The Earthbag Dome Training Course

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The Earthbag Dome Training Course

Have you ever wanted to learn to build your own home? Now you can in just ten days in Nepal with Conscious Impact

Learning to fill earthbags on site at a 2017 home construction with Conscious Impact. Photo by Jonathan H. Lee

Learning to fill earthbags on site at a 2017 home construction with Conscious Impact. Photo by Jonathan H. Lee

Our Background

Since the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, Conscious Impact has supported dozens of families to rebuild their homes with natural materials. Using Compressed Stabilized Earth Blocks (CSEBs), bamboo, rammed earth, cob, wattle and daub, and earthbag construction techniques, we have built a primary school, community center, women’s cooperative, coffee processing facility and homes for families in need. Throughout this process, we have specialized in earthbag construction, finding that this technique is the most efficient, affordable and earthquake-resistant solution for our area. In the last 3+ years, we have trained more than 200 international volunteers and local Nepalis with earthbags on site at our projects. Now, we are SO excited to offer our first ever official training course and certification!

Earthbag Dome Construction, also known as “Superadobe,” is a simple, beautiful, affordable and extremely strong construction technique. We want to teach as many people as possible this technique.

The Conscious Impact construction team, alongside local community members, build a home for a family in need in rural Nepal. Photo by Jonathan H. Lee

The Conscious Impact construction team, alongside local community members, build a home for a family in need in rural Nepal. Photo by Jonathan H. Lee

This November 4th-13th, we invite anyone passionate about natural building to join us in Nepal for a 10-day immersion course in earthbag dome construction. You will learn everything you need to know to build your own dome.

We will offer both Nepalis and international participants hands-on experience with building the foundation, laying earth bags, understanding soil qualities and plastering. By the end of the 10 days, the dome walls will be completed!

Earthbag dome construction training at Rancho Uha in Guanajato, Mexico where our Lead Engineer Mariana Jimenez studied and volunteered.

Earthbag dome construction training at Rancho Uha in Guanajato, Mexico where our Lead Engineer Mariana Jimenez studied and volunteered.

We invite you and anyone you think would be interested to come to Nepal.

Learn more and sign up today at www.consciousimpact.org/earthbag-dome-training.

Hope to see you in Nepal in November!

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5 Reasons to Look Forward to Season 5!

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5 Reasons to Look Forward to Season 5!

1. The Homestay Program

Have you ever wanted to spend a full day and night living with a family in the Himalayas? Do you want a closer look at the daily life of a Nepali family? Season 5 will introduce a new Conscious Impact program in collaboration with the local government that will give volunteers a deeper immersion experience while offering local families another way to share their culture and raise money for their basic needs. We are SO excited to roll this out!

Milk tea is a morning staple of Nepali homes. Share this and much more with local community members in our new Homestay Program. Photo by Jonathan H. Lee

Milk tea is a morning staple of Nepali homes. Share this and much more with local community members in our new Homestay Program. Photo by Jonathan H. Lee

2. Empowered Youth

With 4 years of experience under our wings, Conscious Impact is now ready to expand our Youth Empowerment program. We hope that means more young women in our Girl’s Empowerment Program, more attendance in our After School Homework sessions, one or even two full-time Nepali staff focused on this work, and more volunteer engagement with local youth. We believe that children are the future, and we are committed to deepening our work with Takure’s youth in Season 5.

A Nepali student presents her work before the young Girl’s Empowerment Program. Photo by Jonathan H. Lee

A Nepali student presents her work before the young Girl’s Empowerment Program. Photo by Jonathan H. Lee

3. It’s Coffee Time!

Season 5 promises to bring our first coffee harvest! While the first harvest may be small, it still means finally seeing the fruits of 4 years of work. Farmers will be inspired by the coffee beans and the income that comes with it, and we expect that in Season 5, more farmers than ever will want to plant MORE TREES! We aim to grow our Agriculture Program, to plant more coffee, and to diversify the trees we plant.

Narayan Bhattarai with his family and Agricultural Program Lead Greg Robinson. Narayan hopes that this 3-year-old coffee tree will give fruit this December! Photo by Jonathan H. Lee

Narayan Bhattarai with his family and Agricultural Program Lead Greg Robinson. Narayan hopes that this 3-year-old coffee tree will give fruit this December! Photo by Jonathan H. Lee

4. Get Certified in Natural Building

After years of training local Nepalis and volunteers from around the world in natural building techniques, in Season 5 Conscious Impact will finally begin to offer formal courses in superadobe, earthbags, cob, wattle and daub, adobe, CSEB, rammed earth and bamboo construction. We are SO excited! On November 4th, 2019 we begin our first course, Earthbag Dome Construction and Certification. Read more at https://www.consciousimpact.org/earthbag-dome-training.

From November 4th-13th, Conscious Impact will host its first ever official Natural Building Course: Earthbag Dome Construction. Join us to learn to build your own home in just 10 days! Photo by Jonathan H. Lee

From November 4th-13th, Conscious Impact will host its first ever official Natural Building Course: Earthbag Dome Construction. Join us to learn to build your own home in just 10 days! Photo by Jonathan H. Lee

5. More of the Same!

That’s right, Conscious Impact is committed to continuing what we do and how we do it. In Season 5, our team will sustain our work in Agriculture, Youth Empowerment and Natural Construction. We will collaborate directly with the community to design and implement intelligent and effective development solutions. We will host volunteers from around the world in our environmentally conscious, nearly zero waste camp in the Himalayas, and we will do it all with huge smiles on our faces and hearts full of joy. That is who we are, and we don’t plan to change anytime soon.

We are looking for more volunteers. Learn more and join today at www.consciousimpact.org/volunteer.

Conscious Impact volunteers gather to share gratitude at our camp in Takure. Photo by Jonathan H. Lee

Conscious Impact volunteers gather to share gratitude at our camp in Takure. Photo by Jonathan H. Lee

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Season 4 Comes to an End!

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Season 4 Comes to an End!

We did it! Season 4 is complete. But what did we accomplish?

We started Conscious Impact in 2015, and now, more than 4 years later, we are as passionate, committed and united as ever before. With time also comes experience, and our work in Season 4 was more balanced, effective and sustainable than ever.

The Dahal Family in Bimire stands in front of their nearly completed 4-bedroom home. Photo by Jonathan H. Lee

The Dahal Family in Bimire stands in front of their nearly completed 4-bedroom home. Photo by Jonathan H. Lee

Families moved into their new CSEB Homes in Season 4 after three years without permanent shelter. Conscious Impact was there to support.

Nepali families continue to build and our team provided more than 50,000 environmentally sustainable and locally produced CSEBs!

Our Nepali team has now produced more than 200,000 CSEBs in 4 years! Photo by Jonathan H. Lee

Our Nepali team has now produced more than 200,000 CSEBs in 4 years! Photo by Jonathan H. Lee

Our Youth Empowerment Program is stronger than ever. We reach more than 30 young women every week to discuss sexual health, body awareness, self confidence and visions of the future. Plus, we include the boys on occasional days for valuable (and fun!) open discussions.

Additionally, we have begun After School Homework sessions at our camp, led by Conscious Impact volunteers. We practice English, other academic subjects, and mostly offer a free play space with
dozens of young Nepali students.

Girls Empowerment class in Nawlpur, Nepal. Photo by Jonathan H. Lee

Girls Empowerment class in Nawlpur, Nepal. Photo by Jonathan H. Lee

Our Agriculture and Reforestation Program has now planted more than 20,000 trees in collaboration with local farmers, and this year these trees will produce their first fruits!

Amar and Sanu Kanchi Ranamagar stand proudly with one of their many coffee trees. Amar serves on the Takure Basic Organic Coffee Cooperative board and enthusiastically supports all of our agriculture initiatives in the area.  Photo by Jonathan H. Lee

Amar and Sanu Kanchi Ranamagar stand proudly with one of their many coffee trees. Amar serves on the Takure Basic Organic Coffee Cooperative board and enthusiastically supports all of our agriculture initiatives in the area.
Photo by Jonathan H. Lee

The new water tank is complete, providing more than 40,000 liters of water per day to more than 80 families in the community of Takure. Read more here.

Community members and volunteers stand proudly on the new 40,000 liter water tank. Photo by Ankit Tanu

Community members and volunteers stand proudly on the new 40,000 liter water tank. Photo by Ankit Tanu

The Orphanage Project, completed with our bricks in 2017, now houses more than 25 young children, and we visit each week with volunteers.

Spending time at the Mother Sister Nepal orphanage. Photo by Jonathan H. Lee

Spending time at the Mother Sister Nepal orphanage. Photo by Jonathan H. Lee

And last, but not least, the new Takure Coffee Cooperative Center!

Built with earthbags, this office and storage facility will support local farmers to process their first coffee harvests in December 2019. We look forward to finally getting some of the fruits of these labors :)

Plastering the Coffee Cooperative’s outside walls in February. The project is now complete!

Plastering the Coffee Cooperative’s outside walls in February. The project is now complete!

But the work is not done…

Our support of local youth, especially young women, is just beginning. We have planted over 20,000 trees, but we plan to plant more than 100,000 more in the next 10 years. We completed the new water tank and will continue to support communities with access to water management. And of course, families will continue to build around the region, and we want to be there with environmentally sustainable and locally produced building materials. Read more here to see what Season 5 has to bring.

We need volunteers now more than ever to sustain our support of the families in Takure…

Sign up now to volunteer for Season 5, starting October 1st 2019.

See you in Nepal!

Our home in the Himalayas. Photo by Jonathan H. Lee

Our home in the Himalayas. Photo by Jonathan H. Lee

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The Water Tank is Complete!

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The Water Tank is Complete!

After 6 months of collaboration with the community of Takure, the 40,000 liter water tank is finally complete!

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Today, the Conscious Impact team and community leaders from around Takure gathered to celebrate our collective accomplishment. Now, for the first time in more than 20 years, families will finally have access to sufficient water for domestic use!

We are SO grateful to every community member and volunteer that worked on this project, and especially to every donor that helped us raise more than $6500 to buy sand, cement and rebar to make this tank the strongest one in the region. We are looking forward to generations of clean, sufficient drinking water in Takure!

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2019: The Year of Coffee

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2019: The Year of Coffee

Coffee: The world’s favorite drink, and the key to bringing reforestation and revenue to the farmlands of Nepal.

Sano Kanchi Rana Magar is a resident of Takure and one of Nepal’s newest coffee farmers. Two years ago, she planted organic coffee saplings from Conscious Impact’s greenhouse, and she hopes that this year she will get her first big harvest! Photo by Jonathan H. Lee

Sano Kanchi Rana Magar is a resident of Takure and one of Nepal’s newest coffee farmers. Two years ago, she planted organic coffee saplings from Conscious Impact’s greenhouse, and she hopes that this year she will get her first big harvest! Photo by Jonathan H. Lee

For Conscious Impact and the community of Takure, 2019 is the year of coffee. It has been three years since we planted the first 10,000 coffee seeds in our greenhouse, and this year many of these seeds (now small trees planted throughout the mountains) will finally give their first fruits. Our partner farmers across the region are excitedly anticipating their first harvest, and the income that will come with it. We at Conscious Impact are hoping that the dream will come true: financially profitable reforestation across the hillsides of Nepal!

Orion Haas, CoFounder and Director of Conscious Impact, examines the more than 10,000 baby coffee saplings in the Conscious Impact greenhouse. Already more than 10,000 trees have been distributed, and this year another 6,000+ will be planted by farmers across the region of Sindhupalchok, Nepal. Photo by Jonathan H. Lee

Orion Haas, CoFounder and Director of Conscious Impact, examines the more than 10,000 baby coffee saplings in the Conscious Impact greenhouse. Already more than 10,000 trees have been distributed, and this year another 6,000+ will be planted by farmers across the region of Sindhupalchok, Nepal. Photo by Jonathan H. Lee

Our team is preparing for 2019’s first harvest by constructing Takure’s first ever coffee processing center. With space for pulping, soaking, drying and storing the coffee, this agricultural center will become the new hub for organic coffee processing and distribution. Plus, with space for an office and meeting area, Takure’s Coffee Cooperative will serve as a central gathering space for passionate locals to meet and plan the future of organic farming in the area. We can’t wait for the space to be operational!

This week, we completed the 6th course of the new earthbag Coffee Cooperative Office and Meeting Hall.. This construction will be completed by April, 2019 and will provide the region’s farmers with a place to process and store their new coffee harvests. It will also host trainings for organic agriculture, tree care and compost management.

This week, we completed the 6th course of the new earthbag Coffee Cooperative Office and Meeting Hall.. This construction will be completed by April, 2019 and will provide the region’s farmers with a place to process and store their new coffee harvests. It will also host trainings for organic agriculture, tree care and compost management.

We are now two months into the construction of the new Coffee Cooperative in Takure and already the progress is inspiring. The gravel foundation is complete, and now the earthbag walls are going up! Over the past 3 years, earthbag construction has become one of Conscious Impact’s favorite building techniques. Besides being affordable and easy to build, earthbag construction is extremely low impact, environmentally sustainable and very earthquake safe. Plus, the local sandy and silty soil is perfect for filling the earthbags. This is our third earthbag project, and we hope to build many more in Nepal.

Conscious Impact volunteers filling earthbags during the construction of the new Takure Coffee Cooperative.

Conscious Impact volunteers filling earthbags during the construction of the new Takure Coffee Cooperative.

We are so grateful to all of the volunteers that have given their labor to this project already, and to everyone all over the world that has supported the Coffee Cooperative. We want to give a special shout out to Ali and Fayza for their generous donation to make this project possible. If you are still considering becoming a donor to Conscious Impact, please visit www.consciousimpact.org/donate to support this project and many others in Nepal. We are forever grateful!

And of course, we are always looking for more volunteers to come to Nepal to get their hands dirty with us and learn how to build with earth. Check out our upcoming programs at www.consciousimpact.org/volunteer and see you in Nepal!

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This is Us

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This is Us

This is Us.

Some of us are from Takure, some moved here 3 years ago after the earthquake. Some are tall, others much shorter, some like pizza, others like rice (a lot). :) But all of us have become a team, a community and a family, dedicated to serving each other and the people of Takure.

These photos are just a few of the faces that make our work possible…there are countless others. In 3.5 years, we have received more than 500 volunteers, plus thousands of donations from around the world. For this, we are grateful.

If you feel inspired to give a holiday gift to our team, we welcome them at www.consciousimpact.org/donate. If you would prefer instead to simply message us a smile, or share a story, or join us here in Nepal, we will take that with open arms as well.

We love you, we appreciate you, and we invite you to the Himalayas.

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Processing Loss in the Himalayas

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Processing Loss in the Himalayas

The month of November was challenging, even overwhelming. After 6 months of work, we finally moved into our New Camp. With a new kitchen and new common space, this would be our home for the next decade or more. Yet on the second night, we lost our new common space to fire.

Made of bamboo and rice straw, the new roof to our dining and meeting area burned fast and strong. After two and a half hours, there was nothing left but the earthen bench. Fortunately, we were all OK, standing safely beside the flames, comforting each other in the loss. Like many fires around the world, the cause of this one is still unknown.

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In the days following the fire, our team of volunteers worked hard to clean the space, and to move forward from the loss. The community of Takure showed up every morning in large numbers to show their support and solidarity with us. They know better than anyone how it feels to lose a home, as they each did in the earthquake of 2015. We held each other with compassion and understanding, and with heavy hearts.

After 5 days cleaning and mourning our loss, we decided it was time to move forward. And no better way to clear the mind and refresh the spirits than to head into the mountains! A group of 10 volunteers joined together to walk two days from our camp, to the base of the Langtang Range, where we would share time around the fire, cook meals together and admire the strength and beauty of the Himalayas. We also carried ashes from the fire to scatter into the wind as an offering of peace, forgiveness, acceptance and love.

Many friends, family and community members have asked us when we will rebuild. The truth is that we are not ready yet, and may not be ready for a few months. We want to rebuild something as beautiful and full of magic as the space we had before. That will take time, like all good things. And in the meantime, we will focus on our other work: a coffee cooperative to serve local farmers, coffee trees to plant across the region, a water tank to provide for the community and caring for each other and the earth every day. If you would like to support our work, please go to www.consciousimpact.org/donate or sign up to volunteer with us in Nepal. Thank you!

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Dashain Festival Celebrations

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Dashain Festival Celebrations

One of the most beautiful aspects of living in a Nepali, rural community is the unique opportunity to not just witness but participate in the festival season celebrations of Dashain and Tihar. Dashain is the largest and most celebrated festival of the year for the Nepali Hindu community. Dashain serves as a homecoming for many in Nepal and the sense of family, belonging, and good-natured revelry is felt and shared by all.

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The community of Takure opened their hearts and homes to us, a collection of 36 volunteers, mostly strangers to them, from all over the world during this most special and revered time of year. During the festival, we were repeatedly invited into the homes of different local families for traditional meals and blessings. These invitations are just another example of extraordinary Nepali hospitality as we were welcomed into the intimate setting of family celebrations.

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Dashain is a 10-day celebration symbolizing the triumph of good over evil. The Goddess Durga and her many manifestations are worshipped for her defeat of the demon Mahishasura. The demon was terrorizing the world of the Gods and Goddesses and no one was able to eliminate Mahishasura until Durga entered a 9-day battle with the demon finally defeating Mahishasura on the 10th day.

There are different celebrations and rituals for the various days of Dashain beginning with the planting of barley seeds, called “jamara", inside each family home and kept out of the sunlight.

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Another highlight of the festival period is the 8th day, Maha Asthami, when there are many animal sacrifices made to appease the Goddess Kali, one of Durga’s manifestations. Water buffalo, goats, and chickens are sacrificed at temples in every community and for many this is the one time of year that they will eat meat.

One of the most fun activities is the building of a traditional swing, called a Ping. Each community takes great pride in building the best and tallest swing out of local bamboo and rope. Pings can reach heights of 20 feet or more and are enjoyed by children and adults of all ages.

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The 10th day, Vijaya Dashami, informally referred to as Tika Day, is the highlight of Dashain. On this day everyone dons their best dress and spirit. The women are often dressed in ornate red saris with red bangles adorning their arms and gold jewelry. Our volunteers, in small groups dressed to impress, spread out into this community in awe of the generosity and openness of the people here. We were offered the ritual of tika with Jamara, marigolds, and fruit upon the arrival at each home. It is a beyond beautiful experience to share such a sacred holiday with these families. The people of Takure are so generous with their homes, their food, and most touching – their spirit. It was remarked by a volunteer that these families were doing the equivalent of letting strangers into their homes for Christmas dinner. The magic of the season and generosity of this community was not lost on a single person. We were all touched by the celebrations, the love, the laughter, and the genuine sense of community shared by all.

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Back to School

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Back to School

With Season 4 underway, our Youth Empowerment Program, led by Alyson Sagala, was kicked off by hosting empowerment sessions at both the Nawalpur and Aiselu Kharkha secondary schools.

We are building upon our established Girls’ Empowerment Program to include boys as well, and held our first co-ed sessions. These sessions provide space for boys and girls ages 13-17 years old to connect and grow in areas of self-awareness, identity and community relationships. Our youth programs have been working with local children and teenagers for over 3 years, and we have been able to build strong relationships with our school communities.

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We are excited to announce that we are currently looking to hire a Nepali educator who will serve as our permanent youth program coordinator. We believe this addition to our staff will enable us to deepen our youth programming in the area and build upon our past successes. We are endlessly grateful for all the hard work, dedication, commitments, and connections made by so many volunteers that have contributed over the past three years. We are looking forward to this next chapter, and to strengthen our relationships with the young people of this community.

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Water Tank Update

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Water Tank Update

Thanks to dozens of donors from around the world, we recently raised $7,000 to build a 40,000-liter water tank in Takure. This project will triple the capacity of the current water storage and replace the broken, 20-year-old tanks that now service the community. Community members and volunteers have been working every day—moving sand, stone, concrete and gravel—to make this project a reality. Once completed, the new tank will provide more than 50 families with greater access to clean water, helping to keep the community healthy and happy.

Update filmed and edited by Jonathan H. Lee of subtledream.com

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Last winter during a community meeting, members unanimously agreed on their #1 priority: access to clean water.

Shortly after the project began, we established a water council consisting of men, women and members of different castes from the community. The council has worked together to order materials, hire laborers, and help out on days that require more hands. Last week during Dashain festival, 25 community members joined our team of volunteers to pour the concrete ring beam. It was the biggest turnout yet, and we shared laughter, smiles and plenty of sweat!

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MANY THANKS TO…

Narayan Bhattarai and the community members that have made this project possible.

Mariana & her friends in Cypress

Lea Martetschläger

Deanna D Huggins

Kyon Hood

Dylan Ho

Kyon Hood

Priyanka Premlal

Kyon Hood

Lillian Le

Jake Costin

Ben Silverman

Paolo Garlasco

Tamar Eilam

David Enos

Oliver Atwood

Hernan Diaz

Rebecca Marshall

Miranda Konowitz

Elizabeth Layton

Britny Coker-Moen

Tayler Jenkins

Christian Lackner

Tim Obrien

William Harry clews

Joey Sagala

Krishna Bhattarai

Gil Brown

Camille Martinez

John Buchanan

Manuel Cardona

Daniella Castro

Terrie Lynn Azevedo

Sean Oh

Laura Keagy

Susan Emery

Kyle Paquette

Trina Bhattarai

Diyana Helmi

Jonathan H. Lee

Daniel Horton

Clay Strand

Ruth Heenan

Clare Mcinerney

Eman

Kelsey Eagleburger

Sarah Neumann

Zane Poh

Tiange Zhang

Jonathan H. Lee

Hanna Moosa

Christina Towle and Clark Demarest

Rebeca Segal

Nhung N Duong

Aaron Huang

Mariaseth Reyes

Tracy

Tamara Homeyer

Tiffany Cha

Kalliopi Garyfalli

Evan Paul

Matthew Levin

Olivia Lockwood

Amanda Mendoza

Colleen Grassnick

Linds Sanders

Ben Webb

Abigail Rotholz

Elpidoforos Chrysovergsis

The Mundubbera Nepali Community of Australia

Hannah Huxley

Paul Farres Antunez

Reema Rai

Harry Green

Skjalg Bjørkevoll

Corey Scull

Jenna Jarrold

Sebastian Buffa

Tiange Zhang

Joseph Almond

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Dal Bhat and Gratitude

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Dal Bhat and Gratitude

Reflections on My Time at Conscious Impact

By Ben Perlmutter

 

Everyone who visits Nepal will remember dal bhat. It’s omnipresent. Most Nepalese people eat this blend of curry, dal (lentil) soup, and rice at least once a day. 

At first, this custom might seem a little strange to an outsider. Don’t they get bored of the same dish every single day? 

Most tourists will probably get sick of it after a week. I know I did. 

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But then, after you spend some more time in Nepal, something curious happens. Not only do you get used to eating dhal bhat every day, but it weaves itself into the fabric of your life. It becomes a staple of your diet. You begin to appreciate the nuance in the flavor and you learn no dal bhat is the same. The flavor always remains similar, but every cook adds their own blends of spices to create a unique experience. In my almost three months in Nepal during the spring of 2017, including three weeks at Conscious Impact, I fully converted into a dal bhat lover.  

And, dal bhat’s even vegan and gluten free, so there’s no excuse for not eating it!

At Conscious Impact, like everywhere else in Nepal, dal bhat is unavoidable—It’s the lunch every week day, be it served in the camp’s kitchens by Parbati and Pratima or in the home of a local family that volunteers are helping for the day. 

Just as dal bhat serves as an essential and idiosyncratic part of Nepalese culture, Conscious Impact has a tradition of its own that has many parallels with dal bhat: the nightly Gratitude. 

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Every night before eating dinner, all volunteers at Conscious Impact come together and say what they were grateful for that day. The gratitude could be for another volunteer’s helping hand, a special moment shared with a local (I recall Mama getting an especially large number of shout outs), some natural beauty witnessed, or whatever else you might be grateful for that day. 

When I first arrived at the Conscious Impact camp, I was taken aback by this tradition. 

My only previous experience with pre-meal gratitude was during Thanksgiving dinner right before diving into the turkey. But to do this every night now? I was uncertain. It just seemed…weird. 

But, when you have to do something to get your dinner, especially after a long day of plastering an earth-bag house or moving bricks, you do it without much hesitation. Like the repetition of eating dal bhat everyday grew on me, so did Gratitude. Every day’s Gratitude is different yet similar. Each moment and action to merit gratitude is different, but certain themes emerge: appreciation for the kindness of others, wonder at the beauty the natural world present for us, and thankfulness for the food the Earth has given to us and others have prepared. Just as dal bhat’s blend of lentils, curry, and rice provides a template for each cook to enrich with their own nuance and personality, Gratitude repeats on the same themes with the individual spice of the day’s events. 

Despite my initial hesitancy towards the idiosyncrasy of Gratitude and daily dal bhat, I learned to love them both. Just because the rest of the world isn’t eating the same meal or expressing their gratitude everyday doesn’t make these traditions bad; they’re just different. 

There is something deeply familial about Gratitude. It helps build community in the camp among volunteers who come from many walks of life and are staying with Conscious Impact for varying lengths of time, from a few days to the entire nine-month season. 

Gratitude also helps create the atmosphere of positivity that Conscious Impact radiates. By explicitly expressing gratitude every night, the subtext of gratefulness that always underlies daily life becomes explicitly stated. Raising these thoughts to spoken word makes them become more real. The positive things that we think, but might not say in fear of sounding “different” or “awkward,” become the reality of our expression during Gratitude. 

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Furthermore, having to come up with something that we’re grateful for every night makes us think about what we’re going to mention during Gratitude during the day. The idea of gratefulness becomes a constant thought throughout the day. The value of gratitude—for a person, the gifts of earth, or any and everything else—raises itself in our consciousness and permeates all our interaction. 

That Conscious Impact dares to be different, with traditions like Gratitude, helps make it a truly special place in the world. Things at Conscious Impact, like so much in Nepal, operate a little differently from the rest of the world. You live in tents, not houses; you choose what work you do each day, it’s not chosen for you; and bricks are made of earth, not clay. 

I only got to spend three weeks volunteering at Conscious Impact before I was pulled back to the world of lower altitudes, being woken up by car horns not chickens, sit-down toilets, and a lack of dal bhat. Those three weeks at Conscious Impact, however, were some of the most—well—impactful days of my life. 

While I’m not expressing my gratitude every night anymore, my gratefulness for the time I got to spend at Conscious Impact persists. I’m grateful for the friends I made there, some of whom I still talk to over a year later. I still regularly think about natural beauty of Takure, from the snow-capped mountains in the distance to the exotic flora and fauna we got to interact with on a daily basis. I’m thankful for having had the opportunity to help such a kind and welcoming community recover from the traumas of the 2015 earthquake. And, all of this was done in a manner that respects our planet and helps people live sustainably with it.

Conscious Impact is special. While the wifi at the camp may not have been fast enough to stream Netflix (although for rural Nepal, it really wasn’t too bad!) and the showers colder than I would have liked, it didn’t really matter. The trappings that can define so much of modern life and the values that come with it become less important at Conscious Impact.

Who needs wifi and hot water when you have dal bhat every day and Gratitude every night? 
 

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Photos taken by Antoine Maes, George Blower, and Yann Delalay.

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IT'S A BRICK BONANZA!

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IT'S A BRICK BONANZA!

Things are busy here on the ground in Takure! Rebuilding is in full swing as families throughout the Nawalpur VDC diligently work to have their homes completed before monsoon season starts.

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Last operational season, Conscious Impact assisted in the construction of 5 homes. Due to the community's greater interest in sustainable, locally-produced building materials, this year we have assisted the completion of 17 homes and have trained more than 10 local mason teams. We currently have a list of 10 families waiting on bricks to finish curing, including bricks for the second story of the Everest Children's Home (an orphanage we assisted on the construction of last year).

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Paddy and Ari playing with kids at the Everest Children's Home. 

 

In an effort to promote greater gender equity, we now employ 4 women full-time and 2 part time at the Training and CSEB Production Center. We are producing ~600 bricks daily, which is quite miraculous when we reflect on the 60 bricks per day we were making in December of 2015 when we were first learning CSEB production. Progress, progress, progress!

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Rabinia, a new Training Center employee, sieving soil.

Kelsey and Ben riding in the back of a truck filled with bricks for a new home.

 

Every week, volunteers are helping move bricks to new homes. In total, we have moved 43,000 bricks this season! We are excited for more volunteers to join us for the last few builds before monsoon, where we will continue not only to move bricks, but plant trees and inspire local youth! 


Photography by Abi Plowman, Elijah Lazarus, Ankit Tanu, and Jonathan H. Lee.

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A Day in the Life of a Conscious Impact Volunteer

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A Day in the Life of a Conscious Impact Volunteer

A day in the life of Danny Escola. Danny shared his 10-day experience with his friends and family on Facebook and we wanted to share it with you. Enjoy!


Nepal - Day 1

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I’m back in Nepal helping Conscious Impact improve the lives of a community where 97% of their homes were destroyed by an earthquake. I’ll be living in a tent on a camp in the Himalayas for 10 days working alongside other volunteers and the local Nepali people to help improve this community. Some of my primary duties will be making pressed bricks out of sustainable materials, helping to build a home for a deaf/mute couple and their family, and experimenting with agriculture techniques and crops to help the local farmers. I’ll also get opportunities for community visits to places like the local orphanage to play games with the kids and help them practice their English. It’s gonna be a fun adventure and I’m excited to be back!

And in this gratitude, a shift begins. Little by little we learn to love, to grow, to share, to recognize the wonderful gift we have been given to be human and to live a life of vulnerability and compassion. We begin to recognize that our world is completely transformed when we give love.

On this first day, I’ll be going on a 5 hour (and terrifying) bus ride from Kathmandu to camp. Look for pics tomorrow.

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Nepal - Day 2

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Today I’m waking up in my tent all bundled up in every layer I have....it’s really cold here at night! Yesterday was an incredible adventure over the Himalaya foothills to arrive at the Conscious Impact camp which is at about 4,500 feet above sea level. The drive included 5 hours of incredible vistas of the Himalaya peaks and a stop in the town of Melamchi for Dal Bhat (a traditional lunch of rice and lentils). The bus ride itself was the bumpiest, dustiest, and uncomfortable ride you can imagine with other buses passing us on a dirt road not much wider than the width of one bus. The maneuvering these drivers do to allow the other vehicles to pass without us tumbling down the hillside makes me a believer they have got to be some of the most talented drivers in the world.

After arriving at camp, we received an orientation, had the chance to set up our tents, and a little downtime before “gratitude” where all 25 of us campers went one by one in a circle to say what we were grateful for today. I was grateful for meeting old and new friends, for seeing the high Himalayas, and for being back in such a warm community. Gratitude is such an amazing way to end a day and It would be great to incorporate this into my life back home on a more regular basis. After gratitude and a delicious camp-cooked meal, I was ready for an early night.

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Today I’ll be working with a team moving bricks that were built by Conscious Impact. These bricks are made up of a mixture of local soil, local sand from the river, and a little bit of concrete and water and then pressed using a manual machine. What I find so cool about these bricks is that they are not only sustainable and earthquake resistance, but by using a pressed method instead of a firing method, the air pollution related to brick making is eliminated (unfortunately, over half of the hair pollution in Kathmandu is attributable to the firing of bricks). Also, Conscious Impact is training the locals how to make these pressed (non-fired) bricks and the intention is to hand the facility over to them to create a local economy. ❤️❤️❤️

Here are some pics from my day yesterday traveling to camp, setting up my tent, and settling in.

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Nepal - Day 3

Waking up refreshed (and cold) after a long day of work yesterday. The mornings here are quiet and beautiful and we start at 6:30 am with chanting/meditation/singing/dream reflection by the fire in the Conscious Impact tepee. It’s a wonderful way to welcome a new day and prepare for another hard day of work.

Yesterday I spent about 30 minutes after breakfast to sort trash and stuff plastic bottles with plastic wrappers and other smaller plastic waste. In Nepal, there is litter everywhere and they don’t have the same kinds of waste management you would find in western countries. Conscious Impact is very mindful of the trash it produces and tries to reuse or compost everything it can. When it comes to plastic, they have found that if you ram smaller pieces of plastic into plastic bottles, the bottle becomes extremely hard and can be used as a building material. Many of the structures at camp use these plastic bottles as part of the structure....what a great way to reuse!

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After my trash duties, I spent the morning moving bricks in a human chain passing one brick at a time from person to person. The bricks were being moved from the place where they had been dried to the staging location for delivery to the various households that will use these earth-conscious and earthquake-resistant bricks. We must have moved a few thousand bricks! I wasn’t as careful as I should have been and got some minor cuts on my arm. No worries tho, they will heal soon. I also got my turn using the brick-pressing machine. Like I said in my post yesterday, these bricks are pressed instead of fired which means there is no air pollution associated with the process.

In the afternoon I helped cut and sew earthbags for a house Conscious Impact is making for a deaf/mute couple and their children. Earthbags are filled with compacted soil and stacked like bricks and then covered with plaster and can be used as an inexpensive construction method...an entire quality home can be built for just a few thousand dollars. Conscious Impact is providing the labor and the materials to help this family rebuild from the devastating earthquake.

 

Nepal - Day 4

I’m midway through my 4th day here at camp and wanted to keep going on using Facebook as a journal to reflect on my 10 days here while I work with Conscious Impact to help rebuild this community in Nepal as they recover from a 2015 earthquake that left about 97% of the surrounding buildings and homes in rubble.

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Yesterday I woke up early at 6:30 am to sit in the tepee and learn a Hindu chant to the god Ganesha. From what I learned, in Hinduism, Ganesha is the remover of obstacles. I’m sure we can all agree that as humans we all have obstacles (usually that negative voice in our head telling us that we can’t, that we aren’t a good person, that we aren’t deserving of love....a sense that somehow we aren’t enough). Even though I didn’t know the exact the meaning of the words I was saying while chanting, it was cool to offer my transition from sleep to wakefulness to a removal of obstacles both small and large. And also to remind myself that everyone has these obstacles and it’s important to remember this fact as we interact with each other as human beings and offer whatever compassion our hearts can muster.

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After breakfast, a group of us made our way about 20 minutes down a very steep hill to the house that Conscious Impact is currently building for a deaf/mute couple and their children. Conscious Impact only has the manpower and resources to build one house at a time and in order to avoid picking favorites on which family to build for, Conscious Impact has asked the entire village to decide who we should build for next. The community decided that the deaf/mute couple and their children were the most in need and so Conscious Impact has been providing the labor and materials to build this home. When I was here in October I was involved in digging the ditches for the foundation and it was exciting to see the walls are now going up. Conscious Impact is building this home out of earthbags which are just bags filled with soil and then stacked like bricks. The bags are compacted and are as strong as concrete for a fraction of the cost. Once the structure is in place, the walls are plastered and will look just like any other homemade from concrete....pretty cool. I spent the morning filling bags with soil and stacking them in place! I was working with one of the dead/mute couple’s teenage kids who has been helping out and he was such a sweet person and a hard worker. It was really rewarding!

After a nice lunch back at camp, I went with a group on a community visit to visit a local family. We sat outside, drank some tea, and learned about their experience with the earthquake, got to meet their 1-month-old child, and talk about their family and all kinds of topics. It was nice and relaxing afternoon.

I was assigned to the dinner team in the evening and had fun working with a crew of 5 of us making a delicious Indian bean/vegetable stew, a green salad, and rotis. The camp is 100% vegetarian out of respect to the locals but I got to say vegetarian does not mean it lacks deliciousness! Our meal was so so good. 🙂

After dinner, it was time to crawl into my tent and rest up for another day of work.

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Nepal - Day 5

Woke up early again on Thursday to go to the tepee at 6:30. This time we were led through a 30-minute meditation. I’m really enjoying starting my days with a calm, reflective, and mindful practice to help me stay present and prepare myself for the day ahead.

In the morning after breakfast, I again headed down to the earthbag house to work. This time I started off laying down the barbed wire which holds the earthbag layers together. I got a few snags in my pants and my gloves basically got destroyed by the wire, but hey, it’s construction work so I shouldn’t expect anything less. It was fun to again work with the deaf/mute couple’s oldest son...he is such a hard worker and has a great positive attitude. After laying down the barbed wire we filled earthbags and stacked them as we had done the day before.

In the afternoon, I joined an agricultural team to pay a visit to a beautiful farm about a 15-minute walk from camp. This farmer had all kinds of plants from aloe to lemon trees to tomatoes to coffee just to name a few. The property was spacious and stunningly beautiful. After our tour, we got to sit and chat over tea and even got to feed the goats which were really fun.

Before dinner, I got some time to start a book called Jumla - a true story about a Nepali nurse who lived and worked in an impoverished city in western Nepal during the Maoist conflict. She later went on to win the N-Peace Award for her humanitarian efforts....truly a remarkable woman. It’s always inspiring to me to read stories of real people who have done incredible things.

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In the evening after dinner, some of the Conscious Impact leaders did I presentation on natural building. In addition to the obvious sustainability benefit, it was interesting to learn how durable natural buildings can be. Homes made from earthbags, for example, can last 500 years! They also are much more insulated than concrete or wood homes and therefore do not require nearly as many resources or money to heat and cool these buildings. Earthbag homes can be built with sophisticated electrical, plumbing, and heating/cooling systems too. Another thing I’ve been getting out of my experience here when it comes to homes is a good reminder that we really don’t need to build large houses to prove our wealth or importance. We can get by simply and comfortably with a small space to call our own.

Nepal - Days 6-8

Skipped a few days of updates on my experience here but hey I’ve been pretty busy!

The schedule is packed here with some sort of spiritual practice at 6:30 am around a fire in the tepee, breakfast at 7 am, morning chores from about 7:40 to 8. Then the morning work projects run from 8:30 to noon. Lunch at noon. Afternoon projects from 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm. Dinner at 6, then usually some sort of evening activity. And everyone is assigned to a major chore almost every day whether it be the breakfast cook team, the breakfast dishes team, the dinner cook team, or the dinner dishes team. For lunch, Conscious Impact hires two lovely Nepali ladies to make it for us so we don’t have to interrupt our work projects to cook lunch. I never thought to be part of a camp community could be so rewarding but here I am and truly loving every minute of it. Honestly, I don’t remember the last time I was this happy! It’s been such a beautiful experience surrounded by amazing, beautiful, well-intentioned volunteers from all over the world. We have volunteers here from Germany, the US, Canada, Nepal, India, Vietnam, Mexico, and the UK. There are even 3 of us from Connecticut...so random!

It’s not all work here. Conscious Impact is very much work hard/play hard. Fridays and Saturdays are “off” days which means there aren’t any work projects, but plenty of other activities such as hikes, workshops, pizza making, baking, sunset walks, a “roll-in” breakfast on Saturdays complete with pancakes, fried eggs, and hash browns. On Saturday we also visited the local orphanage and continued work on an earth-bag bench for them! The kids helped as we stomped on cow poop to make the cob that goes around the exterior of the bench. It was delightfully fun! We also had a “trade circle” on Saturday where all us campers could trade possessions/skills we have for things other campers have. I traded away my trader joe’s peanut butter cups for a great new moose hat, I traded away a work shirt for a 45-minute massage, and I traded away some chocolate for a bag of raisins. It was hysterical watching all the trades taking place...so fun.

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It was back to work on Sunday and Monday. Sunday I spent the morning moving big stones and moving soil in preparation for a new permanent structure here on the camp for a new kitchen and common space. Currently, the kitchen and the common space are in open air structures made out of bamboo. They are wonderful spaces but eventually, the untreated bamboo weakens and has to be replaced. So, CConsciousImpact has decided to make these spaces permanent structures.

Sunday afternoon I went back to the orphanage to continue to work on the bench for the kids. We had such a blast being silly in the cow poop.

I’ve met so many open-hearted beautiful people at this place. People who dedicate their entire lives or a portion of their lives to service and human connection.

Sunday evening we had quite the dance party after dinner in the common space complete with house music, strobe lights, and complete silliness. No alcohol/drugs allowed at camp, but we were high on life and kicking it in the Himalayas!

Today (Monday) in the morning I worked on the team sewing earth-bags for the earth-bag house and in the afternoon I went down to the earth-bag house and laid barbed wire as I had done previously. I was on the dinner cook team today and we made awesome veggie burgers, French fries, and a green salad. Was quite the hit!

Nepal - Day 9

Today was my last full day at camp and my feelings are all over the place.I feel happy to come home and see my amazing boyfriend, my family, my friends and everyone else back home but also my heart is sad. I’ve met so many open-hearted beautiful people at this place. People who dedicate their entire lives or a portion of their lives to service and human connection.

Conscious Impact has really been about personal growth for me. Every day I was confronted, asked to do something I had never done before, asked to do something that my first instinct would be to reject. But somehow, you do it...you cook a meal for 25 people in an outdoor kitchen, you live in a cramped, dirty tent for 9 nights in the shivering cold, you take an outdoor shower with freezing cold water, you walk up and down steep hillsides after hard physical labor, you poop in a hole and cover what you did with sawdust, you hand wash your laundry, you get up before dawn and sit upright on a dusty floor and meditate even when all you want to do is sleep in, you pitch in where you can, you wrestle with cell service that rarely works at all, you move heavy bricks, you shovel soil, you lay down barbed wire, you stack earth bags, and you work side by side with people you’ve never met. But at the end of the day, you sit in a group and you say what about the day you were grateful for. You take that moment to reflect on all the joyful moments you had during the day. The wonderful conversations you had, noticing the remarkable capability of our bodies, the nourishing food we ate, the acts of kindness someone did for us, the warmth of the sun, the goodness we felt to work as a team, or just remembering a silly moment that filled your heart up. And in this gratitude, a shift begins. Little by little we learn to love, to grow, to share, to recognize the wonderful gift we have been given to be human and to live a life of vulnerability and compassion. We begin to recognize that our world is completely transformed when we give love.

I can’t say enough good things about this place and I really hope any of your reading will consider a trip here.

Oh this last day here, I worked in the morning with the agriculture team making a border around garden beds that spell out C.I. and then the shape of the Nepal flag. It was a wonderful last project with lots of laughs and we even played a prank on the earthbag sewing team by switching off their power so their sewing machine wouldn’t work. We had a good laugh with them and then we all got back to work.

In the afternoon I cleaned up my space to get ready for my departure and then walked around camp and took some more pictures of this beautiful space I’ve called home for the last 9 days. I’m attaching some pictures of camp here.

I hope to be back soon and maybe bring some friends too!

If you haven’t donated yet and if you are able to, please do so. I promise you that Conscious Impact uses every dollar to help this little sliver of Nepal in their efforts to rebuild after a devastating earthquake. 🇳🇵 🇳🇵❤️❤️

https://www.classy.org/fundraiser/1235744

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Youth Program Update

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Youth Program Update

Namaste from the Conscious Impact camp! We have some wonderful updates about what's been going on with the Youth Outreach program so far during Season 3. 

Long term volunteers Polly Gunton, Kendra McGowan, and Meghan Fox led by community partner Kumari Bomjam led the charge on building a garden and cob play-bench at the orphanage in Asilah Khakar. The aim of this project was to introduce a nourishing and natural element to the children's living space, and having them actively participate in the construction of their garden and play area. The garden project was commenced in November 2017, and the cob bench is on its way to being completed, with only a few more plaster layers needed in the coming weeks. 

With the return of Youth Outreach director Alyson Sagala in early March, Girls Empowerment programming was able to commence for 4 short sessions before the beginning of exams and time off for Nepali New Year. A highlight of the sessions included having groups of volunteers teach the girls how to make dreamcatchers, which were then sold for profit for a micro-business planning project. They also held a session for International Women's Day, and had a school-wide Sexual Reproductive Health day where core Girls Group members taught girls from other classes about menstruation, sexual anatomy, and self-defense.

As soon as school recommences in mid-April, the Youth Outreach team will continue environmental awareness and waste management workshops at the primary level, and will expand Girls Empowerment Programming to include young men at the secondary level, with the intention of inviting them to positive masculinity workshops. 

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The Magic of Moringa

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The Magic of Moringa

The Agriculture team here on the ground has some truly exciting updates! With the completion of our newest bamboo greenhouse, we were able to plant about 4,000 Moringa seedlings, of two distinct varieties. Moringa Oleifera is native to foothills of the Himalayas, exactly where we are currently located. The second variety, Moringa Stenopelata, grows at high altitudes in Ethiopia and Kenya, which is also fairly similar to Takure's altitude. Moringa is a tenacious and fast-growing tree, that can grow 2-3 meters in less than a year. It can be grown alongside to provide shade if grown in a sunnier area, or by itself in the clear sun. The Ag team plans to distribute these trees shortly before the monsoon season and hopes to have them established before the heavy rains fully arrive. 

Volunteers planting 4,000 trees!

Volunteers planting 4,000 trees!

Some of the many reasons we've decided to grow Moringa here in Nepal:

  • It's deep taproot won't have to compete with other vegetable and field crops for ground nutrients.
  • It is drought tolerant and will do well during Nepal's 9-10 month dry season.
  • The leave can be ground into a fine powder which has a high market value. Their long bean pods that can also be sold for 50 rupees/kg at market.
  • It can help alleviate malnutrition because it is high in Vitamin A, C, calcium, potassium, phosphorous, iron, and is a complete protein.
  • It's nutrient-dense leaves increase milk production in cows.
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Moringa Stenopelata seeds

Moringa Stenopelata seeds

Moringa Oleifera seeds

Moringa Oleifera seeds

Providing a space for experimental growing is one of the biggest advantages that the CI Ag team can provide for the local community, an opportunity to see if a lucrative crop like Moringa can grow in this exact terrain and altitude. More importantly, it supports our initiative to reforest this area, reinvigorating the surrounded environment, preventing terrace erosion and circumventing the danger of landslides in the future. 

Week old Moringa trees beginning to sprout

Week old Moringa trees beginning to sprout

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Books for Bricks

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Books for Bricks

“Books for Bricks”

By: Petey John Cunningham

 

Me, holding a poster we had made for the event.

Me, holding a poster we had made for the event.

A few weeks before I arrived in Nepal in December of 2015, I confess that doubt weighed heavily on my mind. I’m an international affairs student at Northeastern University in Boston, and much of my degree has been spent learning about international development. Despite my decision to volunteer, I’d heard countless examples of irresponsible or exploitative development practices and feared that those practices, or worse, awaited me in Takure.

"I was relieved and grateful to find an organization as responsible, caring and hard-working as Conscious Impact proved to be."

Sale day, with my Nepali friend Raj manning the booth!

Sale day, with my Nepali friend Raj manning the booth!

The ten days I spent with the Conscious Impact team tore those fears from my mind, root and stem.... I was relieved and grateful to find an organization as responsible, caring and hard-working as Conscious Impact proved to be. Upon my return to Boston in the fall of 2016 after a semester studying in London, I decided that I wanted to raise funds for this cause and organization that to this day remains so close to my heart.

My Momma, helping to sort and organize books!

My Momma, helping to sort and organize books!

During my time in London, I attended a $1 used book fundraiser hosted by Amnesty International. I decided to bring the idea back to Boston and host my own series of book sales within the Northeastern community, on behalf of Conscious Impact. This approach heartily appealed to me because it creates value for both the giver and the receiver, donors get wonderful new reading material, and the people of Takure get the funds they need to rebuild.

Conscious Impact’s official Sales Associates!

Conscious Impact’s official Sales Associates!

I sent emails to bookstores, libraries, professors, family and friends, soliciting book donations from as many sources as I could imagine; I parted with much of my own personal library. At one point, over 800 books sat in my Mom’s living room; you can imagine how appreciative she was of the clutter! I used my connections with two groups on campus, the Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy (PHRGE) and the NU Buddhist Group, to have the sales officially sanctioned by the university and, in October, I held my first sale. With friends and family staffing the tables, and speakers blaring our favorite music, the “Books for Bricks” vibe was more ‘party’ than ‘bookstore’!

Northeastern’s mascot Paws striking a pose!

Northeastern’s mascot Paws striking a pose!

The fundraiser cost me no more than time, and the gas I used driving my mom’s little red Chevy to transport boxes, first from the donors to my home, and then from my home to the sale sites. Each book cost only $1, but customers were, of course, encouraged to donate extra if the urge struck them. Often enough, they generously left me their change, or an extra dollar or two. All in all, the sales raised $1573.87.

I have to take a moment to thank all those who helped: my fantastic friends, my many book donors, and my incomparable mother. Their assistance made all the difference.

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Bricks For Nepal 2017

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Bricks For Nepal 2017

The Time is Now:

Rebuilding in Nepal

(Create a fundraising page, or donate here.)

 

"If families do not rebuild before June 2018, they will not receive government aid." 

Now is the time. More than two and a half years ago, the powerful Gorkha Earthquake struck Nepal, destroying tens of thousands of homes, and knocking down every one of the 240 homes in Takure, Sindhupalchok. For the last two years, most families have continued to live in temporary structures, built of wood scraps and tin, saving money and resources for a new home. Earlier this year, the government announced that any family wishing to receive the government-allocated USD $3000 in aid must rebuild their home before June. That gives the entire region 7 months to build. Conscious Impact wants to be in the center of this rebuild, providing thousands of bricks to families all across the region.

Photo 1: Krishna Kafle, our closest neighbor in Takure, nears the finish of his home’s foundation. Now he must decide which bricks to use to complete his walls and strive to finish his home before June. With support, he will rebuild his home with our CSEBs.

Photo 1: Krishna Kafle, our closest neighbor in Takure, nears the finish of his home’s foundation. Now he must decide which bricks to use to complete his walls and strive to finish his home before June. With support, he will rebuild his home with our CSEBs.

To rebuild their homes, community members must quickly dig their foundations, lay stone and mud up to the plinth level (just above ground level) and then find appropriate and affordable building materials for their walls. They can use stone for the walls, similar to the homes they had before the earthquake, but most families will seek bricks to ensure an earthquake-safe home. This is where Conscious Impact can offer support.

 

"Bhaktapur bricks have not only been shown to cause more than 60% of the air pollution in Kathmandu, but have poor human rights records, keeping child employees out of school."

 

DONATE HERE

Photo 2: A “Bhaktapur brick” production facility near Kathmandu. Recent studies show that this industry creates as much as 60% of the region’s pollution and also relies on child labor, keeping youth out of school. Our hope is that our CSEBs will provide an environmentally sustainable alternative.       

Photo 2: A “Bhaktapur brick” production facility near Kathmandu. Recent studies show that this industry creates as much as 60% of the region’s pollution and also relies on child labor, keeping youth out of school. Our hope is that our CSEBs will provide an environmentally sustainable alternative.

 

 

Photo 3: The Conscious Impact “Bricks for Nepal” construction team produces environmentally sustainable and earthquake-safe CSEBs as quickly as possible to be distributed across Sindhupalchok

Photo 3: The Conscious Impact “Bricks for Nepal” construction team produces environmentally sustainable and earthquake-safe CSEBs as quickly as possible to be distributed across Sindhupalchok

The most common brick in the market is the wood-fired “Bhaktapur brick,” manufactured by large corporations in Kathmandu and southern Nepal. These bricks have not only been shown to cause more than 60% of the air pollution in Kathmandu, but have poor human rights records, keeping child employees out of school. Additionally, these bricks must be transported many miles over the mountains to reach Takure and the nearby communities, putting more trucks on the roads and draining money from the villages to the cities. On the other hand, Conscious Impact provides locally produced, environmentally sustainable and earthquake-safe bricks that are cheaper and stronger than the standard Bhaktapur bricks.

"...we believe that the environmentally sustainable CSEBs could become one of the region’s top choices for reconstruction."

While it seems that these facts would make the decision easy for community members, the truth is the choice is still hard. The Conscious Impact Compressed Stabilized Earth Blocks (CSEBs) are a new technology in the region, and some people are skeptical. Still, with effective advertising and strengthened community relationships we believe that the environmentally sustainable CSEBs could become one of the region’s top choices for reconstruction. If this becomes a reality, it means more jobs for locals and a sustainable social enterprise that could last for decades. For Conscious Impact, now is the time to invest in this social business.

Photo 4: Uddhav Kafle, after two years of working with Conscious Impact, stands on top of his nearly completed home, built with the CSEBs that he helped produce. With the money from his salary, he was able to complete a beautiful, earthquake-safe and environmentally sustainable home for his family that will last for generations to come.

Photo 4: Uddhav Kafle, after two years of working with Conscious Impact, stands on top of his nearly completed home, built with the CSEBs that he helped produce. With the money from his salary, he was able to complete a beautiful, earthquake-safe and environmentally sustainable home for his family that will last for generations to come.

While Conscious Impact has a number of ongoing projects (a beautiful earthbag home, coffee farming and sustainable agriculture, for example), growing our brick business is our most urgent focus. This is our chance to support dozens of families to rebuild their homes across the region, and to establish a social business that could employ generations of local men and women. To do this, we need help. Our goal is to supply bricks to at least 20 homes this year, and more if possible.

To scale the brick distribution, we need to subsidize the bricks by 12 cents/brick. This will make the price competitive and support families to build their homes more affordably. It is also a direct investment into families’ reconstruction processes. At 12 cents per brick, we need $450 per home (a four-bedroom home with hallway). In other words, for every $450 that we raise we can collaborate with a local family to build an earthquake-safe and environmentally sustainable home. For 20 homes, we need $9000. One hundred percent of any donation goes directly towards subsidizing bricks.

Let’s help Takure and the surrounding communities rebuild earthquake-safe homes with earth harvested from their own land and bricks made by their own hands! Support Conscious Impact with an investment into our brick business that will last for generations to come.

 

Create a fundraising page or donate now.

Click Here

For every $450 raised, one family will be able to rebuild using CSEBs. 

Photo 5: The first brick purchase of Season 3! Prem Bahadur Tamang and his wife stand proudly next to their CSEBs. In the 2015 earthquake, their two-story stone structure fell. Now, they will use these bricks to build their new home, beautiful and earthquake safe. Our hope is that Conscious Impact can support at least 20 other families to have the same opportunity.

Photo 5: The first brick purchase of Season 3! Prem Bahadur Tamang and his wife stand proudly next to their CSEBs. In the 2015 earthquake, their two-story stone structure fell. Now, they will use these bricks to build their new home, beautiful and earthquake safe. Our hope is that Conscious Impact can support at least 20 other families to have the same opportunity.

Photo 6: Conscious Impact volunteers help to load bricks into a truck for a delivery to Prem Bahadur Tamang and his family. Everyone that comes to volunteer with Conscious Impact will be directly involved in distributing bricks to families around the region. #cometonepal

Photo 6: Conscious Impact volunteers help to load bricks into a truck for a delivery to Prem Bahadur Tamang and his family. Everyone that comes to volunteer with Conscious Impact will be directly involved in distributing bricks to families around the region. #cometonepal

Photo 6: Buddha Tamang, a local farmer and friend to Conscious Impact, stands in the middle of his home construction, checking the foundation to ensure quality work. Most families are directly involved in the construction of their own homes, and also hire outside masons to support with skilled labor.

Photo 6: Buddha Tamang, a local farmer and friend to Conscious Impact, stands in the middle of his home construction, checking the foundation to ensure quality work. Most families are directly involved in the construction of their own homes, and also hire outside masons to support with skilled labor.

Photo 7: Laborers at Buddha Tamang’s home break stone to be used in the foundation

Photo 7: Laborers at Buddha Tamang’s home break stone to be used in the foundation

Photo 8: Everyone gets involved in the construction process! A young boy plays with an empty wheelbarrow on site of a local community home reconstruction.

Photo 8: Everyone gets involved in the construction process! A young boy plays with an empty wheelbarrow on site of a local community home reconstruction.

Photo 9: One of the newest female employees of Conscious Impact Nepal Pvt. Ltd., a Nepali-operated social enterprise providing jobs to local men and women to produce CSEBs

Photo 9: One of the newest female employees of Conscious Impact Nepal Pvt. Ltd., a Nepali-operated social enterprise providing jobs to local men and women to produce CSEBs


 

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The Bimire Earthbag House

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The Bimire Earthbag House

The Bimire Earthbag House

Rebuilding a Sustainable and Earthquake-Safe Home for the Acharya Family.

 

A special moment of connection between Ankit, a Conscious Impact volunteer from India, and Ama Acharya. There are more ways to communicate than words, and with this family we must find alternatives every day.

A special moment of connection between Ankit, a Conscious Impact volunteer from India, and Ama Acharya. There are more ways to communicate than words, and with this family we must find alternatives every day.

 

Every year, there is one project at Conscious Impact that steals the heart of every volunteer that comes to our camp. This year that project is the Bimire Earthbag House, a full-power effort to build a new home for the Acharya family, the most vulnerable family in the community. On April 25th, 2015, the Acharya’s lost their house in the powerful earthquake, like the rest of the region’s families, leaving Chandra Bahadur Acharya, his wife, his sister and their 4 children homeless. While hundreds of families begin to rebuild their homes this year, however, the Acharya’s had little hope of ever rebuilding on their own: Chandra Bahadur, his wife and sister are all deaf and mute, unable to communicate with the greater community and extremely economically disadvantaged. For this reason, the Bimire community asked Conscious Impact for support.

 

 

 

"The Acharya’s had little hope of ever rebuilding on their own: Chandra Bahadur, his wife, and sister are all deaf and mute."

 

Our amazing “groundbreaking” team of volunteers and Nepali staff working hard to dig the foundation of our newest project, the Bimire Earthbag House.

Our amazing “groundbreaking” team of volunteers and Nepali staff working hard to dig the foundation of our newest project, the Bimire Earthbag House.

Last month, our volunteers and Nepali staff began the reconstruction process, moving hundreds of kilograms of soil to clear and level the land in preparation for the foundation. Now, we have completed the foundation and next week we will begin the earthbag walls! The goal is to complete the home by January, allowing the family to move into their new home before the cold of winter reaches its height.

 

 

 

"These bags ensure that even during the powerful monsoon rains, the foundation of the home will remain well drained and the walls undamaged."

 

The “bag sewing” team back at camp, working diligently to keep up with the rising earthbag walls on site .   

The “bag sewing” team back at camp, working diligently to keep up with the rising earthbag walls on site.

 

Today, I was blessed to spend time on site as 9 volunteers plus the family’s oldest son Namraj worked together to lay the first course of gravel bags. These bags ensure that even during the powerful monsoon rains, the foundation of the home will remain well drained and the walls undamaged. It is hard work, but with a big team the bags fill quickly. Each bag was carefully measured, labeled and sewn closed by a team of volunteers working as quickly as possible back at camp to keep up with the work at the site. “Bag sewing” is a daily work task at camp, and a great way to rest the body while still contributing essential work to the project.

 

 

 The family’s son Namraj stands on the edge of the construction site at the end of a morning’s work admiring the progress. Filled gravel bags cover the site and the Langtang mountain range hides behind the clouds in the distance. 

 The family’s son Namraj stands on the edge of the construction site at the end of a morning’s work admiring the progress. Filled gravel bags cover the site and the Langtang mountain range hides behind the clouds in the distance. 

Sitting in the Acharya’s current house, a small, temporary structure built with broken wood and leftover pieces of tin provides perspective to the project. Seven people sleep on this tiny floor on rice mats every night, and everything they own hangs above them. Yet still, below the drying corn and torn clothes, the mother makes a fire to cook zucchini and cornmeal for lunch with a smile on her face. We communicate with gestures, she invites us to stay for food but we clarify that we will leave before lunch to return to camp. She smiles again and we share a confirmation that everything is OK.

Alex and Mac, two volunteers, fill a bag with gravel as part of the foundation construction. The home sits on a bluff with a beautiful view of the Langtang mountain range.

Alex and Mac, two volunteers, fill a bag with gravel as part of the foundation construction. The home sits on a bluff with a beautiful view of the Langtang mountain range.

 

 

 

This project will be a large focus of our volunteer efforts over the next 3-4 months as we build the new home from foundation to roof. Every volunteer that visits us will have the opportunity to learn the process of earthbag construction and get their hands dirty moving soil, filling bags and laying the walls. This project will also take a large sum of the Conscious Impact funding, budgeted at USD $8000.

 

 

 

 

If you or anyone you know wants to contribute directly to this project, please write us at consciousimpact.nepal@gmail.com or send us a message.

Every dollar helps.

 

 

Thank you to the more than 50 volunteers that have already put their sweat and labor into this project, and to all of the Conscious Impact community around the world for making this work possible. We send blessings to you all from Takure, Nepal!

The Acharya’s sister sits to watch the construction of her new home. Both deaf and mute, like her brother and his wife, she mostly watches in silence. They say she is also blind, but the way she watches our work I know she must see something.       Written by: Orion Haas  / Photography: Ankit Tanu

The Acharya’s sister sits to watch the construction of her new home. Both deaf and mute, like her brother and his wife, she mostly watches in silence. They say she is also blind, but the way she watches our work I know she must see something.

 

Written by: Orion Haas / Photography: Ankit Tanu

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Youth Outreach Program Update: End of the Year Summary

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Youth Outreach Program Update: End of the Year Summary

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2017 is coming to an end and our Youth Outreach program is excited to share with you an update on their 2017 projects! Here is a summary of the major projects and programming we led thorughout the year.


Shakya Jenisha and Alyson Sagala teamed up to start the Girls Empowerment Program at the Nawalpur Secondary School, where they met once a week to run workshops and classes around female identity, expression, safety, and sexual health education. Alyson and Jenisha received materials from the organization Days for Girls to help aid in teaching reproductive health in the secondary school. The girls were nervous yet excited to learn more about their bodies, a conversation that is not common throughout schools in Nepal.


Co-Coordinator Ellen Stewart created and facilitated a series of workshops at both the primary and secondary level at multiple schools in our area which focused on waste management and environmental sustainability. The curriculum centered around teaching concepts like biodegradability and climate change, as well as engaging students with hands-on projects like building cob waste bins at their schools. 

As an initiative to create an inclusive community between volunteers and locals we invited local students on field trips to the Conscious Impact camp. We held field trips for the students at Bimire and Takure Primary, where students visited the camp and learned about the nature of Conscious Impact's work with sustainable rebuilding and regenerative agro-forestry. Students planted trees alongside our agriculture team, learned about compost, and watched the CSEB brick making process.

Co-Coordinator Lily Foster helped facilitate and organize art classes at Nawalpur Secondary in the mornings before regular classes. Students were thrilled to learn watercolor painting techniques (using donated paints!), basic sketching, and paper maché!

Volunteers continued to visit both the Takure and Bimire Primary School to hold play-oriented learning classes with students ages 3-11 years old. Many volunteers over the course of the season helped to paint classrooms at Takure Primary and Nawalpur Secondary School. We worked alongside students to paint and decorate their classrooms, turning their once dark classrooms into an engaging and playful learning environment. 

Thank you to volunteer Yotam Machat and Joshua Umesh who led a playground design project using recycled materials. Volunteers and students worked together to build a caterpillar playground structure made from cement and recycled car tires.

Thank you to volunteer Laurie Tobia who led projects in painting murals around the community. Laurie, with the help of some students and volunteers, painted a beautiful mural at the Bimire Primary School.


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A special thank you to all the dedicated volunteers who contributed their time and energy to the Youth Outreach Program this past season! Thank you to our education coordinators Alyson Sagala, Ellen Stewart, Lily Foster, and Shakya Jenisha for leading these amazing projects. Thank you to Jonathan Lee for photographing these projects.


The Youth Outreach program is always looking for volunteers interested in non-traditional learning and youth/girls empowerment! Those interested in staying long term will have the opportunity to develop and implement their own programming and curriculum if they wish to do so, with guidance from coordinators like myself and local teachers. 

We hope to see you in 2018!

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8 Reasons Why You Should Practice Yoga in Nepal

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8 Reasons Why You Should Practice Yoga in Nepal

Join us in Takure, Nepal for Conscious Impact's 3rd Annual Yoga Retreat.

10 Days of Yoga and Service. November 6th - 15th 2017.

Fill Out an Interest Form Here.

 

1. Strengthen Your Yoga Practice

with Dharma Shakti

 

Dharma Shakti is a Yoga Instructor, Aryuvedic Practitioner, Pancha Karma Specialist, Licensed Massage Therapist, Kirtan Wallah, Owner and Founder of Yogalution Movement and Creator of Free Yoga on The Bluff.

Yogalution Movement is a socially active, donation-based yoga studio that specializes in community mobilization. The center is best known for 'Yoga on the Bluff' an outdoor, twice-a-day yoga donation based class that is open to everyone, regardless of their experience! This class inspired what would become Conscious Impact's Yoga for Nepal Retreat.   

Dharma continues her studies with her many mentors and spiritual teachers, having a deeply rooted foundation in the Gaudiya Vaishnava Tradition, an ancient lineage, she studies and finds knowledge and wisdom in Vedic Sciences such as Bhakti and Jnana yoga, Spiritual Scriptures such as the Bhagavad Gita and ancient Yogic Wisdom of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras are her biggest influences. 

One of her many teachers,  Tukaram Das Prabhu, whom which she studied with for 10 years, has had a very big impact on the way Dharma teaches Yoga and the way in which she delivers Yoga Philosophy in her classes. Without his guidance, she would not be the teacher she is today.

This year marks Dharma's third visit to the village of Takure for another beautiful 10 days of service.

2. Practice with a Community of Yogis from Across the Globe

 

Yoga for Nepal is Conscious Impact's 3rd annual yoga retreat in Takure, Nepal. Every year we welcome guest from countries all over the world. Expand your yoga practice with diverse knowledge from yogis across the globe. Practice together, hike together, cook together, volunteer together and create life lasting friendships. We pride ourselves in creating a volunteer community where everyone is encouraged and comfortable to express their truest selves. Spend your evening teaching your favorite workshop, or join in on other activities, sit in the tipi and share stories and poetry with your new friends. If you have an idea for a fun activity at camp, talk to us, we will help you set it up! 

 

"However I was not prepared for the inner peace and contentment that I feel every day in this sacred place."

- Aoife Kane

3. Practice Seva Yoga (Selfless Service)

 

The act of selfless service leads to collective benefit and gain even though it is performed without regard for the outcome of the individual. In performing acts selflessly, one must confront his/her own difficulties, resistance and negativity. One learns to recognize personal thought patterns and behaviors, as well as different facets of his/her personality. Through this heightened self-awareness, one can surrender the aspects of his/her personality that are no longer serving him/her and find an inner peace which is not dependent on or influenced by external factors.

It is said that Seva yoga is a combination of Karma yoga, the yoga of action, and Bhakti yoga, the yoga of love and devotion. In practicing Seva yoga, one serves others with his/her actions and does it with an attitude of pure, selfless love.

"The essence of Seva yoga is said to be encapsulated by the roots of the word. Seva comes from the Sanskrit words saha, meaning “with that,” and eva, meaning “too.” Thus, seva means 'together with.'"

4. Practice Karma Yoga

 

"The intention when practicing karma yoga is to give selflessly for the good of others without thought of one's self or attachment to the results of one's actions. Acting in this way is considered the right way to approach service and it is said to purify the mind."

Karma yoga is an ancient concept. The path of karma yoga is described in the Hindu sacred text, the Bhagavad Gita. It is also taught by zen teachers.

Karma yoga is relevant to all yogis because, to some extent, everyone must undertake some actions during their lifetime. By practicing karma yoga, all of these actions, even the most mundane, can become part of one's spiritual path. Practicing karma yoga also means to fully accept one's dharma, or life’s duty, and to let go of selfish desires. In doing so, one sublimates the ego.

5. Strengthen Your Hatha and Bhakti Yoga Practice   

BHAKTI YOGA

The intention when practicing Bhakti yoga is to devote one's self to the Divine that is in everything and, thus, to realize the union of the individual self with God. It is motivated by a love of God rather than a fear of negative repercussions or punishment and has been described as the sweetest of the yogic paths since it develops love and acceptance for all beings.

The Bhakti path of yoga is a path of the heart and practitioners may use chanting, devotional mantras, prayer, kirtan and rituals as part of their worship. 

HATHA YOGA

Hatha yoga is the yoga tradition most familiar to Western culture. The term is derived from the Sanskrit ha, meaning "sun," and tha, meaning "moon." The practice aims to unite the active and receptive qualities represented by each celestial being.

Practitioners of Hatha yoga use physical alignment and breathing control to achieve an equilibrium between the active body and its universe. The resulting harmony manifests itself as physical strength, physiological health and emotional well-being.

 

6. Practice Yoga in the Himalayas  

 

Takure is located in the foothills of the Himalayas just 60 km north/east of Kathmandu. Our camp is steps away from the Langtang mountain range and the dramatic views are a short hike away. Our classes are all held outdoors allowing you to breath in the mountain air, listen to animals in the jungle, and watch the dramatic sun set as you strengthen your practice. During the retreat we offer hikes through the local community and into the nearby mountains. Practice yoga as some of the highest peaks in the world look over you in the distance. 

7. Spend Time With the Local Community

 

The Nepali community is rich in Hindu and Buddhist tradition. During festival season in the fall, we've been lucky enough to engage many festivities with the villagers. Last year, we assisted in the construction of a 40 foot bamboo swing, partook in festive feasts, and danced in the roads to the music of the Madal (nepali drum). In the afternoons, we can walk five minutes to the local tea shop to share cups of hot milk tea and laughs with community members while practicing our Nepali. 

 

8. Daily Yoga Classes, Meditation, Chanting, Vegetarian Meals and More!

SIGN UP HERE

(This is not a deposit and does not count as an official attendance. This is an interest form so we can begin planning your journey in Nepal. Sign up, ask questions, request a phone call, and learn more! We look forward to seeing you in Nepal!) 

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