BIR (HP) INDIA: This month, the Dharmalaya Institute (a project of the Earthville Network) hosted its first service retreat program for international volunteers on its new eco-campus near the remote village of Bir in the Indian Himalayas. Organized in collaboration with SanghaSeva, the retreat welcomed sixteen participants from eight countries for ten days of volunteer work, group activity, meditation, and contemplation.
Service-learning activities during the retreat included the creation of the Institute’s first organic garden beds on the site, landscaping of a landslide area to prevent further erosion, tree planting, and introductory workshops in green building with earthen bricks. Guided meditation sessions were offered in the mornings and evenings, led by SanghaSeva cofounder Zohar Lavie.
As the buildings of the Dharmalaya Institute are currently under construction, the program participants slept in tents and meals were cooked in an a temporary outdoor kitchen. Both the service-learning activities and the preparation of meals provided opportunities for interaction between the international participants and the local villagers employed by Dharmalaya.
The response to the retreat was strongly positive, and the leadership of SanghaSeva and Dharmalaya are planning another service retreat for March 2012. Details will be posted on the Dharmalaya and SanghaSeva websites when available.
We warmly welcome you to be a part of it, too! Here are a few ways you can participate:
- VOLUNTEER: Come to Bir (in northern India) this spring (or next fall, or spring 2012) to volunteer for the “barn raising.” details ›
- DONATE: Make a charitable donation to support our eco-construction and the green jobs it creates (tax-deductible in the US and India). details ›
- SPONSOR TREES: Offset your carbon emissions for the year, while creating more green jobs, by sponsoring tree plantings in the Earthville Orchards, currently at just $2 US per tree (also tax-deductible). details ›
- SPREAD THE WORD: Forward this story to your friends, post it on your blog, share this story on Facebook and “like” the Earthville and Dharmalaya FB pages, send forth a mighty tweet, or, you know, talk to people.
For more information about the Dharmalaya Institute and how you can get involved, see the Dharmalaya website.