The GHE expedition team has created a tangible impact in the lives of people in Ladakh. From running a school with all modern amenities, to generating self sufficiency in electricy with solar panels…
People in some of the remotest villages in Ladakh have never experienced electricity in their lives. This team of changemakers is giving a whole new meaning to tourism. They have constructed an advanced, technology-friendly E-base and have also set up three Solar DC Microgrids.
Global Himalayan Expedition aims at giving tourists a holistic Himalayan experience, stretching across pure adventure and cultural connect with the local communities. They also encourage the travelers in setting up sustainable energy and education based infrastructure in the remote Himalayan regions.
“Our main objective is to use tourism to impact the lives of remote and underprivileged communities across the Himalayan region. Tourism should be much more than just visiting a place; it should impact both the community’s life and your life,” says Paras Loomba, founder, GHE.
Son of an army officer, Loomba travelled extensively across India, stayed in 12 cities, changed around 15 schools and experienced some of the coldest places of India. While he initially thought of joining the army, Loomba’s desire to do something different kept him restless and he looked for ways he could explore different areas of work.
Loomba gathered a bunch of his friends and planned to set up a school in Ladakh with the latest technologies and facilities.
The GHE expedition team is selected through a set process. Applications are invited across the globe and only pasionate people are selected. A maximum of 25 people go for the expedition at one time and they come from different countries. They currently conduct one expedition each year for a duration of about 12 days, but they hope to make double that frequency soon.
“Since we want to make it a global platform, the expedition team consists of people from several countries. 40 percent of the people are from India and the rest from other countries,” says Loomba.
Loomba and his team went to Ladakh to construct a one-of-its-kind E-Base (Education Base) near Mahabodi school. The school hosts around 500 students from several nearby villages. He didn’t have any experience in this field. But it was his passion that drove him to the highest peak to bring a change. And it was his passion and his team’s hard work that helped him construct a Third Pole E-base, 3,500 meters above the sea level.
The structure of the school was not like any other building. It was a double wall construction that kept the indoors warm even if it was freezing outside. Not only this, the E-base also offered several tablets and laptops to the students with a good internet connection that helps them to connect with people across the globe.
And all of this at a location where there is almost no connectivity with the outer world. “When we first introduced the idea, we received over 300 applications within a month. This gave us the confidence that this can work. People from nine countries joined me and we started our work to construct this unique E-base in a land which was affected by cloud burst,” Loomba says.
Ladakh receives 300 days of bright sunlight every year, with the world’s maximum insulation level of upto 1200w/m2 energy. The E-Base team decided to tap into this advantage and utilize the sunlight for a better purpose. Apart from a very successful E-Base, the GHE team also set up 3 Solar DC Microgrids in Sumda Chenmo village which hosts around 100 houses and is 2 treks away from any nearby town.
Solar Lanterns typically last a year or two with a maximum supply of 3-4 hours of light, while a Solar DC Microgrid can light up houses with up to 10 hours of electricity backup per day and can run uninterrupted for 5 years,” says the team.
The small team of five has created a tangible impact in the lives of people in Ladakh. The installation of micro grid and use of solar energy completely eliminated the use of around 1,600 litres of Kerosene by the villagers.
The solar lights have helped the villagers to increase their working hours by four hours per day which is very crucial for them as their main occupation is making handicraft products from brass and copper.
GHE’s initiatives have also increased livelihood options and income opportunities as every year several tourists come here, and they not only spend time with the community but also find possible solutions to their problems.
Students have started playing an active role in sustainable living practices.
“Apart from this, attendance in schools has increased. The idea is to empower kids to study and enable them to go to their villages and install solar grids themselves. We want to provide sustainable solutions,” says Loomba.
Till date, around 400 students use the 100 percent solar powered E-Base. GHE wants to take this initiative to the next level by electrifying 20 more villages in Ladakh by next year and 50 villages in the next three years.
“We want to scale up and reach out to more people and villages. We will be definitely organizing more expeditions, more campaigns and more visits in the future,” Loomba says. The GHE team also wants to expand to other areas like Uttarakhand and Arunchal Pradesh.