AMAIDI Volunteering in India

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Sustainable Tourism

Beautiful Sikkim

Sustainable Tourism by The Blue Yonder in Sikkim

Employing 260 million people and generating 10.7% of world’s GDP, Tourism is the largest as well as the fastest industry of the world. Within this industry a growing number of people – both travelers, travel agents as well as travel companies – are pushing a new brand: sustainable tourism that conserves natural resources, values the  local culture and traditions, opened up to visitors and contributes to the (local) economy. Sustainable tourism wants to make the development of tourism ecologically supportable in the long term. Moreover, sustainable tourism, also called responsible tourism, intends to generate employment and income in the villages exposed to tourists, without disrupting the social and ecological balance that existed before the tourist came. Next to this, there’s also an element of information exchange: except informing the tourists about the destination they are about to visit, it also aims at informing the locals about the foreign cultures of the tourists.Earlier – when aspects as livelihood and local economy were not involved in ‘green’ initiatives – what is now commonly know as sustainable tourism was then called ‘eco-tourism‘. As explained above, sustainable tourism is broader, deals with more than only environmental aspects of having tourist visit villages and thus encomprises eco-tourism in its concept.

There is a growing body of travel agencies involved in sustainable or responsible tourism. AMAIDI plans to get involved in this area by linking

Beautiful Karnataka

Responsible Tourism by The Blue Yonder in Karnataka

with one of such organizations, called The Blue Yonder. This Bangalore based travel agency promotes tourism that is economically, ecologically and socially just. The Blue Yonder lets you explore India through river rafting or a country boat cruise, legend trails, rain forest trekking, camping, walking safari, vehicle safari, music trails, marital arts, folk expressions, culinary trails or just lazing. The Blue Yonder is set up to raise funds for the Nila Foundation, to revive and regenerate one of the longest and sadly neglected rivers in South India called Nila (Bharatapuzha). At present The Blue Yonder offers sustainable/responsible tourism destinations in Kerala, Karnataka, Sikkim, Rajasthan, Orissa, West-Bengal, Andaman Islands and Nepal, exploring new destinations in Tamil Nadu in partnership with AMAIDI Volunteering in India.

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Filed under: Millennium Development Goals (MDG), Sustainable Tourism, Village life, volun-tourism, , ,

Auroville

February 28, 4 o’clock in the morning. The bus with driver Anbu is driving up the lane of IITPD in Chettikuppam, to catch the 16 participants of ‘What I See’, a project of AMAIDI Volunteering in India, CC4U & JoHo. It’s Auroville 40’th birthday and the whole group is going to watch the bonfire at the amphi-theatre, where on Feb 28, 1968 youth representatives of 124 countries put a handfull of their native soil into a lotus-bud shaped urn to symbolize the strive for human unity, the key-concept in Auroville. In New Creation and Last School Campus, for 10 days all were involved in music & other arts; they visited an Arts’ College in Ariankuppam, Anandi’s organic cooking class in Kottakarai, gave a Tai Bo and Boxing workshop in New Creation School and cooked a Dutch dinner for the village elders and youth of Kuilapayam Village. in Last School, a concert was given of Dutch danc’ styles and Tamil youth gave a dance show of their own, by way of exchange. It has been a full program, at times tiring but always surprising and with amply opportunity to meet local youth and artists in a series of cultural events.

Filed under: CC4U, culture, exchange program, international volunteers, music, Village life

“We learned a lot”

Saturday-morning, 10 am. The final session. Presentations of the volunteers with reflections on their work, experience and feelings during the past week of voluntary action in Reddichavadi and surrounding villages. A cow-shed has been ‘floored’, cows washed, lunch cooked, children taught (songs and body parts) and knowledge gained about ‘livelihood support’ by an NGO called ‘Bless’. Everyone was impressed, to say the least, of the impact of these (and other) projects on the lives of the beneficiaries in the villages. Some have determined to come back and do more voluntary work. Fact is that the group of 16 Dutch nationals is heading for a two weeks’ exchange program with local youth, in the field of music, art and culture. Culture Clash For You!

Filed under: Bless, CC4U, culture, exchange program, international volunteers, music, projects, Village life

Reddichavadi

In a rented bus, a trip of 1 hour and with boots, in case one has to work in the cow stable, our 16 participants gladly move themselves from IITPD in Marakkanam to Reddichavadi, where AMAIDI’s staff and the project coordinators of Bless are waiting to direct them to their projects: a livelihood advancement centre (giving vocational training to older school drop-outs), open school (for younger drop-outs), cows (milk-supply and model for farmers) and the construction of a new cow stable (flooring and bricks’ transport). From 10 am till 4 pm, with a tea- and lunch break, all of the members of CC4U are working hard ‘to get things done’. ‘This work can be done much more efficient’, is an often heard remark. ‘Come, let’s make a chain to pass on the sand, that goes faster ..’. The lunch is good (I’m personally chopping the fresh veg’s) and we all drink lots and lots of water. There are group-discussions, interactions with women Self Help Groups, with villagers and with Bless’ staff. There are daily eye-openers, through which the personal concepts of ‘development aid’ are changing. And, very important: everyone is enjoying it!

Filed under: Bless, CC4U, exchange program, Village life, volunteering in India

Village Xperience

For those seeking an authentic India living experience, the Amaidi village house is it. The house is the basic one room cement block (w/ alcove) where many villagers live with their entire families. The difference is you have the whole place to yourself until about 6:30 AM when Jessy, the tenant, comes home to prepare breakfast and lunch for the children. So lucky you, no alarm clock needed. The reason you have the whole place at night is that, as most of you know, Indian families sleep with their extended families in rooms just like this one, and Jessy is Camille’s sister in law and sleeps at Camille’shouse.  So you are literally trading places with her when you access the guest house facilities during the day –very efficient!! One disadvantage, NO TOILET, although for a guy, it can be quite advantageous as you can really become one with nature.  Actually, as mentioned, you have access to the guest house which is literally across thestreet, so no problem. Anything else??  Yes, you may have little visitor friends at night. But then again, it becomes hard to tell what is happening inside verses outside the house. However you are pretty well cordoned off in a little alcove, soagain, no problem. My little friends and I came to a mutual understanding -I would pretend that they were outside, and they would pretend I was sleeping. No, all kidding aside, it is a truly authentic and fun experience. If you are working with villagers or children of the village, than it kind of makes sense to live in the village and this is a safe entree into village life. Am I enjoying it?  Absolutely, I’m having the time of my life and learning how little I actually need to be happy.   

Cheers to that! 

Brian Gallo 

Filed under: Home stay, Village life

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AMAIDI Volunteer in an evening school

AMAIDI helps out evening schools in teaching the children English

AMAIDI Foundation

The AMAIDI Foundation is AMAIDI's latest offshoot. AF is meant to support (ex)volunteers in their funding and implementing projects they support during or after their stay/work in India. For partners in India it is also an instrument that enables them to find (new) sponsors and donors to invest in their projects. And for donors to find the implementing agencies they need to realize their social targets/harvest their profit/social ROI

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