"Karmabhoomi uses Ladakh’s abundant resources to generate incomes for the villagers which will be invested in the local people’s education."
“Karmabhoomi focuses on helping Indian villages by teaching skills with available resources to promote self-sufficiency, known as “Karm.” We aim to teach people and generate employment opportunities in rural communities through education, skills and resources. After travelling across India for months, we found that people in villages are happier compared to people in cities and towns but don’t have a sustainable source of income and education.
“Karmabhoomi uses Ladakh’s abundant resources to generate incomes for the villagers which will be invested in the local people’s education. We provide people with the skills and employment by creating sustainable small scale industries. We want to create products that are nationally and internationally recognized, as well as improving the cultural heritage of India. We are dedicated to creating a sustainable source of income and education in villages to stop the migration of village population.
“The shawls Karmabhoomi produces take several steps. The raw material for our creations are pashmina and sheep’s wool that we obtain once a year from different villages in Changthang block in Ladakh. We get wool from each village with many people pitching in to help. The village head is responsible for collecting because it employs so many people and allows them to earn a living. Then we transport the wool to our plant.
“We process our wool with the help of 13 people and two assistants. Once the wool is processed, it is hand spun by 52 workers into fiber using charkha and other hand tools. After spinning the wool, our weaving section creates the shawls on 48 handlooms. Then finally, we have the embellishment and ornamentation section to finish the shawls. At each step of creating the shawls, we have supervisors and assistants to assure their quality.
“Ladakh’s location near the border makes it a difficult territory to travel. Ladakh is a tight-knit community that usually doesn’t accept outsiders. It took us many years to earn the people’s trust and help them understand Karmabhoomi’s aims.
“While starting to work in Ladakh and Kashmir, we faced problems with the secret agencies and local administration. We were so emotionally and financially exhausted that we had to stop working in Ladakh for a time. The initial stages of setting up the venture were so challenging that we felt that we wouldn’t be able to survive. We came up against resistance from the local agencies and people against the allowing others to prosper.
“Working in Ladakh’s wintry conditions made some of the volunteers and members sick. But all of these challenges only motivated us to keep working towards achieving our goal. Most of this project’s expenses were paid from our member’s personal savings.
“There were also some frightening moments which are now funny experiences for us. We were shooting a documentary one winter night in Ladakh when the temperature dropped to -30 degree centigrade. While shooting, a light suddenly turned on us and we were ordered to raise our hands in the air or else be shot. After 15 minutes at gunpoint, we were given clearance by the Indian army. We thought that if they kept us in this position for another minute, we would die from the cold. It was a scary moment then, but now we all laugh a lot.”