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My name is Claire Ferguson, a Program Leader with Operation Groundswell, located in Toronto, Canada
Operation Groundswell is a Toronto based organization that organizes and facilitates 6-week educational and volunteer backpacking programs throughout the world for youth aged 18-30.

Welcome: We were warmly welcomed by the family. The guesthouse was very clean and we felt right at home! Even though it was late, they had dinner ready.
Homestay: The homestay was fantastic. Jeevan’s family is very kind and made us feel like part of the family. It was easy to spend hours lounging around the house.
Family and Food: Gunja cooks so much! I can’t believe how much food is prepared in such a small kitchen. Everything was delicious, and all our participants with allergies or particular food needs were accommodated. There was always LOTS of food, and although we aren’t used to eating so late at night, we were certainly always very hungry once dinner time came around.
Nature: The area is beautiful , although the thought of leopards made it scary to go to the bathroom at night.
Project: I think we were able to contribute what we could to the project, though we weren’t always sure we were being helpful. It wasn’t always clear who decided which member of the community would receive the toilet (whether the community at large decided, or whether the Verma family decided). It would have been nice to know more about the family that we were building the toilet for, to get to know them and their situation, or to learn more about the importance of a clean santitation system, as it is something we often take for granted at home.
Culture: Jeevan did a great job exposing is to Kamaon culture, bringing us to many temples in the area, and inviting us to part of a wedding ceremony. We weren’t really sure what the ceremony was for before we went, but we found out. More information about the marriage process would be interesting.
Community: I think we integrated really well into the Verma family, but didn’t engage much with the rest of the community. Everyone seemed very friendly and welcoming though.
Claire Ferguson
Claire@operationgroundswell.com
Toronto, Ontario
Canada
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It was my first time volunteering. Before I was travelling in India with my dad for two weeks, so the difference between those two was very big and unfortunately I was very tired because of that. The difference made me also feel a little homesick and all together I became sick the first 3 days, having fever, coughing, cold etc. The family took care of me very well! They were bringing me tea, water, food and medicines. After three days only some coughing was left and I went outside, but still I wanted to take it slow because of my tiredness. They introduced me to a ceremony at their lovely temple. The rest of days I could help with some washing, teaching and playing with the children. I also decided to donate a sewing machine, something that could be very useful for all the damaged clothes of the Kanda children and for making new clothes.
I would have loved to help with more such as farming, fieldwork and building projects.
I hope many more volunteers will come here and give the community more body.

Loren Douma
Netherlands


http://www.rosekanda.org
http://www.euttaranchal.com/hotels/rose-kanda-rural-homestay-bageshwar.php
http://www.facebook.com/ROSEKanda.volunteering
http://bageshwar.nic.in/pages/display/55-excursion

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Glogal Agriculture Sumit prize 10-09-2013Vibrant Gujarat Global Agriculture Summit 2013.
I attended the Summit and awarded by Hon’b Chief Minister Narendra Modi and felicitated us during the summit on 9 – 10 Sep. 2013. I have been selected by the Award Selection Committe for the commendable countribution to the Agriculture sector (scientific and technology addopted micro Dairy ) in Kanda region.This award comprisesd of a secroll of Honour, Memento besides the Cesh prize . I am greatful the Gujarat Government for the Honour.
I learned lot of good and new experience about Agriculture development through Exibition , debaits,lectures ,interection with the global participants .

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On 14th April 2012 Abdial public School Annual Day celebrated, students sow their telent ,Lukan visitor from Germany also participated with Mr Jeevan verma on the Day.

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I have spend two weeks in ROSE Kanda.I stayed with homestay family, which made my

experience even better as I could see how they live their lifes every day.They took care

of me as their own member of family.
I gained experience of bricks making.They don’t use any machine to do that all is made by

hand. It is hard work but it was very riwarding and I learned new skill.
Mr. Verma and his son took me to see carpet making.It was very fascinating to see how the

carpets are made, I was very surprised how long take to make one carpet.
At the time I was there, they had Holi celebrations, It was very interesting to see

ceremony and how familys and friend gets together and celebrate this amazing festival.
I got to see how local people in rural areas lives,how hard their lifes are and

understand more their culture.
This life changing experience which I’ll never forget made me appriciate my life even

more and I hope I’ll get chance to come back again one day.

Anna
from Slovakia
anna.cifrova@gmail.com

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Hari & I are spending 2 weeks in India, thus far the first week has been the most exciting and rewarding week, we have spent 5 days with the Verma family.

The weather here has been a little cold, but what do you expect when you come in winter time, the weather may have been cold and wet but the welcome was very warm.

We arrived after nearly 20 hours travel by bus and car from New Delhi, the bus journey was very memorable, as it was very basic, cold and crowded.
Mr Verma met us in Hardwani, and never have we been so happy to see a stranger.
We had a long taxi drive to Kanda, but this was very comfortable, in spite of the rough roads.
As we traveled for 7 further hours to Kanda we stopped and ate, at many of the shops along the way, the food was amazing.

When we reached the village and The Rose cottage, we were pleasantly surprised by the standard of accommodation; the room although basic in UK standards, had electricity a bed and very nicely decorated walls.
The Verma family made us so welcome, making us the best cups of tea I have tasted.
Then there was the food this was really really good, all home cooked and very very welcome after a long journey.
The Verma family have been so good to us, and we have gained so much from working on the community centre, making bricks, and visiting the village and playing with the children and giving gifts.
The new year was spent with the Verma family and this was magnificent, we had a special meal made for us, and shared some nice rum.

Overall the experience has been amazing and we look forward to coming to Kanda again in the future.

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The beautiful hill station, and home of peace (Shantinikitan) Kanda is situated at 1500-1900m above sea level. Surrounded by beautiful mountains and terraced fields it captivates the sense and imaginations of the locals and visitors alike. Both the local people and the visitors appreciate the beauty here and benefit from the pure air and healthy environment that the mountain scenery presents. According to legends, and the older inhabitants, there once lived a local caste of Kanyal. Kanda is named after this caste. The hills of Kanda are very attractive to foreign visitors, and is often likened to the Swiss Alps.
From 1988 tourists of different nationalities have come to stay at the center for paying guests and ecotourism as volunteers. During their stay at Sonargaon , which can last from a few days to several months, visitors watch, join and enjoy community life. They also gain a good understanding and knowledge of Kumoani culture and way of life, and of the deep spiritual and religious beliefs, and so have a unique and enjoyable experience.
Visitors can learn about local food preparation techniques, which is done using specific spices and locally grown organic vegetables. Experiencing this local cuisine can be one of the highlights of life at Kanda!
In their leisure time, visitors enjoy the stunning natural environment. The sweet fragrance of local flowers, the deep chattering of beautiful birds and the colourful butterflies make life here deeply calming. This experience can give a new personal strength to visitors, and the peace and calm can provide an opportunity for the stresses and pressures of life to crumble away and give peace of mind with the deep effect of this intellectual meditation. Many visitors take advantage of this calm atmosphere by practicing yoga.
Visitors can explore on foot the area surrounding Sonargaon village and see the members of the local community carryout their daily tasks, and so gain an insight into this way of life.
Another wonderful experience to be gained by a visit to ROSE is learning about the religious aspects of community life. There are different religious events, some held in the temples and others in people’s homes. Events of religious significance include celebrating various Hindu deities such as the celebration of Ramayana, Bhagwatgita, and Shivachana (worship of lord Shiva), the religious speeches of the priest and the nine days of Nawabriti (where there is worship everyday). These rituals give meaning to peoples lives and also serve as entertainment. During their stay, visitors may observe various religious customs and traditions, such as marriage ceremonies, the naming ceremony of a baby, and Rakhi, the ceremony of sacred thread. Rakhi is an important ceremony where siblings tie thread around each other’s wrists, and by doing so, sisters are assured of their brother’s support and protection. There are many small and extraordinary religious events, including Jagar, the Kumoani folk songs, and the classical dance Chaachari, to name but a few. The women wear many different types of Jewelry, made from Gold and Silver, such as nose and ear studs/rings, necklaces, toes rings, anklets, and many colourful bangles on their wrists.
Kumoani people inherit a long tradition of culture and local environmental knowledge. They have a great understanding of the area, and are able to put the land to good use growing various different crops at different times of the year. They are also very skilled at animal husbandry, and many families own cows, buffalo, poultry and goats, as well as dogs and cats as pets. Creative knowledge regarding local arts and crafts is taught to the younger generations, and many are skilled in artistic pursuits such as dried flower decoration and painting special designs and patterns on the houses, which is called Alpana and Rangoli. Visitors are able to observe and participate in many of these activities and through this gain a deep understanding of the local heritage. If so inclined, visitors can use their time here to conduct detailed studies of local culture, mythology, architecture and artwork, and so students of many disciplines make good use of the opportunities for study here at Kanda.
Participation in the organic farming is enjoyed by many visitors at ROSE. Some people come here as part of the international Willing Work on Organic Farms scheme. Students of geography, biology, or those who are simply interested, can learn a great deal about local biodiversity and organic farming. ROSE operates many schemes to provide eco-friendly and sustainable energy, such as biogas for cooking that comes from cattle manure. Anyone with an interest in ecological issues, or anyone who has any ideas and proposals about sustainable development, will find plenty of scope to explore these ideas further here in Kanda.
While visitors stay here at ROSE, they can use their own personal skills to contribute to the community, and take on the role of eco/bio tourist. Ecotourists staying here are able to learn about the area while contributing to the host community, for example by teaching English, helping with construction projects, or with environmental projects such as reforestation. Through these activities ecotourists can satisfy their aims of sharing their skills with the community and positively contributing to the lives of the rural poor, whose environment and culture the tourists come to experience. Visitors can also spend some time learning Hindi and the local language Kumoani, can learn how to cook Kumoani food and mix the unique and medicinal herbs and spices, and learn about traditional farming and building technologies.

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