July 12 2022
From Rennes to Kharsa: a collaborative project The beginnings of the project Karuna-Shechen aims to reveal the altruistic potential of individuals, groups and communities. At the beginning of 2021...
For a year now, Karuna-Shechen has been present in the Ruby Valley in Nepal, in order to develop educational, economic and agricultural programmes to meet local challenges. Thanks to the opening of offices, a motivated team is involved on a daily basis to ensure the smooth running of activities and the well-being of the inhabitants: let’s celebrate their commitment!
The Ruby Valley, a two-day journey from Kathmandu on the border with Tibet, is a very remote region with harsh climatic conditions. Monsoon rains and snow on its high peaks make the valley’s villages difficult to reach, especially as the road network is still underdeveloped in the region. Aware of the challenges faced by the valley’s inhabitants, Karuna’s local teams in Nepal have initiated programmes in the heart of the Ruby Valley. Indeed, the lack of accessibility of the region means that even today, almost no organisation is active there. Buoyed by its first historical actions in Tibet, and by the desire to act in the Himalayas, Karuna-Shechen therefore set up in 2020 in the village of Namsa, where offices were inaugurated in June 2021.
Since the inauguration of the offices last June, four programmes have been initiated in the region to address the needs of the local population. Firstly, Karuna is committed to reducing food insecurity by promoting the establishment of organic vegetable gardens, as well as a whole network of infrastructures that will enable these more resilient food practices to become part of the villagers’ habits. Until now, villagers were not used togrowing their own fruit and vegetables: these farming methods allow them to discover and diversify crops and to exchange more among themselves. Since the programme’s inception in the region, over 220 new farmers have joined the project. Their farms distinguish them from other farmers, thanks to varied, local and high value-added products (cashew nuts, pepper, kiwi, etc.).
“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 smallholders 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 smallholder farmers in the area.” ~ Ashimita Tamang, Agricultural Technician
Our teams also developed health and veterinary care programmes to address the lack of access to facilities in the region. A health centre was built, as well as a Covid programme, 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.
The project to build a new school in Kharsa was launched in 2021 by four students from the Rennes School of Architecture, following a wave of earthquakes that weakened the existing buildings. The challenge 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 dedicated article.
Access to electricity is also a real 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 happy because she will no longer have to work in the dark and her children can now study longer and better in the evening.
Les programmes de Karuna dans la Valley de Ruby sont notamment soutenus par notre partenaire Palais des Thés, à travers l’opération de produit-partage “Black Friday for Good”.
En novembre 2021, François-Xavier Delmas, fondateur de Palais des Thés, a accompagné les équipes de Karuna-Shechen lors de visites et de rencontres avec les bénéficiaires du programme.
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.
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