COMMUNITY INITIATIVES

“The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.”

We never see rural communities as poor and deprived populations in need of our help. In fact, it is just the opposite. They are rich centres of traditional wisdom and cultural heritage that ought to be promoted and preserved. Ultimately, it is only when these communities and the environment around them flourish, that our existence will have meaning. It is with this mindset that the Geeli Mitti Foundation was set up, to cater to the constantly evolving needs of rural and urban communities, helping them improve quality of life, acquire new skills and convert their strengths into opportunities for livelihood and economic well-being.

Our Research Hub in the Naina Devi Bird Conservation Zone in the Nainital district of Uttarakhand is an experimental ground for innovations in ecological housing, waste management, and water systems. The best practices developed here are replicated across the country with the help of volunteers and partner organisations.

Focus Areas

<a href='#skill_development'>Skill Development</a>

Workshops & training programmes for youth & women

<a href="#education">Education</a>

Taking learning beyond the classroom

<a href="#health">Health</a>

Access to quality care for the disadvantaged

<a href="#community_tourism">Community Tourism</a>

A model for livelihood generation, cultural preservation & environmental protection.

<a href="#waste_management">Waste Management</a>

Our fight against plastic & non-biodegradable waste

<a href="#local_crafts">Local Crafts</a>

Reviving ancient & traditional arts

Our Impact

Some numbers to grab your attention!

We often wonder why this obsession with a number to prove ourselves? How does one quantify the millions of birds and bees whose homes are safe because of the trees we didn’t cut, the feeling of someone who has learnt a valuable new skill or the experience of living in a completely natural chemical-free home? Ultimately, the only thing that really counts is that we walk the talk, actively doing something about things we care about, no matter how big or small. That is enough to create a ripple effect that no number can ever capture or do justice to. But here’s us contradicting ourselves anyway, just to grab your attention with some numbers we added up with whatever we had on hand! 

Human lives impacted

4000+

Animal lives impacted

300+

Climate positive projects undertaken

40+

Find Yourself

What can be more satisfying and rewarding than selfless service? Come find out as a volunteer and dive straight into working on just about anything and everything!

Study tours for schools and colleges at Geeli Mitti offer a world of opportunity for creative expression and hands-on learning through community service projects.

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SKILL DEVELOPMENT

Workshops & training programmes for youth & women

Our skills training programmes enable youth and women to acquire new skills to enhance their earning and livelihood.

Skills Training: With a view to promote local production of handicrafts, we provide guidance and training in skills such as knitting, crochet, making dreamcatchers and Ringal crafts, and facilitate their sale in urban markets. We also purchased sewing machines and trained local women on how to up-cycle used cloth into carry bags.

Computer Centre: We have collaborated with the Art of Living Foundation to set up a computer training centre. The centre government certified computer courses as well as basic training to enable youth and women to carry out day to day jobs such as online banking, booking tickets, applying to universities and government schemes and filing grievances and complaints with the local administration.

EDUCATION

Taking learning beyond the classroom

The limitations of conventional education systems and the lure of modern urban lifestyles is pulling children farther away from nature and traditional practices. Geeli Mitti  organises creative workshops  and lectures on locally relevant topics to encourage children to ‘learn by doing’, and connect with nature and get to know their local culture and traditions.

Library: Geeli Mitti has set up a children’s library in a local government secondary school. Every second Saturday, a guest lecture cum workshop is organised on relevant topics such as making vegetable beds, composting, organic farming, building with mud etc.

Winter School: During the vacation months of winter, Geeli Mitti Farms opens its winter school to local children where a variety of skill-based workshops are held, ranging from English lessons, arts and crafts, farming and composting to waste management, bird-watching, climate change and ecological preservation, natural building and healthy cooking. 

HEALTH

Access to quality care for the disadvantaged

Access to quality healthcare to remote rural areas is a major concern. The inhabitants of remote villages of the Naina Devi Conservation Zone have to walk several kilometres to the road head and travel for an hour or more to reach the nearest medical facility in Nainital even for the most basic medical needs.

Medical Camps: We organise medical camps in villages, inviting qualified doctors and medical staff from reputed institutions to provide out-patient services to the local population. People in need of longer-term treatments, surgeries and follow ups are referred to Delhi and their treatments are facilitated by Geeli Mitti, in collaboration with local partners.

First Aid: Geeli Mitti has partnered with the Red Cross Society to set up first-aid centres in each village. The centres will be equipped with first aid kits containing all necessary apparatus to treat minor injuries and ailments. Additionally, Red Cross Society will provide first aid response training to selected personnel from each village to man the centres.

Indoor Air Pollution: Cooking in open indoor fires is a common practice in Kumaoni homes. The resultant fumes are a major cause for respiratory illness among the local population. Geeli Mitti is facilitating the construction of engineered Smokeless Mud Chulhas (cook-stoves) that eliminate indoor air pollution and also result in significant saving of firewood. A pilot has been completed in 5 facilities with a plan to scale up to 800+ families in the region.

COMMUNITY TOURISM

A model for livelihood generation, cultural preservation & environmental protection.

The growing popularity of Uttarakhand as a tourist destination has resulted in the unprecedented growth of a shabby concrete jungle, that is resulting in a growing problem of waste, and an undue strain on water and other precious natural resources. There is an urgent need for a different and sustainable tourism model that is able to preserve the delicate ecology of the hillscape while also benefiting the community at large.

PahaadStays: A Decentralised Community Tourism Model

Geeli Mitti has launched PahaadStays in collaboration with the Nainital District Administration to develop 5 ecotourism model villages within the Naina Devi Conservation Zone that can be eventually replicated across the State. The project has four key components:

  • Vintage Stays: development of traditional-style stone/mud-based rooms and independent cottages mud-based natural home-stays
  • Curated Experiences: Workshops in organic farming & composting, festivals, folk music & dance, traditional art & craft, Kumaoni food; forest walks, hikes on secluded nature trails, bird-watching & camping under the stars led by ‘Youth Champions’ mentored and trained by Geeli Mitti.
  • Village Development: A portion of the proceeds from the project are invested in (need-based) village development projects such as waste management, water harvesting, smokeless chulhas etc. that will impact the entire community.
  • Ecological Preservation: The flora and fauna of Nanda Devi Conservation Zone, hidden waterfalls and trekking routes are a major attraction for travellers . It is therefore in the best interest of the hosts to protect and preserve the environment around them. Additionally, the project promotes organic farming, waste management, village development projects and sensitisation of host families and youth champions, all of which will create a strong support system for ecological preservation.

WASTE MANAGEMENT

Our fight against plastic & non-biodegradable waste

Plastic and non-biodegradable waste is a growing problem in the region, particularly with the unprecedented rise in hotels and resorts and the increased availability and consumption of packaged foods.

Waste Management System: Geeli Mitti has set up a waste collection system in collaboration with neighbouring hotels to ensure that waste is segregated at source, and then collected and delivered to a recycling facility in Haldwani. The proceeds from the sale of waste is utilised to cover transport costs.

Clean-Up Drives: We organise drives from time to time with our volunteers and guests to pick up litter from forests and trails around our property, and send it for recycling.

LOCAL CRAFTS

Reviving ancient & traditional arts

Like in most communities around the world, the practice of local crafts is gradually diminishing due to a capitalism-driven society. In an effort to preserve local craft of weaving with ringal (a variety of Bamboo native to the Himalayan region), Geeli Mitti invites local artisans to conduct workshops with visitor groups from time-to-time as a means to showcase and share their skill, while also earning an additional source of income.

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