Lower Aaloo Bari Busty, is a village about an hour walking from Darjeeling in West Bengal, India. Darjeeling is a scenic hill station, in the Eastern region of the Himalayas in India.
Formed during the British era, this 100 year old village has a community of 80 families. Agriculture, Tourism, and construction work are the main avenues for employment. Many families are into agriculture along with cattle farming, which becomes difficult due to the rainy season, as there are not enough open meadows for cattle grazing. A handful of them work for government jobs. Most of the youth work for travel companies during the season as guides, porters, helpers or cooks.
This village lies at a walking distance of an hour from Darjeeling, with no road access. All children in the village walk to school everyday as many of them study in Darjeeling as the school in the village is only up to Grade 7.
A chance trek and a conversation led to the realisation that while the parents aspire for the children to be well educated to escape a profession that could become difficult to sustain, they lack guidance and the resources to break the boundaries. Project Pragati is aimed at adopting all the children in the village, so there is parity and no child is left behind
This is our way to give back to a region that brings so much joy and warmth to all travellers to the Eastern part of Himalayas in India.
As we designed program around MyPragati, we went to companies for CSR to raise funding to sustain our efforts. The question we asked however was "how do we make this sustainable over the next 2 years so we depend less on generosity (which is great) but more on owning our own destiny. The answer that came back was to build a venture, that could become profitable over time. We could use the profits to run MyPragati.
Looking at the residents of Aloo Bari Busty, the core capability was trekking and delivering superior customer experience.
WIth these two data points, we launched YodaTreks.
Check us out at www.yodatreks.com
About 40 min walk from Darjeeling, this village is not accessible by road. Everyone walks to school and to Darjeeling, including children who go to private schools. If the children cant walk, then a parent needs to carry them to school.
Education is seen as the single way they can beat the barriers of life and equip themselves to build a better life. And the community is committed to this.
This area is prone to heavy rains and landslides during the monsoon, snow and very cold conditions in winter. While a quaint village could awaken our senses, the everyday life presents tough conditions to all.