And now for something completely different. This was my stay in Pataudi, not only is it (not yet) famous for almost being a UNESCO site, Pataudi was the first destination for a project now called Community Homestay.
There are 17 homestays here where you literally stay in a local’s home with the family. This project was devised to empower local women, give them earning potential and to also contribute to projects which help the local community. Each homestay is also booked on rotation to ensure a fair amount of business to each.
Projects like this are never as easy as they sound, the men are often against it initially, in Nepal, the women are often very shy and it’s hard to convince them to attempt this. It often starts with one or two, and then others join in. The ladies have to be taught some English, which the men teased them about, initially, until the women proved that they could now communicate with foreigners, where they couldn’t, respect started to emerge also. Certain standards of hygiene have to be taught and bathrooms upgraded to have a proper western toilet and hot water.
What projects like this do achieve is to encourage travellers into new destinations that have not become party to over tourism, place money directly into local economies, it empowers the women, gives them an independent income and increases their confidence. Part of the money the women earn, is also pumped into project in the community such as education.
This isn’t an experience everyone would enjoy, accommodation is very simple, though clean but if one accepts that this is actually life in Nepal, it’s a unique insight, a chance to gain an understanding of a community and culture, what is important, and have a much better understanding of the people of the country you are traveling to, then it is an experience that you should consider. Home cooking demonstrations are a must and making friends is inevitable.
For more information: http://www.communityhomestay.com