With the complete collapse of the tourism industry in 2020, Ladakh is experiencing 90% youth unemployment. In border areas where many young people leave school at the Class 8 or 10 level, they are the last to be hired and first to be fired during a downturn. For the differently-abled they are completed excluded this year. Until now, there was no concept of enhancing local resources - and knowledge of those resources - and leveraging that to bring income back to remote villages.
Working with the District Commissioner (Premier) we've created a Youth Conservation Corps (YCC - similar to during the Great Depression) to make use of enthusiastic young people to document the rich history of their nomadic culture, build local resources and create an inclusive Community Based Tourism linking visitors to their rich handicrafts, cultural and research experiences and opportunities to work side by side with the nomads of the region.
The YCC - a mix of drop outs, differently-abled and unemployed - are also introducing Ladakhipedia (authentic learning experiences for all students while schools remain shut), helping invent an Internet-in-a-Box (providing needed health and district information -along with all of Wikipedia -to all areas with no cell coverage), and demonstrating that youth of all abilities can serve as entrepreneurs, leaders and the changemakers we so need in this remote Himalayan region.
When successful, the Lieutenant Governor is hiring these youth to spread the YCC to all areas of the new Union Territory. And we are lucky enough to be involved in the creation of a life-changing project.
The Government of India is investing 50% of funds needed for a 3-month pilot, and 100% of the follow-up work. We just need $3,000 to match that offer and bring hope to thousands across this Himalayan Region.