Clean up as Covid-19 self-help project

(Descripton of the project by Thinlas Chorol)

Ladakh is part of India. Normally the tourist reason starts from may to end of September. Because of Covid-19 the Indian government has cancelled all tourist Visas. We don’t know how long this situation will last. It is impossible to get income this years.

Since we can’t get clients this season, we decided to do some projects to keep ourselves busy and engaged in something productive which can provide an income. The first project is to clean up Nymaling, Thachungtse and the Khangytse base camp in July. We also would like to conduct an awareness campaign in each village from Chilling to Shang Sumdho. Markha valley is a very popular trekking route in Ladakh, and we have seen lots of garbage. We thought that it is very important to bring back all garbage to Leh for proper disposal.

The Ladakhi women’s Travel company is owned and operated only by women. Our goal right from the start was to encourage women to work in the tourism industry, especially trekking, which was, and still is, male dominated. Tourism is one of the main income for the Ladakh region.

Since 2009 we have trained more then 70 women to become a guide. The company has employed up to 29 women at the most. And this year we were supposed to employ 15 women. The company has organised well over 100 treks and tours in 2017, 2018 and 2019, and there have been several articles published about our work.

Most of the women working at LWTC are living in rented accommodations while living in Leh. Some of them are staying with family members. A few of them have young children. They are all depending on the annual tourist season.

Covid-19 self-help project with positive side effect

The women of the «Ladakh Women’s Travel Company» (LWTC) are holding their ground in trekking, a sector of tourism industry dominated by men. Their trekkings and tours are perfect examples for tourism in close touch with nature and culture. The women generate income for themselves, their families and many other people involved along the whole service chain. Because of Covid-19, this season 2020, there will not be any tourists and therefore, no income. With the clean-up project, they would like to compensate part of this loss and, at the same time, approach the problem of litter along a well known trekking route, a problem caused also, amongst other things, by ignorance and less sensitized trekking agencies.

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Salaries, transport, board and lodging

The clean-up will take at least 10 days and will occupy between 15 and 20 women. With the money, these women will get a salary equal to their salary as trekking guides. The money will also be used to finance transportation, board and lodging as well as pack animals. That way, also the families along the trekking route, which normally offer board and lodging for the trekking groups, will benefit. The social entrepreneur and founder of LWTC, Thinlas Chorol, guarantees the full use of the money to support the project mentioned above. She organizes and coordinates the self-help project on-site with all the people involved.

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