Just a quick post from my first 2 weeks in Ladakh, and my thoughts are on how different the non-profit sector is across different parts of the world.

I am teaching at a school that was set up via fundraising by a very respected local buddhist monk, in the village of Stok, 3700m altitude.  It runs as a private school, but where local children are also sponsored by western fundraising projects, mainly in the US.  This way local families who can afford the tuition can pay for it, and local families who cannot are offered sponsored education.  It costs less than 10 Norwegian Kroner per day to sponsor a child’s education…  The volunteering that folks like me are lucky enough to do, helps the students of schools like Siddartha School to become more confident in spoken english, which is a key skill they need for secondary school and higher education.  I think there could be room for more volunteers doing this, so maybe something to think about as a network of english speaking volunteers from Europe!

Other projects that I want to mention include a charity run by my god-father back in Britain.  This funds the building of schools and orphanages across India, and with a great tradition in Ladakh – I am lucky enough to be able to see some of these projects first-hand later in the summer, so will report then on how this element of non-profit functions.

Lastly, and I find this so interesting, there are non-profit projects to provide the remote villages, schools etc with solar power (the sun shines for around 300 days per year here, even in the winter when it can be -30 degrees).  This seems to operate on an approximate micro-finance basis both for PV panels and smaller solar lamps, and allows people to have free energy off-grid for cooking, homework, and all the things we take completely for granted in the west.  It is still early days for these projects and there is apparently one catch at the moment – a lack of trained local people to repair these systems, which means sometimes they are under utilised, or people are reluctant to use them.  There’s a social enterprise opportunity in there somewhere,  I know it!
Thats all from India for now, the next few weeks will involve more teaching english, a stay at a self-sufficient school that is 100% solar powered, and a trek to Stok Kangri summit, at 6100m altitude!  Back to Oslo in late August….

Av Will Nicholson

Will Nicholson, 42 years old, previously a chef and restaurant owner, with an MSc in Green Economy. I run IntoFood, a social enterprise helping consumers and food businesses to make sustainable food choices.

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