Village Ways launched its first trips to India in 2006, having built guesthouses in the beautiful villages of Binsar in the Himalayas. We talk to some of our team about how the 10 years have helped their communities.
"In 2004 Village Ways started working in our village, Dalar, in the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary. I had taken primary and junior primary education from our village and due to the lack of school and colleges I had to go to Naintal around 100km from Almora for further studies. I joined Village Ways from the beginning as a guide which helped me a lot not only developing myself but also financially which had given a great support for my higher education expenses. After college I had also done B.Ed from Srinagar, Kashmir. I had a keen interest in bird watching and guiding. Village Ways and the Uttarakhand Forest Department had given us many training sessions to improve our skills in guiding. As a freelance guide I have worked in many areas in Binsar. Due to my progress as a naturalist, from September 2014 Village Ways has given me further opportunities and now I am working as a trainer for Village Ways, travelling all over India. I am very happy and feel proud to share my keen interest in wildlife with those whom I train.
The villagers are still moving away from the villages in Binsar. In my village now only 8 families are living in present, mainly through lack of income sources, education and medical facilities. Sources of income are very limited, and the children do not have proper school near the village. Parents take them to the town for their proper education. As they feel that education can help them to make their future brighter. The elderly people need medical facilities which are not available in villages.
I still remember that 20 years ago the villagers continued to have a keen interest in farming and agriculture and they had good crops for whole year but now due to wild animals they cannot protect the farms, and now the fields are often barren. Only in front of the houses they grow some crops and vegetables, which they can protect from wildlife.
Due to the Village Ways project the local people have been supported and provided with some employment within the village. I wish and pray that this project grows and succeeds so that the people get some income for their livelihood and can continue to live in these beautiful places."
"I heartily congratulate the Village Ways family for completing 10 years. I joined Village Ways in May 2006, and at that time I knew nothing about Village Ways, as it was not like a common tourism company nor like any of the NGOs working in the tourism sector in our area.
I have learned a lot working with Village Ways - for example, how to work with the village committees , awareness of our surroundings and wildlife conservation. I have also learned about the role and responsibility of nature guides with the guests and in the villages, too. Thanks to this work, we have had the opportunity of learning other languages like English and French, and with the expansion and growth of Village Ways we have got to know places not only in Binsar, Uttarakhand but also in different states of India, such Rajasthan, Karnataka, and Kerala.
I also experienced that the kind of work Village Ways is doing on the ground in rural areas no other government or non government project is doing. Village Ways has also worked with 100% sincerity and honesty with full dedication towards its role and responsibility towards villagers.
I and the local people have also learned so much about the hospitality business.
My best wishes to the Village Ways family for their future success."
Assistant coordinator, Binsar
"Village Ways is the best kind of work for us, as it is a part time job. My main work is to take care of our fields, cattle and other farming work in the village. I joined Village Ways in 2007, and at that time I did not know anything about guiding but Village Ways organised everything, training on wildlife, flora and fauna, birds and how to take care of the guest during the walks. In starting we knew only our language Hindi and now all our guides know English and French conversational language. Village Ways constantly helps and supports us to improve our skills.
I still remember that a few years back I was a guide of our guests Mr and Mrs. Pitter. Mrs. Pitter was very interested in flora and fauna and especially butterflies. I was worried that I had no knowledge of butterflies and shared this with our office. Village Ways then organised the butterfly and reptile training and now Iknow about the many butterflies we can see in Binsar.
I thank Village Ways for all the support they had given to guides and villagers to work and gain income and knowledge together."
Guide, Gonap, Binsar
"In 2006 Village ways started working in Binsar. All five villages had formed committees in their villages. In each committee a president, vice president and secretary was appointed and the roles and responsibilities were also shared. Villagers and the committee members came together to build the guesthouses.
On 14-10-2006 we received our first guest in our Katdhara guest house. It was like a miracle for us, due to Village Ways, guests were coming and we as hosts were welcoming them.
In 2008 a special Village Ways day was celebrated, as Katdhara committee was rewarded for their best committee performance. Till today the committee works hard to deliver their best so that the guests enjoy the stay in their village.
A few years ago the committee shared Rs 76000 as a bonus within the members. The entire village had appreciated the effort and transparency. Those who were not interested in this project for the village, they wanted to be a part of the committee. Today the entire village has great respect for the work and the guests and want to give their best.
Due to the guest visits in our village we have gained so much - children have learned and try to speak in English, there is awareness of hygiene, behavior and respect and the whole community has gained confidence.
Today our village has great respect towards Village Ways, not only for having business but also to have gained positive relationship between the villagers and the whole team.
In these years Village Ways has not only sent guests but also tried to upgrade our skills by different trainings and exposures which had helped us in our everyday life..
On behalf of our Village and committee we heartily thank Village Ways for all the support."
Puran Singh Jina
Secretary of Katdhara committee and guide