There has always been a seed of desire to go out and do something beyond my western consumer lifestyle… just at the moment of desire to find the right opportunity the message and story of Conscious Impact came into my life. A dear friend and core member of the organization sparked inspiration through sharing her direct and continued experience with the work being done with the help of Conscious Impact in the village of Takure and surrounding towns. Passion flowed with every bit of information she shared. Seeing such positivity shining through the goal to overcome the negative impact of natural disasters drew me ever more toward the cause.
Seeing as I was in such close communication with this core member (living in the same sleepy town, working together at the same business) I was readily aware of the goings on - the projects, the volunteers, the community members, etc. Of the many projects underway I became most impassioned by the Women’s Co-op and Development Center: a community project that strives to empower the women of Nawalpur district while demonstrating new sustainable, earthquake resistant building techniques.
With this catalyzation of positive action I took the leap of faith… Never had I traveled so far out of my comfort zone - where the normalities of the western world would no longer be the reality. Prior to arriving, mental preparation for what was to come took place -trivial first world comforts and new cultural customs to consider were all on my mind. I came to find all of these mental preparations wholly unnecassary upon arrival to the terraced wonderland that camp has become. Finding tricks and ways to make the alternative living style ever more comfortable are always underway. Running water, easy access to boiling water for a hot bucket shower, community instruments, a wee library, hammocks, yoga space, and so much more lend to a space that flows with opportunities to nourish free time with much to do. Along with bits of comfort, the community itself is a melting pot that is ever overflowing with inspirational, talented, impassioned and caring humans. Each person and interaction make for a rich environment that is both relaxed and extremely structured… all with the additional bonus of the camp being well supplied with talented chefs - each meal is nourishing and SO delicious (nearly every meal being far better than any had in Kathmandu)!
As these very subtle anxieties of the previous unknowns laid to rest, I found myself immediately confronting the beautiful connection shared between C.I. and the surrounding communities. The day after arrival all volunteers gathered to participate in the blessing of the foundation for the Women’s Co-op and development center- where the president of the women’s microfinance group gave a small speech and vocal blessing, dozens of women acted out the physical blessing offerings, and volunteers followed suit. This surreal cultural experience ended with the placing of “tikka” on each and every present forehead, and a bit of dance and merriment
The following days offered yet another event that showed how deep the connections are between C.I. and their employees - A three day wedding festivity celebrating the marriage of Haribol, a Nepali employed at the Training Center. Seeing volunteers converse in Nepali, eat, dance, offer “puja”, and overall celebrate with locals was beautiful to witness and be a part of.
Once the celebrations came to a close work went underway in full force, and I finally got to plunge my hands into dirt and work on the project I came for, along with the many other exciting ongoing developments. As the days went by, the depths of passion, thought, and professionality in every project became apparent - from the talented and thorough work of the young and capable architects ensuring that each possible building will be structurally sound, to the impassioned agriculture team and their work to reforest the area by empowering local farmers to work together to start a coop of their own. With this wide array of inspiration, I came to find I was torn in my desires of involvement. In the month at camp I have had the amazing opportunity to be involved in each and every project (big or small) taking place within the community and within camp itself.
In the days of preparation to leave this magical place draw closer, the aspects of this organization resonate within are becoming ever more apparent. A community born out of a desire to draw positive energy from a horrific event is doing what it has set out to do… and more. The volunteers and employees of Conscious Impact take steps every day to propel the people of takure, nawalpur, and surrounding villages to rebuild not only their homes, but their lives in sustainable and positive ways. From the day of my arrival ‘til the day of departure (about 1.5 months) we’ve completed the walls of the Co-op, poured foundation and have made steady headway on a community center in Nawalpur, a second brick press arrived in the training center, an Elderly Person’s meeting center has been built to completion (the first C.I. Compressed stabilized Earth Brick building in Nawalpur), farmers from all over the valley have gathered at camp to discuss the beginnings of a coffee cooperative and the importance of reforestation, the opportunity to provide architectural plans for an orphanage to build with the bricks arose and is now underway, the very first earthbag home construction has begun,and environmental awareness programs are being carried out by the education programme in local schools, all while brick production continues to go strong each and every day!
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.
Written by Mackenzie Primack
Textile Artist and Volunteer, January - March 2017