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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Meet Narayan: A Philosopher and a Farmer

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Meet Narayan: A Philosopher and a Farmer

Narayan Bhatterai is the local leader for Conscious Impact's agriculture program and was recently named the chairman of the new Basic Organic Coffee Cooperative in Takure. Out of affection, we call him Narayan "Mama", which means "uncle" in Nepali. 


Q: Tell us about yourself.

A: Namaste, my name is Vishnu Bhatterai, but people know me as Narayan Bhatterai. My house is in Nawalpur, Takure Ward number 4. In some ways, my life has been painful. Because nobody can say, “My life is full of happiness.” Everybody has their own pain. Everybody has their own suffering. My life has been different than others in certain ways. I didn’t receive the warmth of love from my mother and father. I never got the chance to realize what that kind of love was like. When I look back on my childhood, there was a lot of suffering. It doesn’t matter how many times you’re injured, because when you are able to heal, you are stronger. In my life now, I have a place to be satisfied. There is a reason we pick from the edge of the river when choosing a loro (stone pestle). It is those stones that pass through the most struggle and hardship, making them strong. They are the best for the work that needs to be done.


"It doesn’t matter how many times you’re injured, because when you are able to heal, you are stronger." 


My father died when I was 1 and a half years old. I never knew the face of my father. When I was 7 years old, my mother remarried to another man, and then left him. After that, my life was not so easy. By the age of 14 -15, I went to live with my maternal uncle. I grew up there, and I was able to complete some of my studies. After that I went back to my house in Takure, and got married. Right now I have 5 members of my family. My two daughters are a blessing from God. They are so much better than me. I forget all my pain when looking at my family. I am satisfied. The earthquake brought a lot of pain and sadness. Yet after this sadness, to some extent there is always happiness, because we were able to find a new family in Conscious Impact. I met them, and had the chance to sit with them, talk with one another and recognize each other. All of this is such good luck. This is a good opportunity, because every challenge has possibilities and every possibility has challenges. This is my experience.


"There is a reason we pick from the edge of the river when choosing a loro (stone pestle). It is those stones that pass through the most struggle and hardship, making them strong. "


I have a simple family and don’t have so many fields for farming. I have one cow and two baby cows. The cow gives me milk. I have 5-6 goats. Simply our life is going on. Maybe I’m not able to fulfill all my children’s wishes, desires, and happiness. But I am trying. I am trying to give more than 50%. If I am able to at least give 51%, I can be satisfied. And when it comes back to 49%, that is my bad luck.

A single individual makes up one part of the whole, while the community makes up the bigger part. If society improves and develops, then your village, your tole (small community), your VDC, will also grow to be better. Just because your neighbor is rich, doesn’t mean that you are poor. This is a way of thinking that still exists, and hasn’t disappeared. I hope that it doesn’t. I am satisfied with this way of thinking.

The benefits we receive as individuals are not large. We are not taking any things with us, yet we try to earn so much to have sufficient things. We come into this world with empty hands, live in nature, step on this earth, breathe the air, drink the water, get warmth from fire. And when we die, we leave empty handed. We reach again the water, and are burned by the flame, mixing our soul back into the fire. We take only the satisfaction that we drew from our own lives and the thoughts that others had of us, when we die.


"We come into this world with empty hands...And when we die, we leave empty handed...We take only the satisfaction that we drew from our own lives and the thoughts that others had of us, when we die."


 

Q: What role does agriculture play in your life, and why is agriculture important to you?

A: When I was in class 8 or 9, I learned that Nepal is an agricultural country. About 87-90% of people rely on farming to live. Slowly, there was a decrease in production because people were becoming less interested in agriculture. This is sad for me, and for everyone. Everyone has begun flying to other countries for work. People are constantly fighting one another for government jobs, or for any kind of work. The number of people that focus their time on agriculture is decreasing day by day. This really hurts me, because we are sacrificing so much to try and work abroad, giving so much blood and sweat working for someone else in a different country.

Increasing population, the population density, unregulated farming methods, the use of chemicals and unnatural fertilizers -- all of these things are leading to less income generation and more expenses. Because of all these things, people are moving away from agriculture, and just trying to find easier work.  Because of all these reasons, agriculture is the most important thing. It is life. Along with this, agriculture protects the whole world. Agriculture takes care of all human beings and animals. Because of all these things, I am more interested in agriculture, and more attracted to agriculture.

 

Q: Why are you interested in growing organically?

A: When we adapt to organic farming, I believe that the soil that is now dying will slowly regenerate. If the soil is good, we’ll be good as well. If soil is healthy, you will also be healthy. Thinking about all these things, we have to make the soil healthy and more fertile. If we make the soil unhealthy, then we will also be unhealthy. Maybe we’ll be able to make money just for the present moment, but we cannot avoid questions about what we will do in the future?

Now it seems we are too late. We have made the 5 elements of our world impure and muddled. We are human beings who have a big responsibility, but we are becoming selfish and only focusing on our individual needs.

Air, water, earth, and soil -- all these things are our life. Yet we think we can challenge these things, and move forward with the wrong concept of trying to control them.


"Challenging nature is a foolish thing. We use the word 'development, development' but it is only bringing destruction. If we forget to keep a balance between development and destruction, or our future generations will resent us."


Challenging nature is a foolish thing. We use the word “development, development” but it is only bringing destruction. If we forget to keep a balance between development and destruction, or our future generations will resent us. Meditating on all those things, the only way to make soil healthy is through organic farming.

 

Q: How did Takure move away from organic farming and start using chemicals?

A: In 2036 B.S. there was a huge famine. I had only heard about this because at the time I was only 2-3 years old. After that, chemical fertilizers became popular to use, and people were so happy to see the very quick increase in abundance.

In the last 30 years, we have given birth to unheard diseases and unhealthily polluted air and water. Because of deforestation, and the use of unnatural fertilizers and chemicals, the soil is not able to bear the load, because everything has balance. Now it’s time to think deeper. Even if we aren’t thinking about it right now, imagine what will happen if we continue using chemicals and fertilizers at this pace. Deforestation leads to landslides and flooding, and yet we are continuing these practices. And the use of chemicals will leave future generations with nutrient-less, poor quality food.


"Deforestation leads to landslides and flooding, and yet we are continuing these practices. And the use of chemicals will leave future generations with nutrient-less, poor quality food."


Only the owners of those companies who make chemical fertilizers are earning money. Farmers are investing money, and making money, but losing more. Even if we do hard work into the future, by the end of it we will not have a good environment for farming anymore. Still we have time, and if we coordinate with each other, getting helping hands, it won’t be too late, even though there’s little time left. We can stop all this destruction and save the soil.

We can give life, and to give life is to give a future for our children and to save our world. Along with this, it’s important to keep ourselves healthy, not only yourself, but all creatures, and the whole planet.

With continued support, interest, and help -- one day Takure will be a place that is again fully organic. I am hopeful that one day it will be like this.

 

Q: What does partnering with us to bring organic coffee to the community mean to you?

A: I was in my own lifestyle and my own way of thinking. After the big earthquake, you chose to come here after seeing our pain and suffering. We were given the chance to receive this help. 


"Even before the earthquake, day to day life was difficult. After the earthquake, it was like we were left naked. It was a pitiful situation. "


Even before the earthquake, day to day life was difficult. After the earthquake, it was like we were left naked. It was a pitiful situation. There were no businesses around or government services or jobs in this area. For the five of us in my family, it was very hard. Without work, it is so hard for me to take care of my family. When  you [Conscious Impact] came along many villagers received job opportunities. Not only jobs, but got the chance to serve our own community. Brick making is a service to the community. We now have a coffee nursery. And this is not just for one individual, but for the community. If the community will rise up, I can also rise up. I am the smallest part of the community.

Not only me, my society, my community -- we need to stand up together. We all need to understand what the truth is. This is my expectation. Even though we may not be able to help with every sector, with the help from Conscious Impact we’ve started a nursery, we began growing 10,000 coffee trees, and next year we will plant another 10,000 coffee trees. Slowly in 3-4 years, we will have 40-50,000 coffee plants.

This will be a great source of organic farming. Along with this, people’s standard of living will be improved. Growing this organic coffee will mean not having to work as hard every year because we will not have to plant every year. We just have to plant once, give care, and provide water. If you wait for 2-3 years, then you will regularly be able to make income for 40-50 years. On one side, it is beneficial for human beings as a source of income, and on the other side it is beneficial to the soil because it is grown organically. It is healthy for us as human beings.


"Growing this organic coffee will mean not having to work as hard every year because we will not have to plant every year."


You [Conscious Impact] have given so much inspiration, so much help, and you’ve made us so much more enthusiastic. For this, we want to say thank you. I hope this community will take this in a positive way. Truly, we don’t have to just focus on temporary happiness, and we have to think about the future. I want to thank Dheeraj Mishra for bringing Conscious Impact to Takure.  I want to thank my community as well.

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The Formation of a Coffee Cooperative

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The Formation of a Coffee Cooperative

Meet the "Basic Organic Coffee Cooperative"

June 18th, 2017

Our "Basic Organic Coffee Cooperative." Elected chairman Narayan Bhattarai stands third from the left and the Sakute offical stands third from the right. The committee is 3 men and 4 women, and represents 4 different casts within the community. 

Our "Basic Organic Coffee Cooperative." Elected chairman Narayan Bhattarai stands third from the left and the Sakute offical stands third from the right. The committee is 3 men and 4 women, and represents 4 different casts within the community. 

This week with the help of our own Greg Robinson and Narayan Bhattarai Mama, Conscious Impact formed the Takure branch of the Nepali based coffee cooperative! On Saturday we were excited to set up a training with a representative from the Sakute Coffee Cooperative in Nepal and the local community. Sakute is a town in Sindhupalchowk, the same district as Takure and only a short bus ride away. A representative from the cooperative came to Takure this week to provide a training regarding the structure, requirement and benefits of the co-op model. To join the cooperative members were asked to provide citizen cards and passport photographs. We are so excited that 46 women and men turned in their paperwork and the cooperative has officially formed! We now have 26 members from Takure and 20 members from Bimire. Others in the community will still have the opportunity to join in the coming years.

Members meet for a training with a representative from Sakute.

Members meet for a training with a representative from Sakute.

The cooperative has been named the "Basic Organic Coffee Coopetavie." Basic means to be directly connected to the earth through simple and organic means of farming. 

Apart from forming the cooperative, the members sat together and elected a 7 person committee to represent the "Basic Organic Coffee Cooperative." Narayan Bhattarai was unanimously selected as the chairman of the committee. Of those elected as representatives 4 were men and 3 were women. The elected committee represents families from 4 casts, Brahmin, Tamang, Magar, and Dahal. We're so excited for this opportunity to have women and men working together as well as families form 4 casts. 

A huge thank you to our agriculture team and Mandu Tapa (third from the left). 

A huge thank you to our agriculture team and Mandu Tapa (third from the left). 

The cooperative is Nepali run and organized and supports an equal women to men committee. The chairwoman of the cooperative is Mandu Tapa who has been extraordinary in helping us form the Takure/Bimire branch of the cooperative. We are incredibly grateful to everyone who has been a part of forming the cooperative. None of this would be possible without the support of volunteers and donors from around the world. To learn more about our More Than a Tree campaign and supporting the farmers of our community click HERE. Please consider donating to help us continue this project, and for every $1 donated one tree is planted!! DONATE NOW!

"Coffee is less of an investment. I can spend less money and generate more income." - Gopal Achraya

"Coffee is less of an investment. I can spend less money and generate more income." - Gopal Achraya

"I'm excited to plant coffee because small worms destroy corn and millet. It is much easier to plant coffee." - "Bal Kumari Dahal

"I'm excited to plant coffee because small worms destroy corn and millet. It is much easier to plant coffee." - "Bal Kumari Dahal

"I'm excited to plant coffee because it provides a long lasting income generating source." -Amar Bdr. Ranamagar

"I'm excited to plant coffee because it provides a long lasting income generating source." -Amar Bdr. Ranamagar

"There is a big problem with Monkeys destroying other crops and I think coffee will be good." - Sarita Achraya

"There is a big problem with Monkeys destroying other crops and I think coffee will be good." - Sarita Achraya

Support our More Than a Tree Campaign by clicking

 

Written By: Bryce G. Tanner, Greg Robinson

Photography: Greg Robinson, Rebeca Segal, and Jonathan H. Lee

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Meet Buddha: A Farmer Using Permaculture in Nepal

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Meet Buddha: A Farmer Using Permaculture in Nepal

Meet Buddha Tamang 


A note from the interview: Buddha Tamang is an elderly Buddhist man living just down the hill from Conscious Impact's camp. His friends in the village could only praise him for his love of organic farming and dedication to his plants and trees. We knew we had to meet him. He is a permaculture enthusiast in every definition of the word. He plants in a way that benefits all the living things near and on his land. His trees are intermixed with crops and everything he grows has a purpose. His devotion to Buddhism is directly reflected into the way he farms. Buddha has often said he loves his trees as much as his children. He loves to talk about his life, his plants, and how he has coped through major distresses including the passing of his wife and the 2015 earthquake. Buddha is now a close friend, a coffee co-op member, and a mentor, we visit him often. 


Q: How is your way of planting trees different, and what is special about that?

A: My original home is not here, but in Daduwa. When I first moved to this land there was not a single tree. This land was just for grazing animals for the people of Takure and Dude. From that corner of land to the other, in the 15-20 ropanis (2-2.5 acres) of land, I could only collect 1 basket of grass.

All that I have planted I brought from somewhere else. This tree here, has grown here (pointing to large tree behind him). This land had no plants or trees, when I first bought plants, I didn't know how to grow them. Then I learned how to use compost. There wasn't any grass for my animals to feed on, so I learned to grow grass. Now this time, there won't be wood shortages or problems. We grow trees for wood and bamboo to make baskets. Before we used to carry everything in rice sack bags, but now we use bamboo to carry things and make baskets.

When my wife was sick, I learned how to grow fruit trees, specifically lemon trees. I took my wife to India and other foreign countries. I would carry around lemons in my pocket to put in water when I wanted to drink. When she was in the hospital there was no one at home to wash my clothes. I took off my jacket and hung it in my house and did not wash it for a year after she was sick. After one year, once she had passed away, I reached for my coat again, and found the same 2 lemons, but now they had become dry. When I opened them, there were 11 seeds. I wanted to know if they would grow, so I planted all 11 seeds in the mud. I wanted to try, and all 11 seeds grew.

I planted the 11 trees in small plastic bags. I put soil and compost inside the small black bags, and placed them under the shade of a tree for 2-3 years to grow. I gave them water and took care of them, even though I didn't have experience, I dug 11 holes to plant the trees. I planted them too close together, so when they grew the branches touched each other.

After my wife died, I traveled to so many places and saw many people doing tree grafting. I watched and learned how to graft by watching other people do it. I eventually did the same for my plants. Through tree grafting, I was able to grow 80 lemon trees. All these trees, especially lemon, are from grafting. I used to have more trees, but 20 trees were destroyed when the government expanded the road.

 "I want to build a garden around this land. Gardens need to be cared for. They need water, and medicine, everything. I want to make this place a garden. That's why I'm doing this."

 

There was no system that allowed my son to stay home and work in Takure, because there were no jobs available. Like the heavy rains that wash away everything in its path, my wife died, and I was left alone. I was left having to pay back 14 lakh rupees in loans, which I had spent on my wife's medical treatment. And even after she died, I spent so much money on her death ceremony and funeral.

Because of the need to pay back these loans, there was no way for my son to stay home. My son, when he comes to stay, is more like a guest. Not out of his own interest, but because he is obligated to work.

Throughout all this, I had wanted to build my house. I have so many plans to work on my land. I have a problem where there is not enough water. I want to make the land level and build a dam to store water. I already have a small pond. I want to plant different types of fruits and vegetables, like onion and garlic. Anything can grow in this soil, on this land. If there are problems with starvation for 2 months, we will survive because I have grown so much food, like yams and sweet potatoes. I planted all different types of wild yams and sweet potatoes all over this place.

 

Q: What are your dreams and vision for your land for the next 50 years?

A: In my view, I want to make it a better place. I've only done experiments on this land, and haven't really benefitted from what I grew until now. Now I've seen I can do what I want to do. My son and grandsons, are all involved with the agriculture on this farm. Everyone's heart is in this work and land. Right now, why go to America or the UK or Korea or different countries? If we can plant trees and fruits here, we will have flowers, and now I have bees. We can create benefits from all these things.

Nowadays, there are roads and markets everywhere. You can use vegetables for eating, you can sell them in the market, and you can send them far away to be sold. Onions, garlic, and green vegetables are essential. We need them every day, morning and evening. If you have extra vegetables, you can sell them, and then you don't have to buy it. I will manage the problem of water, and I will grow different kinds of fruits and vegetables. It is hard work doing agriculture, but there is no other option. This is what I want to spend my time doing, putting all my energy on this land. Not just for myself, but for my grandson. My grandson has a good education, and it is good for him to do this work because he has knowledge. That is why our dream is to manage this place, and to have guests like you from far away. I have experience, I just don't have enough resources or economic power. I have less income and more expenses.

"Right now, why go to America or the UK or Korea or different countries? If we can plant trees and fruits here, we will have flowers, and now I have bees. We can create benefits from all these things."

If we look, there is nothing to do. But if we just do, we find what there is to do. We have so many bamboo trees, so we can make so many things from them, but we need the skills to learn how to make these things. What we need is skills. How to plant trees, how many trees need to be planted – all these things need to be learned.

I have 6 children/grandchildren. All of them are going to school, being part of society, attending ceremonies and inviting everyone. If for 2-3 years, you are all coming and going from this place, you'll have the opportunity to see these changes. If one person died, we don't have to stop doing things, because dying is a natural part of life. In 2-3 years, I want to decorate this place like a bride on her wedding day. I may die, and I will not be able to do this, but my son and grandson will be able to continue this work.

Q: There is a large tree behind your house and there are many pigeons living in it. Have you built these homes in the tree for the birds?

A: Before the earthquake we had a two story building here, and the 2nd floor was a just for pigeons. There were 500-600 pigeons there. I don't keep pigeons, but I give them grains. Because of the earthquake our home was destroyed. After that, there was such a horrible smell. We realized it was the smell of pigeon poop. 500-600 pigeons produced 80 sacks of poop for compost and I collected all of this.

"If we have to climb up, then we will also have to climb down – there is always both happiness and sadness. We have laughs and tears, life is like this. Even if you feel right now everything is okay, maybe it won't be later."

We dug a hole under the lemon tree and put all the pigeon poop there and covered it. You can see the lemon tree is still flowering and giving fruit. After that, the pigeons were still living in the damaged house. We didn't have any space for them to live. Just like human beings, who also didn't have anywhere to live after the earthquake. But still they would come at night and live there. We believe that 50-60 pigeons were eaten by cats.

For agriculture, when it comes to rice, millet, wheat, corn, black beans and other different kinds of beans, you will not understand if I tell you all the different things I know about these crops. I am the child who did so much agriculture and still I am doing. Now I have so many hardships because of my wife. I have experienced so much pain because of my wife. I was not even 50 years old when she died. It is not worth it to love someone who has died, but it is worth it to love those who are living, that is why I love my children. I get so much happiness and so much sadness from everything I've experienced in my life.

I traveled so much. If we talk about India, I went to Calcutta, New Delhi, and many other cities in India. I also went to West Pakistan. In my country, I went to Rolpa, Dolpa, and Gorkha. I have so many experiences through traveling. Time did not give me the chance to do everything. I am not hopeless, nor am I overconfident. Everything is good with me. I am okay. I am not jealous that other people are earning more money. If anyone says anything, it doesn't make me feel bad. If time favors me, I am going to be able to do so much. We have to travel to different places inside and outside our own countries. And if you will come here sometimes, you will see all the changes that I want to do to this land.

I have planted 150 Lapsi trees around here and I have cut some of them for wood. I have also planted 50 chestnut trees, one variety that you can open with your teeth and the other you have to crush with stone. Now they are bearing fruit. We came to this land just 30-35 years ago.

"You ask, I will answer. Or I will just speak alone like a crazy person."

If we have to climb up, then we will also have to climb down – there is always both happiness and sadness. We have laughs and tears, life is like this. Even if you feel right now everything is okay, maybe it won't be later. Time is powerful, and we have to move according to time. We cannot say, "No I can't," due to the power of time.

To donate to our agriculture program click here

To learn more about Conscious Impact visit: www.consciousimpact.org

Interview by: Jose Welhan and Bryce Tanner

Edited by: Bryce Tanner

Photography: Johanth H. Lee

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Inspiration Through Connection: Renee's Story

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Inspiration Through Connection: Renee's Story

My arrival to Conscious Impact was on a whim, but my arrival to Nepal was not. I had been planning to come to Nepal for over a year, with a desire to further my passion for the environment and in organic farming by volunteering. Many of my closest friends were caught in the 2015 earthquake and were lucky to survive without injury. Through their experience, not only of the earthquake but of the incredible time they had exploring this country beforehand, I was inspired early on to come to the mountains.

"I was inspired early on to come to the mountains."

I started my journey by attending a two week Permaculture Design Course (PDC) at Hasera Farm outside Kathmandu. I attended the course to gain more knowledge before volunteering and to learn about Nepali culture and family life through a homestay.  After this, I purposely had no plans. And lucky I did not, because there I met three members from Conscious Impact, including Narayan Mama, one of the local Nepali staff. By the end of the course I decided “Sure, why not?”, and followed them back to Takure to see what kind of work they were doing.

It was clear to me after only a few days I was not ready to leave the Conscious Impact Camp anytime soon. Our Nepali staff are so integrated into the projects, and actively participate in decision making. One of the first projects I worked on was helping create an Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) survey. The survey intended to continue discussions with the local community to ascertain existing strengths in order to create connections for new opportunities. At home in Australia, I have always been interested in indigenous issues and know the difficulties of fast paced, disconnected development models. I connect strongly with Conscious Impact's long-term, community focused, and driven style of development.

These days I am heavily involved in the Agriculture Team. Among other projects, I am most passionate about the local run coffee co-op we are helping to establish in Takure. I am interested in reforestry and land regeneration, which is a very big and concerning issue in Nepal. This project highlighted to me the complexities of trying to regenerate the land while creating sustainable livlihoods for the local community at the same time. The co-op model will provide farmers with an alternative, long term and stable source of income, while reforesting the land at the same time.


"I am grateful every day for each person here, Nepali and foreigner, who holds space for me."


This work is often difficult and challenging, but living in community gives us all the much needed support to stay balanced when living and working rurally in a foreign country. I have felt my heart open so much, less focused on the “I” and more on the “We”. From daily yoga practice, to sharing chores, to gratitude reflection before dinner, every act is done with intention, and as a reflection of our collective gratitude for this space and for each other. I am grateful every day for each person here, Nepali and foreigner, who holds space for me.

To continue support my work with Conscious Impact please click HERE

To learn more: www.consciousimpact.org

www.facebook.com/consciousimpact

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Meet Durga: A Woman Farmer in Takure

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Meet Durga: A Woman Farmer in Takure


A note from the interview: I had misconceptions of the difficulty a female farmer in Takure faces every day. I had no idea the daily struggle that Durga Koirala endures because it was always hidden behind her beautiful smile. When we interviewed Durga her eldest daughter had just been married and subsequently moved away from the village. This was weighing on Durga deeply. Because of the emotions that were connected to these questions, we chose not to ask further details on challenging subjects. As a widowed mother, Durga is responsible for bearing the weight of farming and raising her 6 children. Her youngest son attends boarding school and lives with his uncle, while the rest of her daughters help with farming while trying to attend classes. These children respect and adore their mother whole heartedly, she means everything to them, and it is obvious in the ways they help her and care for her. This family has constantly shown adversity in difficult times and I admire their continuous courage. I hope that next season we can continue to help her family though our agriculture’s coffee program. For every dollar donated, one tree is planted, but it also means so much more. The money raised will continue to support families like Durga’s in creating sustainable long-term job opportunities. I hope to continue this interview at a later time, as for now, here is a glimpse into the life of a female farmer in Takure. I hope that by reading this interview you see the connection between mothers around the world. Durga, just as a mother in your home country, hopes to raise empowered, smart, and healthy children. Sincerely, Bryce Tanner

Learn more and support Takure's farmers HERE


Durga stands in her field with two of her young daughters. 

Durga stands in her field with two of her young daughters. 

Q: What is your name, where do you live, and what do you do for a living?

A: My name is Durga Koirala. I live in Takure with 5 family members, including myself. Two others are in Kathmandu and another lives in my uncle’s house. Sometimes they come home, but not often.  The five of us stay here to do all the household work. I have one son, one daughter who is already married. Now five left waiting to be married.

Q: What does it mean to be a female farmer in Nepal? What do you like the most? What is challenging?

A: It is hard. I am getting a little help, which helps pay the school fees for my children. People ask me how I’m doing, all these things. Before they said they would provide a job for one of my daughters, but now they are saying they won’t. My other daughter says it is not possible to work in Takure. She will only find work in Kathmandu. Who will help her find a job or a place to stay?

My son still has to study. I provide some education to my daughters, but I have to spend money on my son’s education. He is small.

Q: Is farming sufficient to provide your family with food for the whole year?

A: No. Sometimes we have to buy food. Nearly half of what we eat we have to buy. This year we had enough corn to feed our buffalos, but not our family. We are not able to take care of all of the buffalo, and have to sell one. We are not able to get sufficient production from our farm because of problems with monkeys and insects.

We don’t have a sufficient water supply for our fields and for our crops. This year we planted corn in the month of Jestha (Nepali month). We were not able to plant millet and that is why we don’t have sufficient food from farming.

I have one coffee tree. It already has some fruit. Last year I didn’t pick any of the fruit because I was busy building my house. This year I will harvest it. Before last year I was able to earn 700 NPR (~7 USD) from the coffee tree. After my husband died, I planted this orange tree and now it is bearing fruits.

 

"My other daughter says it is not possible to work in Takure. She will only find work in Kathmandu. Who will help her find a job or place to stay?"

Q: Does you have access to enough water for your plants?

A: No. Because of the water problem, I have so many difficulties. People fight for water from the tap.

Q: Did you grow up farming? What is your favorite memory of farming as a child?

A: I didn’t work during my childhood. After I was married, every year I gave birth to a new child. My husband is the one that used to work in the fields. Before he died, he did all the farming, grew all the millet, and took care of all the animals. Now that he is gone, I have to do it. But even these days, I have my daughters to do a lot of this work as well. I have to take care of the house, and all other household chores. When it is necessary for me, I will leave the house and go run errands. For the government funding, I recently left to go receive it in the city.

Not only now, but I’ve had so much suffering and hardship during my childhood.  

"If we have access to a water source, I can work hard and grow more."

Q: What do you grow on your farm?

A: I grow greens, onions, cabbage, and peas, but there is no water. You can see I planted onions, but there is no water for them. If we have water then we can grow a little bit more. If we have access to a water source, I can work hard and grow more.

Q: How much time a week or a day do you spend collecting fodder for the animals?

 A: It takes 2-3 hours to go down to the field every day.

My daughters usually go to cut grass, and most of the time I am at home. When my daughters are busy with their studies, I do the work. One of my daughters is in Nawalpur right now for her studies. She only studies in the morning and returns home after lunch.

Q: What do your children do in the farm?

A: They do everything. Digging corn and taking care of the fields.

Q: What hopes do you have for your daughters? What do you see for them in their future?

A: My only wish is for them to find jobs.

 


To learn more about our coffee program or support the farmers of Takure,

CLICK HERE

Interview: Bryce Tanner and Sunita Pandey

Photography: Jonathan H. Lee


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Meet Shyam: A Coffee Farmer from Nepal

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Meet Shyam: A Coffee Farmer from Nepal

Shyam Katuwal owns and operates an organic coffee nursery in Takure. Over the last year, he has shared his experiences with Conscious Impact so that we can help connect potential coffee farmers from Takure and Bimire with a local cooperative. He is truly an inspiration. 

Q: Why did you start growing organic coffee?

A: I have found inspiration from within myself grow coffee. For me, coffee farming is more important than life itself. I started growing coffee in the year 2043 B.S. (1986).

Growing coffee is important for the bright future of children. It is good for our health to drink coffee. For families, it can be become a good source of income. From the very beginning, I have felt that coffee farming is good which is why I decided to do it. Now I am so happy and proud of myself. My sons and I have registered the name of a coffee cooperative under the name Surjya Coffee Cooperative.

Shyam in his garden.

Shyam in his garden.

A young coffee tree with plenty of compost will grow be strong and produce plenty of income-generating fruit.

A young coffee tree with plenty of compost will grow be strong and produce plenty of income-generating fruit.

After the registration, I now have different NGOs (non-government organizations) connecting with me. If I was only growing corn or millet no one would want to work with me. Because of coffee, Conscious Impact has also come, and I feel so happy for this to happen.

 

Q: How has the community grown from having coffee?

"The journey of coffee is longer than that of us human beings. "

A: Now I am providing training for farmers on how to dig holes to plant coffee trees. With the help of trainings, coffee farming will be able to expand. But right now, we are unable to supply as much coffee as being demanded by the market.

Coffee farming is so good. It is like farming for dollars. Planting trees are beneficial for our health long-term. Even if we don’t have food to eat, even if we just sit in the garden drinking water, coffee is good for us. Gardens are good for the environment because plants give us oxygen to breathe.

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Shelled coffee, drying on racks.

Shelled coffee, drying on racks.

Shyam sharing the coffee production process with John.

Shyam sharing the coffee production process with John.

 

Q: Tell us a little bit about your farm, and what coffee has done for your farm because we like your organic style and sister planting, which has led to the creation of a beautiful farm environment:

A: Rice and millet farming is not sufficient to generate enough income. Our goal is to begin three-story farming: with a large tree creating shade as it grows over a coffee tree, and then a low growing plant below that; such as ginger or turmeric. Though land size never changes, the number of people we have to feed only continues to grow. By farming in this way we have enough food to feed everyone, and future generations will have a good source of income. Millet and rice is not sufficient, so this is the best way of generating income and feeding people.

Shyam showing off his turmeric, a great low story plant.

Shyam showing off his turmeric, a great low story plant.

Beautiful tumeric.

Beautiful tumeric.


"Rice and millet farming is not sufficient to generate enough income... Though land size never changes, the number of people we have to feed only continues to grow. By farming in this way we have enough food to feed everyone, and future generations will have a good source of income."


Until now I haven’t received any donations. I have been coffee farming by myself. I am so happy that you are all coming here and doing this interview with me, helping to promote my hard work. Coffee is life. We have to go out and cover these naked hills with coffee plants. Since you have coffee saplings, you must plant everywhere, to make everything green again. Whatever help you need, I will be here to support you. Whether it is with trainings or helping speak to people.

There are so many important things that we still have to learn about coffee farming.

Over the last two decades, 25% of Nepal's land has been deforested which contributes to increased landslides, loss of biodiversity, and economic downfall.

Over the last two decades, 25% of Nepal's land has been deforested which contributes to increased landslides, loss of biodiversity, and economic downfall.

Shyam and Narayan. Two friends and farmers ready to reforest their land.

Shyam and Narayan. Two friends and farmers ready to reforest their land.

Coffee begins to give fruit after its 3rd year.

Coffee begins to give fruit after its 3rd year.

"Coffee is life. We have to go out and cover these naked hills with coffee plants."

We have already been certified internationally as organic coffee farmers. We collected soil for 3 years and tested it for being organic or not and for use of pesticides. After going through all those requirements, we were finally certified as organic. We have the certificate, and will eat organic vegetables. We are not like broiler chickens, we will make our whole lives organic and healthy.

We are spreading the message of organic farming in our villages. Some people understand and some people don’t. People do not think for themselves, and so they don’t understand the importance of organic farming and why it is good for everyone and the environment. I am working so hard to convince people that we are capable of doing good, instead of bad.

Shyam speaking to other farmers about the benefits of growing coffee organically.

Shyam speaking to other farmers about the benefits of growing coffee organically.

Stronger together!

Stronger together!


"We are spreading the message of organic farming in our villages. Some people understand and some people don’t."


I started a coffee nursery in the year 2043 B.S. (1986). Now I am providing coffee trees to my friends and selling them for 15 rupees each. Since 2063 B.S. (2006), I have continually worked in the nursery and spread knowledge to my friends on how to grow coffee.

I’m so happy that you came here to see all of my work from the very beginning. I feel so lucky. By unveiling my work, I am able to connect and share my story with different foreigners, donors, or organizations. This has created a good environment and strong network for me. After connecting with you [Conscious Impact], I feel I like my knowledge has increased from what it was before.

 

Q: How has starting his own coffee cooperative changed the way he is farming coffee?

A: From the very start at the beginning, we had so much difficulty selling the coffee because there was no cooperative. We first supplied coffee to Buddha Coffee Mill. I started I realized it was necessary to find constant and stable suppliers who would buy coffee. Constantly having to go to different places and people was not sustainable. After that we made 8 primary coffee cooperative groups.

Now we are established and are able to supply all our coffee to this processing center in Sukute. They collect all the coffee there, divide the organic from the inorganic, and all the organic coffee is shipped to Korea and elsewhere. In this way, we directly transport our coffee to Sukute as we grow it.

Shyam talking about the benefits of growing coffee with other plants.

Shyam talking about the benefits of growing coffee with other plants.

Compost tea at Shyam's farm!

Compost tea at Shyam's farm!

By connecting to this district coffee cooperative, we can create unity among us which can be hard and difficult to do. If we support each other, we can raise each other up. Some people still do not understand why I plant coffee trees. If we cover all these hills with coffee plants, we can look at it and know it is for the benefit of the Nepalese people. It is not for foreigners. Our aim is to raise awareness among people and help them to do something by themselves. Coffee is so important.

"One person cannot do anything on their own. If we help each other, we are able to raise each other up."

 

One person cannot do anything on their own. If we help each other, we are able to raise each other up. If Conscious Impact is here to help, then we are more than willing to receive it. Whether it is with our coffee or with a nursery, we are here to receive and share knowledge. We as farmers are a marginalized group. I am trying by myself to do this work, but with more energy from others, we’ll be inspired to do more.

For us, coffee is our life cycle. The journey of coffee is longer than that of us human beings. People are not able to understand coffee. Our coffee is organic Arabica, and comes all the way from the Americas. The name Arabica is famous in this way.

I want to thank you again; I am able to sit here and give this interview and not worry about time. There is no value of time because the life cycle is constantly going on.

Narayan, Greg, and Shyam talking coffee in the Conscious Impact greenhouse.

Narayan, Greg, and Shyam talking coffee in the Conscious Impact greenhouse.

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Training Takure in Coffee Management

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Training Takure in Coffee Management

Our first coffe tree is being planted!

Our first coffe tree is being planted!

Volunteers Meryl and Jatesh measure 6 kg of humanure per tree!

Volunteers Meryl and Jatesh measure 6 kg of humanure per tree!

Farmers sit in front of the Bimire School as we plant our first coffee tree!

Farmers sit in front of the Bimire School as we plant our first coffee tree!

Greg is teaching our hardworking volunteers the importance of prepping holes for each coffee tree!

Greg is teaching our hardworking volunteers the importance of prepping holes for each coffee tree!

Farmers from Bimire and Takure are ready to plant coffee! Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this project!

Farmers from Bimire and Takure are ready to plant coffee! Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this project!

Community Training

On May 5th and 6th Conscious Impact, in partnership with a Nepali coffee cooperative held two local coffee trainings. One in the community of Bimire and another in Takure. We were grateful to host Ehak Prashad Bykurel from the neighboring village of Sukute to train our community. Ehak works at the processing and distribution center and trains farmers to be successful in creating their own branch of the coffee cooperative. Each farmer was trained in the history of coffee, where and what to plant with coffee, how to prepare the soil, how to take care of the tree, benefits of organic trees, and benefits of the co-op model. We will be helping the community organize into two groups of 25- 30 farmers.

As a part of the training we planted our first 10 coffee trees. These are the first 10 trees of our 10,000 tree initiative. Each tree represents so much more than a tree, they will help to reforest these mid hills in the Himalayas, help mitigate climate change by sequestering carbon, and help support livelihood security by providing cash crops and making agriculture a viable way of life. We’re 10 down and 9,990 to go! We’re so excited to plant all of these trees over the next year. Learn more HERE

In the next few weeks, as monsoon rains continue to increase, we will be distributing trees to the farmers in our community. Each farmer will receive the amount of trees for the holes they have prepared. Most farmers have asked to purchase between 50 and 500 trees. It will take 3 years for the trees to reach maturity and begin producing fruit.

Over the next few weeks we will begin planting new coffee seeds for next years distribution. We are also continuously planting other varieties of tree to be planted alongside coffee including neem, ippl ippl, jack fruit and other income generating trees.

Camp Training

On May 7th we held a special training for our volunteers. Each volunteer was taught how to properly dig and prepare a hole for coffee. Each hole is prepared with a 50 cm radius and depth. The top soil is separated and each pile of soil is mixed with 3kg of compost. Our tree compost is made specifically from our composting latrines. This means that every volunteer who has pooped in our latrines is contributing to the health and longevity of each tree planted at camp!

We will spend the rest of this week digging and preparing holes!

Are you interested in supporting our 10,000 tree initiative? Learn more, or donate Here! Thank you!

Written By: Bryce G. Tanner

Photography: Rebeca Segal / George Blower

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Sexual Reproductive Health Class

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Sexual Reproductive Health Class

On Friday April 28th, Conscious Impact’s Education Team held another meeting of the Girls’ Empowerment Program at Nawalpur Secondary School. The program has reconvened with the start of the Nepali school year.

We hadn’t been able to meet for almost 4 weeks as school was out on holiday, which gave the team ample time to plan for this extra informative session. The meeting focused on knowledge surrounding sexual reproductive health — reproductive organs, sexual health, and the science behind menstruation. The girls who participated in the meeting ranged from the ages of 12 to 17. Even though visiting NGOs had previously done presentations on the same subject at the school, they did not describe in detail the scientific processes behind sexual intercourse or menstruation.

The session started by asking the girls what they knew about their bodies, how they managed their periods, and misconceptions regarding why menstruation happens in our bodies. The girls seemed a bit shy at first, but the reality was they actually knew so little about their internal anatomy. It was intensely rewarding to have the girls slowly become more inquisitive and engaged as they began to ask questions, and gave input about what they thought was happening when they experienced their cycles each month.

We were amazingly lucky to have access to educational materials (in Nepali!) provided by Days for Girls Nepal, an international NGO that focuses on providing sexual reproductive health education and menstruation hygiene materials, such as eco-pads, to women around the world.

We ended the meeting by having the girls chant in a circle, “I love my body,” in Nepali and cheer as we celebrated the beauty and power of ourselves as women.

The team is excited to continue meeting as many times as possible until the end of the season.

Written By: Alyson Segala / Alysonnoele.com

Photography: Johathan H. Lee

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10 Days in Takure

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10 Days in Takure

"I've discovered a small part of the country, I’ve met amazing Nepalese people who I’ve worked and celebrated a wedding with, and I have been impacted: not just by the majestic mountains and the exceptional food, but by a project which has shown me how it really is possible to make a difference and improve the world if one has a purpose and determination, as well as humility to achieve their goals.

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Project Update: April 25th, 2017

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Project Update: April 25th, 2017

"Today we stand with Nepal in remembering the 2 year anniversary of the devastating earthquake. Two years ago, the community of Takure was decimated by a 7.8 earthquake, destroying almost every home. Today, we remember the lives lost, the homes destroyed, and acknowledge the bravery and resilience of our Nepali community. To rebuild after tragedy is to emit great courage. every day we admire and respect the community of Takure for standing together with us and rebuilding their homes." -Conscious Impact

 

Housing and Village Reconstruction

On the 1st of April 2017, the government of Nepal approved CSEBs (Compressed Stabilized Earth Blocks) and many other sustainable building solutions for earthquake reconstruction in Nepal. Families are now able to begin rebuilding with our bricks! Since the approval, we have begun construction on 5 homes in Takure and the surrounding community, while many more are in the design phase. Since the beginning of 2017 we have moved over 30,000 bricks from the training center to homes and projects around our community.

Community Center

The brick walls at the community center are complete and awaiting plaster. The roofing is to be installed this week and will be the final step in completing the structure.

Women’s Cooperative

The Women’s cooperative building is complete. The final coats of plaster have been applied, the inside building is painted, and the roof is installed. In the next few weeks, final details will be installed, including lighting and electricity.  

The Everest House Children’s Home

The walls at the children’s home are nearly complete. After the columns are finished the slab will be poured and the roof will be installed.

Sunita Tamang’s Earthbag Home

The second coating of plaster has been applied to Sunita Tamang’s earthbag home and the roof is being installed this week. Next week we will begin applying the final two coats of plaster, pour the slab, and Sunita will move into her home!

Agriculture

Coffee Cooperative

This week Conscious Impact with host Mandu Thapa, a representative of the Sindhupalchok, Coffee Cooperative in Nepal. She will spend two days at camp training local community members in organic coffee farming. Once the training is complete, community members can officially join the cooperative and begin planting their trees.

Spring Fundriaser

This spring, Conscious Impact will be launching our “More Than a Tree” campaign. Funds will support the farmers of Takure in their coffee cooperative and continue our agriculture program.

Education Program

Our women's empowerment program administered a 70 question survey to a group of young women at Nawalpur secondary school. The survey is constructed to asses what it means to be a young girl in this village and how we can address needs in the future.

We have started a pen pal program between the Takure Primary School and a primary school in Kent, England. The goal is to engage students from Takure with others around the world. We have begun video messaging between the children. 

Camp Construction

At Camp we are building permanent composting toilets. Our team has built two new toilet chambers from our CSEBs and bamboo. The final structure will incorporate a wall made from bottle bricks. We are upcycling trash from past volunteers into our very own toilets!

Training Center

This month we hired our first full time female employee, Chul Kumari. We are so excited to have her joining our all Nepali team at the training center. In addition, we are continuing to employ five women part-time every month for soil sieving. 

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A Boonvillian in Nepal: John Paula's Story

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A Boonvillian in Nepal: John Paula's Story

As someone who loves to work outside and with their hands, the work at Conscious Impact was so fulfilling. I was fortunate to be around during the construction of the rammed earth walls of the women's co-op in Nawalpur under the instruction of talented builders.

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The Orphanage: Building a Home for Children in Need

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The Orphanage: Building a Home for Children in Need

The 2015 earthquake in Nepal left hundreds of thousands of families without homes, and powerfully transformed the lives of millions of people across the country – none more effected than the children who overnight lost their families and their communities. On April 25th, 2015 hundreds of children suddenly became “orphans,” a concept previously unfamiliar. Many new orphans were taken in by aunts, uncles, older siblings or the community at whole, but others were taken to the nearby towns and cities looking for homes.

In the months following the earthquake, eighteen of these children were brought to Mother Sister Nepal (MSN), a non-profit located in Nawalpur, the largest town near Takure. Mother Sister Nepal has worked in the region for more than 5 years providing services to local women and children and has gained the confidence of the community. Now, following the earthquake, MSN was given a new mission: caring for these 18 children.

For the last 2 years, the children have lived in a temporary space on rented land about 1 hour walk from the Conscious Impact camp in Barigaon VDC. There they receive food, comfortable beds, clothes and most importantly a new family. The children range from 3 years old to 15 years old, and most attend school during the day. In the mornings and evenings, they are cared for by 4 young women from the local town, as well as Mina Thapa and her husband Umesh Adhikari, the founders and directors of Mother Sister Nepal.

Now, it is time for a new home. The land agreement is over and Mother Sister Nepal needs a new place to house these 18 children permanently. Fortunately, the government has provided a beautiful piece of property near the school, and the community has already donated more than $10,000 towards the construction of a permanent building. With the additional support of the VITA Association in Switzerland, Mother Sister Nepal is ready to build!

So, what is Conscious Impact’s role? Since the beginning, CI has been deeply involved in the design, engineering and resource management for the project. Our wonderful architect Frederick Dolmans of GroundUP with the support of architects Satwika Taduri and Oliver Atwood designed a beautiful building to meet all of the needs of the children’s home. With 8 rooms, a library, 3 toilets and a kitchen/dining hall, the orphanage will be ready to house as many as 30 children by May 2017. The project construction is being managed by Conscious Impact engineer Mariana Jimenez and a team of masons from western Nepal. The construction will use more than 10,000 of our Compressed Stabilized Earth Blocks (CSEBs), made locally with sustainable materials.

Our hope is that this new orphanage will be a home to children in need for years to come, and will also represent one of the most beautiful and earthquake-safe structures in the region. If you would like to learn more about this project, get involved, or make a donation, please visit our website at www.consciousimpact.org or email us directly. Thank you to everyone that has helped make this project possible!


written by Orion Haas, co-founder

orionhaas.com • instagram • fb.com/orionhaas

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Conscious Impact's First Coffee Meeting

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Conscious Impact's First Coffee Meeting

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  On February 4th, 2017, over 50 members from the local community gathered in Conscious Impact’s garden. Woven mats lined the ground and cob benches. The coffee was poured and the doughnuts were frying. The moment was surreal. Countless hours of hard work from hundreds of volunteers had led up to this meeting. From the moment coffee was introduced, we were aware that there was an opportunity to provide sustainable income for the community through agriculture.

 In January of 2016 the coffee green house was built. A beautiful structure with 20 foot tall ceilings and welded steel beams. The entire structure was fundraised and built with love from our volunteers. What followed was months of coffee care. Volunteers and locals combined spent days filling bags of soil, each receiving a small coffee seed. Once the trees began to sprout volunteers squatted for hours weeding the thousands of bags. The bags were then moved and spaced out to where they will mature. Every week they are carefully watered.  After over a year of intense labor, here we were, with 8-10,000 coffee saplings and a community eager to invest.

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Our agriculture team was nervous, hosting a meeting in Nepal is not easy. You can’t send out an Evite to the whole community and expect them to show up. Instead we spent weeks walking door to door and speaking to community members about attending our meeting. Who decided to show up would be a direct reflection of how interested our community was in forming a cooperative. The worry faded as dozens of community members arrived with smiling faces.

What was surreal about this meeting was being surrounded by the people we idol the most. The farmers we meet with every week, community members who bring us their fresh produce, the families who have been farming this land for decades before we were here.  

We ended our meeting with those same smiling faces wandering through our greenhouse, admiring what has emerged of countless hours of hard work. Beautiful and healthy coffee saplings. Coffee and doughnuts were served with delight to all of our local friends and families. They politely told us the coffee was only good with nearly half a cup of sugar, the same way they drink their tea. They loved the doughnuts.

There’s a lot more work to come. We will continue to have meetings with the local community. We will provide them with proper training in tree maintenance. Our hope is to have a significant amount of our saplings planted by the coming monsoon season. That is going to be a lot of work for us and our community, but we are ready.

Thank you to all of our volunteers near and far who made this possible. To the dedicated people who provided our trees with water and sorted each coffee sapling to ensure it would survive. A special thank you to Elpis and Dora for supporting this project with your friends and family.  This meeting was successful because you were here. 

Written By: Bryce G. Tanner / Brycegtanner@gmail.com / Instagram: BryceGeralynn

Photography By: Jonathan H. Lee / Subtle Dream Photography / Instagram: Subtledream

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Cob Trash Bins in Nawalpur

Cob Trash Bins in Nawalpur

Ellen and Alyson came up to Nawalpur Secondary School to teach groups of students how to build with cob. After the environmental awareness workshop at the end of last month, they followed up the curriculum with helping the students to build trash bins on their campus out of cob. 

The intention of building with cob rather than buying a plastic trashcan, is that cob is a zero impact method of building that will not produce any more waste. The students had a fun, active day of mixing soil, sand, cow dung, clay, and straw to help construct bins that will hopefully reduce the amount of plastic and paper litter spread across their campus. 

The Power of a Journey

The Power of a Journey

"The powerhouse of positivity that is Conscious Impact - it’s volunteers, it’s employees, and its contributors - has shown to me that from negativity individuals from all cultures and walks of life have the ability to come together to create beauty and growth.

Takure School Field Trip

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Takure School Field Trip

We hosted the Takure Primary School children at camp for a on-site field trip. In the tipi, we gave the children a short orientation about the history of Conscious Impact, and the reasons we focus on sustainable living. After a short lunch, we showed the students our composting system, talked about the importance of organic agricultural practices, and taught them how to properly plant fruit trees.

We then took the students to the Training Center, and showed the students how we locally produce CSEBs. We explained the importance of ethically sourced building materials, and how we hope to support the community by continuing to make and sell affordable bricks. 

The children clearly enjoyed all the ways they got to participate in daily camp activities. Hopefully it won’t be the last time they come to learn and help out.

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