What is in a name- well actually everything? And that is what Himjoli is ( www.himjoli.org)– A friend in the land of snow and for the people of Uttarakhand.
Himjoli s a social venture company that works with producer groups based in Kumaon, a mountain region in the state of Uttarakhand. Thousands of rural farmers, artisans and women’s groups are involved in this enterprise that aims to transform lives through trade, not aid.
So about 2 months back when Pankaj Wadhwa the founder of Himjoli asked me join him and a group of friends on a tour Uttarakhand to see the work of Himjoli and its partners, I immediately said yes. The charm of the hills and a reason to escape Delhi plus see some wonderful organisation was too tempting an offer.
So this is how the trip began for me.
Incidentally I have a connection with Uttarakhand and with Kumaon hills in particular. My surname is Nainwal. Nainwals are Garhwali Brahmins ( I been told) but they are orginally from Kumaon.I guess about 200-300 years back my ancestors migrated from Kumaon to Garhwali hills to a village called Khanda Malla about 20kms off satpuli on the way to Pauri. And then about 80 years back some elders from our village migrated again to Shimla in search for job opportunities. Along with them my grandfather and his flock also moved to Shimla. My father was about 4-5 year old then and he also moved to Shimla along with his uncle. This must be in 1940s or so. My father got married in Shimla and so I was born and brought up in Shimla. So here I’m doing a Tour of Kumaon with Himjoli which primarily working to prevent migration from the hills whereas in some sense I’m a product of that migration that happened about 80 years back from here
What is amusing is that I see signs everywhere like nainwal dhabha to nainwal electronics to the name of a village called “nainiwal check”. It’s really surreal…… and I wonder what would have happened if our elders never moved from Kumaon.
Okay, coming back to the trip. Himjoli had put quite a nice itenary for us. On the list was a rual BPO (B2r), Chirag (NGO), Umang (Producers Company), a few visits to the field, a bio gas plant in operation. We visited, Sitla, Samyal, Ramgarh (where we were staying at nice Neemrana Property), and Ranikhet.
I’m going to write more about the places we went to and what we saw but this first blog on my Himjoli Yatra would be incomplete if I were not to mention the most amazing group that I was part of in this trip.
So there were Wadhwas, Jaitleys, Gidwani’s, Bhatias, Sameer Mehta, and Saiyyad and yours truly.
Who are we…. we are all friends of Himjoli.