What We Do:
Karma Project is a nonprofit organization that works with mountain tourism workers who want to build their own sustainable tourism businesses. Profits from these businesses are given to community councils that use funds to construct infrastructure and provide medical and educational services to local people. Currently, Karma Project is working with Nepal Alpine Guides, a business owned by Karma Geljen Sherpa of Sibuje Village, Nepal. Karma Project helped Karma create this business in 2013. So far, Nepal Alpine Guides has employed more than two-dozen villagers, and with the help of Karma Project, funded scholarships, language training programs, business courses, construction of sanitary toilet facilities, purchase of school uniforms, funded tourism guide training for Sibuje women, raised tens of thousands of dollars for infrastructure, paid for earthquake relief, and outfitted more than a thirty mountain tourism workers.
How We Do It:
Local community members and leaders communicate what they need to Karma Project staff. This is done through in-country interviews with local people, as well as interviews with local leadership such as community council members. Often this requires use of translators, who may receive Karma Project funding to gain English language skills. Generally villagers already have a plan for how to solve community issues, and are seeking funding or expertise. Other times villagers look to Karma Project staff to help develop a plan of action.
Karma Project works with local businesses, agencies, organizations, and leadership whenever possible. This ensures that donations of money are given to local entities to provide services, rather than Karma Project providing services for free which can damage local businesses and economies.
Karma Project also partners with international tourism companies that wish to sell trips that benefit local people. By working with international businesses and organizations, Karma Project trips not only benefit people in the country being visited, but also benefit businesses and economies in other parts of the world.
Finally, Karma Project has partnered with outdoor clothing and equipment manufacturers. These companies donate warranty/return items to outfit mountain tourism workers who cannot afford proper clothing for their work. The donated items are borrowed and then returned to a clothing bank so they are available for others to use.
- We provide job training
- We provide language training
- We provide clothing and equipment to tourism workers
- We provide work opportunities for women, ethnic and religious minorities
- We ensure our partners provide insurance for all of their staff
- We ensure our partners provide wages that exceed government minimums
- We contribute profits to medical services, education, and infrastructure in the villages where tourism workers live.
- We limit porters’ loads to 60 lbs/27 kg. This is our maximum. Most of our porters will carry less than this. Many companies have a limit of 77 lbs/35 kg. Porters can use a backpack (provided to them for free) or use their own pack basket if they prefer.
- We follow Leave-No-Trace practices.
- We discourage the purchase of bottled beverages where disposal systems do not exist.
- We bring waste that cannot be disposed of properly in Nepal, such as batteries, back to our home countries.
- We provide homestay experiences that do not require construction of special facilities for use by tourists (such as lodges, shops, or teahouses)
- We encourage tourists to eat fresh, local food whenever possible, rather than packaged food (packaging is often disposed of onsite).
- We use water filters and light pens to purify water in order to limit the burning of local wood to boil water.
- We provide a human waste removal system to our tourism partners for use at alpine base camps rather than burying waste onsite. This is done by very few tourism agencies, and is one of the most important methods of preserving alpine environments in Nepal.