2017/07: Trudi Vetsch’s report on her trip

Suc­cess­ful sales during the 2016 sum­mer sea­son moti­va­ted the vil­la­ge women to crea­te new felt pro­ducts and to knit a selec­tion of socks and caps in the fol­lo­wing win­ter. On account of the low tem­pe­ra­tures, this year’s han­di­crafts work­shop orga­nis­ed by me took place in the old school buil­ding and las­ted seven days.

The women still need help when cut­ting out the lea­ther for the hut slip­pers. They are unac­custo­med to using scis­sors and a ruler. This is one of few jobs in which they still need inst­ruc­tion from me.

Working toge­ther with the women from the vil­la­ge requi­res a lot of per­se­ver­an­ce. It was unac­custo­med and exhaus­ting for me to have to work on my knees. Main­tai­ning an over­view over sheep-wool and lea­ther, fel­ted and knit­ted pro­ducts, tea cups and teapots was a chal­len­ge. The humour, enthu­si­asm and eager­ness of the women quick­ly let me for­get such chaotic con­di­ti­ons, however.

Last year the women used the school buil­ding as a place of work. Now, with the reo­pe­ning of the school, the buil­ding is now occu­pied by the pri­ma­ry school. On account of this, the women have made an app­li­ca­ti­on to the sta­te for a new han­di­crafts building.

Reo­pe­ning the vil­la­ge school
Thanks to the initia­ti­ve of the vil­la­gers in 2014, the pri­ma­ry school was reo­pe­ned again this spring. Up to then, the child­ren visi­ted the ele­men­ta­ry boar­ding school in Lings­hed. Nine child­ren of four to nine years of age can now attend their own school again in the village.

During my stay in Leh, I con­tac­ted the “Ladakh Eco­lo­gi­cal Deve­lop­ment Group” LEDeg. The LEDeg engi­neer respon­si­ble, Thin­ley Dor­je, show­ed Lob­zang Rinchen, the local on-site pro­ject lea­der, and me the demons­tra­ti­on object and the sup­plied us with valu­able infor­ma­ti­on. The LEDeg buil­ding in Leh is one of the most tra­di­ti­on-rich buil­dings and fea­tures solar architecture.

Go-ahead for an insu­la­ted school buil­ding and a han­di­crafts room
Ful­ly loa­ded with infor­ma­ti­on and the cer­tain­ty of having com­pe­tent, on-site pro­ject part­ners on board and after con­sul­ta­ti­on with the association’s exe­cu­ti­ve board, I secu­red the finan­cing of the ther­mal insulation.

The sta­te has employ­ed a ten-head Nepa­le­se buil­ding team that has been working in Ladakh for many years now. Engi­neer Thin­ley Dor­je is respon­si­ble for con­tact with the Nepa­le­se buil­ding foreman.

For the insu­la­ti­on of the roof, the vil­la­gers collec­ted straw in the near­by moun­ta­ins. The tra­di­tio­nal straw roof is not 100% water­pro­of and is the­re­fo­re cove­r­ed over with cor­ru­ga­ted iron sheets.

Adult edu­ca­ti­on — three new villages
The EAL pro­ject has gene­ra­ted inte­rest in the neigh­bou­ring vil­la­ges. The asso­cia­ti­on has sup­por­ted the neigh­bou­ring vil­la­ges Ski­um­pa­ta, Gom­ga and Nya­raks sin­ce June 2017. The­se vil­la­ges are only acces­si­ble from Yul­chung on foot in three hours.

Stu­dent Lob­zang Pal­zom tea­ches the women from Ski­um­pa­ta (2nd. from the right).

On site, during mee­tings with the women, I cla­ri­fied their needs and con­se­quent­ly attai­ned finan­ci­al appro­val for a tea­cher and the tea­ching mate­ri­als necessary.

In the three vil­la­ges, a total of 19 women attend schoo­ling. Inte­rest varies from vil­la­ge to vil­la­ge. In Nya­raks the women would like to learn English, as, in the win­ter, trek­king groups pass by on the fro­zen river (Cha­dar-Trek). In Ski­um­pa­ta and Gom­ga the women would, above all, like to learn to read and wri­te the ladakh “Bothi” language.

To the pic­tu­re gallery