HimVikas designs and implements programs in the areas on education, livelihoods and sustainable living practices. We believe these are the three pillars that take concepts of sustainable development from textbooks and digital screens to the real world.
Over the years, we have learned the following things, which has guided our projects and activities:
- Building on what community/individual ‘have’ is more effective than addressing what they ‘lack’- HimVikas undertakes activities that build on community-based assets and resources. We use ‘appreciative enquiry’ as a methodology and while building upon existing skills of women, marginalized, small-scale producers, and rural artisans; link them directly to responsible consumerism through eco-tourism, community-supported agriculture, and experiential learning programs.
- Taking risk and doing it ourselves first and only then sharing best practices with others: We believe in constantly exploring, experimenting, and piloting small-scale, community-led innovations to facilitate out-of-the-box thinking and finding solutions within in our own neighborhoods first. When communities design, pilot, and find their own solution, they have better probability of influencing issues related to poverty, empowerment, and equity.
Kaaya Learning Centre
Kaaya is HimVikas’s flagship project and a physical space for experiencing and learning from the rural and ecological context through live projects. As a learning space, Kaaya campus itself is a work of art, rural architecture and a practice in sustainable living. It is a working platform for Interns, volunteers as well as development practitioners to put ideas of sustainability in practice.
Kaaya is embedded in rural ecology to understand and address the deep urban-rural disconnect. The activities at Kaaya help participants to appreciate and prepare for imminent sustainability crisis; offer shared vision and highlights trade-offs towards responsible consumerism and fair trade.
Kaaya Campus is used by visitors, residency participants, interns and as a camping site for outdoor learning for school children. (Read more in KAAYA tab)
Experiential Education Programs
Our educational programs are designed to create an eco-system for outdoor learning that brings one closer to wilderness, environment, local craft, agriculture, and recreational enterprises. In addition to a joyful learning environment for children and young adults to explore, investigate, and to get hands on using different methodologies, our standard programs for school and college children include:
- Journey of Seed: Children learn farming (planting of seasonal crop) with hands-on experience of ploughing with bullocks; land levelling; furrow making; making manure; seed treatment, and seed sowing.
- Journey of Milk: Children participate in in the dairy cycle; tasks include grass collection; cutting; mixing; and feeding and taking care of the cow apart from learning about the milk collection and distribution.
- Journey of Soil: Children practice pottery from local artisans; differentiate between soil types; understand its characteristics and use; clay modelling, and make products for immediate use in the camp activities.
The children not only experience rural and connect with nature but also learn to appreciate sharing with the rural society in the form of time, attention, resources and knowledge.
Eco-Restoration through Community Action
There is a sense of urgency that climate related disasters are already happening. As we are evolving as a natural learning ground, we can’t help but notice that the river streams are gradually drying up; land erosion looms large over sloping fields and the bio-diversity is being lost gradually.
HimVikas works with local schools, community, volunteers, and subject matter experts to draw up and roll out micro-plans for eco-restoration of water sources and landscapes. This effort aims to restore land and water resources and enhance the community’s livelihood through rural-urban interfaces.
Community Supported Agriculture (pilot stage)
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) brings together a community of individual growers and consumers who support each other, and share risks and benefits of food production. Our CSA program’s mission is to enhance the viability and profitability of small producers so that they can directly connect with urban consumers to get the price at which a consumer buys from a retail shop. This give and take relationship between the farmers and urban community provides interaction and cooperation. CSA makes way for a win-win situation because:
- Farmers know the needs of the community before sowing and get assured market;
- Consumers get fresh and organic produce directly from the farm;
- There is mutual commitment and understanding of each other’s requirements between farmers and consumers.
This program is in a pilot stage. A model organic farm is being developed as a demonstration for the packages of practice of crops that urban consumers need. Meanwhile, we are connecting urban consumers directly with local farmers for fair return on their produce through promoting agri-tourism with support from Kaaya.