AVANI, THE HIMALAYAS
Rajnish Jain and Rashmi Bharti started Avani as a non-profit organization in 1999 in the Kumaon, Uttarakand, northern India. The name Avani comes from Hindi and means Earth. Avani is a community that works from an environmentally friendly and locally beneficial perspective. About 20 families from the area live and work here. The children go to their own school with an international focus and everyone eats, lives and works together in large collective. Rajnish has developed the infrastructure for solar and other alternative energy sources here, and Rashmi manages teams who weave, dye and sew. Everything is done by hand with a community-centric and holistic perspective. Raw materials are sourced from local shepherds and dyeing elements are extracted from plants and leaves mostly culled from the local Himalayan slopes.
To date, Avani has worked directly with 108 villages, employing 4,540 people and indirectly impacting 22,700 people through its various projects and activities.
Though both men and women are involved in the activities of Avani, the focus is on giving women in the villages the opportunity to generate their own independent income. They comprise 85% of the participants.
Rashmi lectures on Avani's work around the world, generating so much interest that volunteers now travel five hours by train and then and hours by car from Dehli to the backwaters of the Himalayas to learn the craft.