Why we're here
Our journey begins, like many a traveler’s tale with the clashing of two worlds.
Years ago, when our founder was on assignment to gather stories of change in India, she interviewed many impoverished families with a missing daughter. She was told that these girl children were ‘studying in a town nearby because there were better schools there’ and she believed their explanations. Until someone much older and wiser casually informed her that the girls were most probably ensnared into sexual slavery. The stark contrast between the relative comfort of her own world and that of the people she spoke to was her first, and perhaps most painful, the realization of how cruel poverty really is. The haunting words of the people she met made it difficult for her to continue with her previous lifestyle.
This is the distant beginning of what is today Dharma Endeavours. We are a social enterprise aiming to connect to the heart of India.
That one journey led to more across the subcontinent. It brought on the realization that 70% of the country lives in rural communities. Their agrarian lifestyles and related services make up around 20% of the country’s GDP. It is no wonder then, that they constitute 80% of the country’s impoverished. The eke out a living by gambling on the weather. One of the biggest challenges of India’s development paradigm is that this reality of her masses finds relatively little mention in the lives of millions of their educated, urban contemporaries. There is a divide between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ that is widened by a lack of awareness.
Travel is a powerful way to bring awareness to people. For those seekers out there, keen on learning through travel, we aim to open up this relatively unknown world through the experiences we curate. Dharma Endeavours is the link between communities and travelers.
Travel in India covers more than just distance: it cuts across time. The thousands of monuments and relics are strewn across India’s villages echo of a glorious history. According to a World Economic Forum report, there are more than 600,000 of them with a unique heritage. This heritage is preserved not just in stone-carved relics of forgotten empires, but also the living traditions and festivities of its peoples. The rural travel market in India is estimated at USD 25 Billion. Yet the rural communities at these heritage sites do not benefit from the tourism earnings they generate as much as they could. Their world of rustic simplicity, their naturally sustainable lifestyles and their struggles and challenges are largely unknown. The fragile economic security of their agrarian livelihoods puts them at risk for poverty.
Heritage sites, whether natural or man-made, are nodal points of connection between the old world and the new, the urban citizen with their rural contemporary, the ‘haves’ with the ‘have-nots’. When handled responsibly, they enable life-changing cross-cultural exchange. They provide a chance for rural communities to earn much-needed extra income to supplement the risks of agriculture. Through our partnerships, we work in rural areas of India and its heritage sites to promote community tourism.
Our Social Impact
At its core, we are in the business of setting up rural micro-entrepreneurs to provide hospitality services. We do so through direct connections with local families or through partnerships with grassroots organizations.
We aim to achieve a two-fold purpose:
- Connect Indian rural and responsible tourism services to urban and international markets, thereby enriching local communities and
- Enrich the lives of travelers through cross-cultural exchange, making them aware of the growing divide between ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’.
Our plan is to leverage the revenue we generate through travelers in the following ways:
- To provide supplementary income to local families (a majority of the revenue of each booking goes to them).
- To identify and support local non-profit organizations in their work by providing resources and networks as necessary and
- To take up and initiate development activities directly through our own efforts. We aim to launch integrated, participatory programs in agriculture, education, health, self-awareness, and waste management that transform rural communities into models of change.
We thank you for choosing us for your holiday!