“Treks-to-Build Health, Community & Hope in the Hidden Himalayas”.

“Treks-to-Build Health, Community & Hope in the Hidden Himalayas”.

Nepal
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Budget: 
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

This initiative relates to environmentally responsible tourism that provides direct benefits to natural areas and the social, cultural, economic welfare of locals, promoting conservation and sustainable development. To achieve this, we respond to needs of local communities for improved access to healthcare, education, employment, food security and renewable energy resources.

About You
Organization:
The Nepal Trust
Visit website
Section 1: About You
First Name

Alison

Last Name

Read

Country
Section 2: About Your Organization
Is your initiative connected to an established organization?

Yes

Organization Name

The Nepal Trust

Organization Phone

+977 1 4372354

Organization Address

Maharajgunj, Bansbari, Kumar Marg, Nursery Land House # 46, Kathmandu

Organization Country
How long has this organization been operating?

More than 5 years

Your idea
Country your work focuses on
Innovation
What makes your innovation unique?

Our program aims at a sustainable kind of tourism, whereby travelers, who want to leave more behind than just their footprints, waste and by-products, can instead educate and enrich themselves, as they are offered the unique opportunity to get involved hands-on with community-based development projects that are related to health, renewable energy, environmental issues, education, heritage preservation and food security.
Rather then just having a holiday, they are actively involved in the construction of local infrastructure while on trek, like building a health post, or work on an electricity power plant.
This allows them to connect on a deeper level with the host populations in order to contribute to the sustainable development of the tourism destination itself.
Hence, visitors are offered a unique opportunity to enter a hidden world within their destination. Due to past development works of Nepal Trust, local people are strongly connected to our organization and will welcome our clients to activities that will normally remain unknown for tourists, i.e. rituals, dances, festivals, etc.
Our clientele consist out of people who want to face a challenge and make a difference in a part of the world that desperately needs it - individuals who casn trek and work in a team and as a team together with local communities that need the support of a New Tourism For A New Century.
Currently the Trust is project implementer for The Great Himalaya Trail Development Program (www.thegreathimalayatrail.org) in partnership with UNWTO, which aims to reduce poverty throughout the Himalayan belt.

Do you have a patent for this idea?

Impact
Tell us about the social impact of your innovation. Please include both numbers and stories as evidence of this impact

To date the Trust invested over $4,500,000 and implemented 5 micro-hydro plants, 6 village health posts, 3 village solar projects, installed solar equipment in the district hospital and renovated monasteries, including Nepal’s oldest monastery Halji Gompa.

Tourists from all over the world contributed to develop people in one of the last untouched places on earth and brought employment, happiness and hope to those living in harsh conditions, far away from western modernization.

Over 2,500 households gained access to electricity, which decreased the use of firewood for cooking and heating, but also has a positive impact on the environment, deforestation and the overuse of natural resources and at least 1,500 households registered themselves at our health clinics.

This resulted in improving health standards (hygiene), better sanitary measures (hot water), decrease in physical problems (electricity for food grinders, oil expellers) and better literacy and education (light to study).

All ourstaff in Humla are local people from our project sites who know the village people where we bring our clients to. This offers tourists unique opportunities to meet family members/ friends and stay at their houses (home stay), local priests, monks, artisans, crafts men, teachers, students, political leaders, etc.
Next to the opportunity tourists have to work with local people, we also organize interaction programs with locals, including project activities, interviews and cultural celebrations with local drinks, food, music and dance to welcome and thank our foreign visitors.

A recent example from Rotarian Adrian Lawrence, RC Wells, Distr. 1200, during the Somerset Rotarians ‘Trek to Build Health & Community’ illustrates this;
When it was time to leave, the whole village gathered on the roof tops offering apples, chang (the local homebrew) and yak butter, smeared onto our hair for good luck. The ladies dressed in their traditional costumes and jewellery. It was a very emotional moment and a lasting memory of how kind and happy these people can be, even when facing such adversity.

Problem: Describe the primary problem(s) that your innovation is addressing

The main problem is grinding poverty compounded by the current post-conflict realities - political instability, rising food and petrol prices, damaged or destroyed infrastructure and curtailed economic - and tourism investments.
Problems to be resolved include the harsh socio-economic conditions, lack of basic infrastructure, education and health services, food insecurity, gender inequalities and a dearth of livelihood opportunities to break out of the cycle of poverty.

Actions: Describe the steps that you are taking to make your innovation a success. Include a description of the business model. What might prevent that success?

1. Organize 2 Treks to Build in 2010, based on community request and with mainly Rotarians and volunteers – 1 to construct a health post in Humla District and 1 to inspect a water project in Gorkha District.
2. Launch new website (www.trekstobuild.org/com) – to come soon
3. Promote throughout Rotary and social groups
4. Produce new promotion materials (brochures, flyers, etc.)

Success depends on the availability of donor funds to construct projects and the willingness from tourists to participate – the global recession has had a negative impact on global investments, which has led to the fact that people were less able to go on holiday and also there were less project grants available from either private or public sectors.

Results: Describe the expected results of these actions over the next three years. Please address each year separately, if possible

Year 1 – Organize 2 treks to build for local infrastructure (Humla and Gorkha) and promote stories from participants throughout their social/professional networks. This will attract more income and provide more memberships for the Trust.
Also the establishment of new website to attract more people and inform them about voluntourism.
This year the Nepal Trust has been published in the Ethical travel guide from Tourism Concern and also is mentioned as the first organization in Nepal in the new travel guide: 700 Places to Volunteer Before You Die, which will be launched in July 2010.

Year 2 – Build portfolio of successful treks and promote throughout social groups (Rotary) and try to link them up with new projects related to healthcare, renewable energy, etc. We aim for 2 to 3 treks at least and stand-alone volunteerships - this will not only generate more employment opportunities for local people, but also will increase their access to local infrastructure.
Explore potential other areas for assistance.

Year 3 – Expand our treks to 3-5 per year in more areas of Nepal to promote tourism and development in more remote regions in order to spread income generation. Any donations from this will be invested back into the communities in terms of medicines, incentives, equipment, etc.

How many people will your project serve annually?

101‐1000

What is the average monthly household income in your target community, in US Dollars?

Less than $50

Does your innovation seek to have an impact on public policy?

Yes

If your innovation seeks to impact public policy, how?

One example is that we educated local Himalayan communities in tourism entrepreneurship (with support from UNESCO) and thought them how to commercialize their assets and set up tourism development committees locally for monitoring purposes. This has resulted in the fact that they now charge camping fees, entrance fees to monasteries and grazing fees for merchants with sheep, goats and yaks.

Sustainability
What stage is your Social Enterprise in?

Operating for more than 5 years

Does your organization have a board of directors or an advisory board?

Yes

Does your organization have a non monetary partnerships with NGOs?

Yes

Does your organization have a non monetary partnerships with businesses?

Yes

Does your organization have a non monetary partnerships with government?

Yes

Please tell us more about how partnerships could be critical to the success of your Social Enterprise

Our projects require full consensus from local people, communities and local governments (Ministries), as we are helping them with their local infrastructure and services. Without their approval we cannot intervene in their living areas and daily life and our projects would not be possible.

In addition, most of our foreign supporters are interlinked with each other through their own prívate networks – without good feedback from our clients, it will be difficult to attract other clients to get involved.

All our projects are fully registered with the local authorities (Social welfare Council, CDO, Local Development Office, etc.) – only after their approval we proceed with a project.

We would like to learn more about how your initiative is financially supported. Please explain your business plan/revenue model

Once we have identified a project, we look for people that are interested to come to Nepal and help with the implementation, like the installation of a solar project we will do this year (2010), where tourists can help the local people with house-wiring, panel installation, etc.

The tourists are to fund themselves fully, like on a normal holiday – the difference is that with our treks they not only can enjoy a trek in the Himalayas, but also help with our development projects and interact with the communities they encounter and eventually help.

The projects will be handed over to the community, so they can take full ownership of it and sustain the project in future.

The funds received from tourists will mainly be invested in the local areas by hiring local staff, porters, horses, food, etc. This will boost the local economies and help people to sustain themselves.
Any surplus generated from these treks is used for local development projects, like running a health post, or buying necessary equipment or tools for a micro-hydro electricity plant, or local incentives.

The Story
What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?

The Nepal Trust is a registered charity in Scotland (SC022552) established in Britain in 1993. The founder, Alan Jacobsen, is a retired Scottish businessman and former British Indian Army Major, who served alongside Nepalese Ghurkhas in Burma during World War II and was later moved by the poverty in their home country when he visited Nepal in 1993.
The main reason why Humla district was chosen at that time, was due to its extreme poverty and remoteness and the fact that Humla had not been included in other development programs. Hence the Trust started to combine sustainable tourism and development

Tell us about the person—the social innovator—behind this idea.

Humla, the Trust’s main working area had never been included in the mainstream development programs. We recognized the huge tourism potential within these beautiful areas and tried to combine it with development works to develop the region and help the local people.
The Nepal Trust ran a small advertisement in a couple of British newspapers in 1994 for a trek to build a health post in Humla (Torpa village) and within 6 months 5 English and 4 Scottish trekkers were trekking from Jumla district North over a hundred miles to Humla to work with the men, women and children of several villages in the Dozam valley of Humla to build the area’s first effective community health center.
Within 2 years of completion of the health post, villagers from as far away as 3 days walk were making their way there for desperately needed medical treatment and hope. The trek helped to pay for this community service and the trekkers contributed humor and work towards the effort that was organized, partially financed and completed by local people.
Since that time The Nepal Trust has run ‘Treks-to-Build’ or renovate several health posts, a community guesthouse, an ancient monastery and we are the first to run ‘Treks-to-Electrify’. There have been 5 ‘Treks-to-Build’ village micro-hydro plants that provided light and power to hundreds of people for the first time in their history. We have also run numerous ‘university student’, ‘medical research’, ‘monastery renovation’ (including the 10th century Halji Gompa) and ‘mobile health camp’ treks.
Our ‘Treks-to-Build Health and Community’ program is an attempt to transform tourism in the developing world as a pro-active force. We hope to create a new form of tourism that strengthens local management capability, cultural integrity and environmental awareness and that gets results and community projects done in the field.
We support hands-on community projects that are clearly needed and sustainable with the people of North West Nepal, that emphasize

How did you first hear about Changemakers?

Personal contact at Changemakers

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