Women in Ladakh village are slowly turning into homestay hosts | Travel

Opening their picturesque houses for vacationers has been the way in which in the direction of empowerment, each social and monetary, for ladies in Ladakh’s Phyang village who’ve lengthy labored unseen as prepare dinner, cleaner and farm employee – and are now discovering new confidence as mini-entrepreneurs.  

With most of the males working for the Army and away from residence for months, the ladies of Phyang, a mountain village about 15 km from Leh with nice views of rugged peaks and cloud laden blue skies, are slowly coming into their very own as homestay hosts.

“After all these years of being at home, I feel like I am not even smart enough to talk to people but I think being a host will help me interact with more people, and also help brush up my Hindi,” Tsering Dolker, a 36-year-old host, instructed PTI.  

Her husband is presently posted as a ‘hawaldar’ in Berchok glacier, and is residence for barely two months in a year.   

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Tsering, who gave up her job as a knowledge operator in Doordarshan quickly after she acquired married, has spent a lot of the years since citing her two boys aged seven and 13, and farming, promoting the wheat and potato from her land to make a residing.  

The alternative of incomes a residing by internet hosting travellers in her residence has come as a “convenient” resolution to all her issues.  

“At this point, we don’t have many money issues because my husband has a good salary. But he will retire in another two years and the cost of our children’s education is only expected to increase. So earning through this homestay will help a huge deal,” she mentioned.   

Tsering has a conventional Ladakhi residence, with 5 rooms, two of which the household has saved. The remaining have been registered on Airbnb.  

The on-line journey portal has tied up with non-profit organisation Self Employed Women’s Association of India (SEWA) for Hum Sab Ek, an initiative that’s empowering ladies to develop into micro-entrepreneurs by serving to them flip into homestay hosts.   

As a part of this SEWA-Airbnb partnership, 10 houses in Phyang village have been listed on the journey portal, and the quantity is anticipated to extend in the approaching years. 

“We are proud to extend our partnership with SEWA in Ladakh and help empower local women Hosts on Airbnb to secure their financial independence and bring valuable tourism dollars into their communities.  

“As part of our broader efforts to help rebuild tourism for the benefit of local communities, we aim to work together with these micro-entrepreneurs to promote sustainable and responsible travel and stays that contribute to resilient local economies and support jobs,” mentioned Amanpreet Bajaj, common supervisor, Airbnb India, Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan.  

The initiative is essential to the method of empowerment, each social in addition to monetary, in Phyang village.  

In most households right here, ladies are the central determine doing all types of jobs, together with cooking and cleansing inside the houses and farming exterior. Their work, very similar to family work all through the nation, has historically gone unrewarded and unrecognised.  

But change is afoot and the ladies, visibly shy and below assured, are changing into arbiters of their lives and that of their households.  

Like Tsering, turning homestay host has opened home windows for Tsewang Dolma, whose world got here crashing down in 2010 when her husband abruptly handed away. Tsewang, now 50, had spent a lot of her life being depending on first her father, then her husband.  

When her husband died, she needed to fend for herself and her three youngsters, the oldest of whom was solely 10 on the time. She monetised the one talent she had – cooking – however that acquired her not more than 8,000 a month. Life would have continued in a lot the identical method had it not been for the SEWA-Airbnb Hum Sab Ek initiative.  

“I am really excited about becoming a host. I have worked so hard all my life to earn the bare minimum. It wasn’t easy to earn a living, and take care of three children. But now, I can work from my home, be close to my children and still earn enough,” she mentioned.   

Chery Dolker, half Tsewang’s age at 25, has additionally discovered a brand new mission with Hum Sab Ek.  

A Nepali by delivery, Chery was adopted by a Ladakhi couple  as a baby and, as grateful as she is to them, she has at all times wished to make one thing of herself.  

With the household — her mother and father, brother, his spouse and baby — perpetually caught in a too-many-mouths-to-feed state of affairs, Chery dropped out of faculty early on to handle the home.   

The household has a two ground home with a stunning backyard patch in the entrance the place vegatables and fruits of all types are grown. The produce bought in the Leh market was the household’s major supply of revenue.  

“But becoming a host will change everything,” she mentioned optimistically.  

The tariffs for rooms at these homestays in Phyang is 2,000 per evening. These include all primary room facilities, nice views in addition to a possibility for travellers to expertise Ladakhi life in its truest kind.  

The kitchens and eating areas in these homes are stocked with Ladakhi meals, together with conventional breads, native fruits reminiscent of apricots and seabuckthorn berries, which are additionally consumed as jams and juices. 

Homestays in Phyang come as a welcome addition to the tourism scene in Ladakh which has homestays in widespread locations, together with Leh, Nubra Valley, Alchi, Siachen and Pangong.   

Phyang is just not among the many well-known vacationer locations in the Leh-Ladakh area, however being a 20-minute drive from the airport makes it a strategically excellent in a single day stopover.  

According to Tejas Raval of SEWA, the placement of those homestays will enable vacationers to have a day of relaxation to acclimatise to the altitude whereas having a culturally enriching expertise with native households.  

From these homestays in Phyang, one can discover some must-visit locations just like the Gurudwara Pathar Sahib,  the serene Sangam, the confluence of the Indus and Zanskar rivers, and the a lot talked about Magnetic hill, earlier than shifting on to Leh.  

“The great thing about the homestays is that they will give you the luxury of resting without having to spend a lot more in hotels. Also, the experience, unlike hotels, would not be impersonal. Tourists can interact with the hosts and know much more about their lives,” Raval mentioned.   

Similar homestay initiatives for empowering rural ladies have been created by SEWA and Airbnb in Gujarat, an initiative which they are planning to increase all through the nation. 

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This story has been revealed from a wire company feed with out modifications to the textual content. Only the headline has been modified.

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