Bringing awareness in our suitcases is as important as packing sunscreen… Conscious Impact supports cross-cultural dialogue and reconstruction projects in post-earthquake Nepal. Successful volunteer interactions are supported through positive, growth oriented and goal driven projects without eroding diversity of local culture or making things worse (causing political divisions, domestic confusion, inappropriate technologies and failed initiatives) than when you started. The story of Conscious Impact is founded in values that connect local community members to current information about the housing reconstruction, locally produced building materials, providing jobs for villagers and meeting families in their element; agriculture.
As global inequality reaches unacceptable thresholds, something bizarre happened over the last three decades to support making the world more equal: travel with the intention of volunteering became a market for well-intentioned nomads. The first group of supporters from Conscious Impact were ’trained’ over 6 years of working for another volunteer service based organization. Many of us met within our twenties and vowed to make the world a better place. A few of us were traveling in Nepal during the April 25, 2015 earthquake. When we became aware of the devastation we reached out to our community of nomads to start fundraising for earthquake relief. As we grew, we created the international (and locally registered) non-profit, Conscious Impact, to support long-term, sustainable housing rebuilding in Nepal.
Travel founded Conscious Impact. When we first arrived as tourists, we never could have imagined the broadly distributed destruction the earthquake left behind and committing the next two years of our lives to a country we barely knew. The weeks immediately following April 25th were met with national unity and a theme of support for affected villages unprecedented in Nepal’s tremendously unstable history. Youngsters from the Himalayan highlands made trips to Kathmandu hoping to get any form of support for their home villages: tarps, rice, dhal, blankets, whatever could help victims put together a temporary shelter and have something to eat as all reserve food was buried in rubble. We jumped on the back of trucks for these missions. Although our personal international development beliefs wanted more long-term projects, the aftermath of the earthquake provided a window into the Nepal that could be unified and supporting one another to recover. We began trekking, started internships with local earth construction companies, networking, attending UN Shelter Cluster meetings; anything we could do to wrap our heads around the increasingly complex post-earthquake landscape of Nepal. And most importantly, how do we fit into all of this in order to help?
During a rammed earth workshop in Dhulikhel, Nepal we met two young men from the village of Takure, Sindhupalchowk, Nepal. We told them we had $18K and volunteers who wanted to come to Nepal to support home reconstruction. We were actively engaged in searching for a community or a group of villages to work with. They were also looking for aid within their community and we followed them with a small team of volunteers to the beautiful hills of Takure.
The history created was a hypothesis that worked out way better than expected. Compressed Stabilized Earth Blocks were the gamble we made in post-earthquake, reconstruction Nepal. This method of brick production is vital to the identity of Conscious Impact. Volunteers work alongside local Nepalis at our training center to produce the very building materials that will support home construction from the dirt under your feet. We make between 500-600+ bricks per day with a team of 8-12 men and women from Takure village- working with as many volunteers that are able to help. We have stockpiled over 40,000 bricks (enough for 12 homes) and currently use the bricks for social projects: community center, women’s cooperative interior walls, and a local primary school. Volunteers are from all types of backgrounds and countries, since August 2015 we have hosted 350 volunteers from over 23 different nationalities.
The reason Conscious Impact is successful in providing a traveler a positive window into international development stems from the relationships we’ve been able to develop with our community members. We live in tents on a hillside in the Himalayas until the people we serve are living in homes. Our fundraised money comes from friends and families that love this story. There’s no space for fancy offices and high administration fees; simply- donations go to projects that support villagers. We do this because we love it and want to share it with others for nothing more than to say it’s possible. Our eventual goal is to evolve as our projects and communities ask more out of what this project can provide. Ask more out of what empowered local leadership and inspired community servants can do for themselves- Conscious Impact just provides inspiration for inclusive dialogue- locals make it happen.
If any of this resonates with any part of your psyche, physical body, heart, mind, soul- act. Act immediately because of how important this work is to our planet, society and longevity as a species. Empowering indigenous wisdom and earth honoring rebuilding principles is vital for our time on Earth. Conscious Impact accepts volunteers from Septemeber-June every year, we’re closed for the monsoon summer season in Nepal (but hope to develop programs in Latin/South America, West Africa, USA and more for those months). We host a yoga retreat in November that integrates Kharma yoga service with asana practice. You can come as a group on a 10-day program and combine travel to other parts of Nepal, India and Southeast Asia. Or, like most of us you can come for an open-ended, open heart experience and let fate determine how long you stay. How much you want to soak in the experience of something special, a rarity after having done this work for the better part of the last 10 years. Some special concoction of factors that has blessed us all since Conscious Impact began in Nepal. Whatever it is we all vow through our consistent 6 day work weeks to continue this movement. To support housing reconstruction, permaculture, coffee planting, equality, domestic safety for children and to believe that the slow method works. Most projects like this are planned so they can disperse their resources to a village in a timely manner. Conscious Impact is the opposite. We want to provide steady, supportive spaces that shifts development from the mind and planning every aspect of the future into a heart oriented space where what’s best for everyone can arise from the intuitive part of our best intentions. To continue to make bricks, provide local jobs and give the best advice to home rebuilders with a local material made by their families. To reforest these Himalayan hillsides with love, respect and fruit trees that we can eat from and share after a long days work together.