods that are nutritious and varied, such as cashew nuts, peppers, and kiwis.
“Before being hired as an agricultural technician at Karuna Shechen, I worked for the NGO Himalayan Health Care. I was involved in setting up nurseries, installing vegetable gardens and training local small land holders in gardening techniques. I aspire to get a degree in agriculture: my long-term vision is to contribute to the economic development of farmers in my village through the promotion and introduction of commercial agriculture. I am very happy to join the Karuna family and hope that we can benefit the small land holder farmers in the area.” ~ Ashimita Tamang, Agricultural Technician
Providing better access to care
Our teams also developed health and veterinary care programs to compensate for the lack of access to health care facilities in the region. A health centre was built, and a Covid program, was developed to meet the high demand for care during the pandemic. Livestock owners were provided with vitamins, anti-parasite treatments and medicines to improve the health of their animals and protect them from disease.
A school in Kharsa
The project to build a new school in Kharsa was launched in 2021 by four students from the Rennes School of Architecture, following a series of earthquakes that weakened the existing buildings. The mission is to build a resistant school, adapted to the local climatic conditions, while promoting well-being and interaction between children. To find out more about this project, read the article dedicated to it.
Solar entrepreneurs to light up villages
Access to electricity is another major challenge in the region, which is why Karuna supports the installation of solar panels in the homes of villagers in the Ruby Valley, as well as training some of them in long-term maintenance.
“Because of the lack of light source, we find it very difficult to do the usual household chores in the evening. We can only look after the cattle after dawn.” – Kumari Pariyar, resident of Pinapu, Katari.
After the installation of the solar home system, she is pleased because she will no longer have to work in the dark and her children can now study longer and better in the evening.
Karuna’s programs in Ruby Valley are supported by our partner Palais des Thés, through the “Black Friday for Good” product-sharing operation. In November 2021, François-Xavier Delmas, founder of Palais des Thés, accompanied the Karuna-Shechen teams on visits and meetings with the program’s beneficiaries.
The future of the valley
The objective for the coming years is to consolidate the activities that have been set up in the valley, so that the inhabitants gradually take them over. A survey is currently being carried out to determine the next priority villages for the implementation of our programmes by 2024. Particular attention will be paid to the development of the food security programme, for example through the distribution of plastic sheeting to protect vegetable gardens from bad weather. Karuna is also committed to supporting training and innovation in the region, through the creation of a partnership with a local technical college and the implementation of experimental research on natural pesticides.