Fighting the social taboo of untouchability, Hands-On Institute has been operating the first community homestay operated by Dalits in Nepal called “Aapshawara Community Dalit Homestay”. Surrounded by the mesmerizing view of Tanahun at Aapshawara village, the homestay provides guests with a unique experience of living a life of rural Nepal, eating Nepali food, staying in a Nepali village home with Nepali family. Established in 2016, the homestay is not only a financial source of income for the families but it has also been supporting to fight the stigma of untouchability.
Bijay Poudel, Co-founder of Hands-On Institute, introduces Aapshawara Community Dalit Homestay for people who want to experience a different way of living. People can live with the families in the community and experience their life who are considered as untouchables in the Nepalese community.
Well, these homestays are not necessarily just places where one can come to spend a few days on the hills, but it also has turned into a lifestyle learning center. The guests can learn traditional skills of the locals like making bamboo baskets, tools out of iron, mud jewelry, cooking Nepali food and also lessons on playing traditional musical instruments of Nepal.
Aapshawara Community Dalit Homestay has been providing a platform for intercultural exchange, the locals have opportunities to talk to people from other parts of the world and at the same time, show their way of living. Guests from any part of the globe are able to get hands-on experience of the Nepalese lifestyle.
Homestays are a great way for the community to build its economy with the use of local resources while preserving their culture. Community on the other hand also builds a strong bond within themselves and with their guests. People who seek an escape from their day-to-day hectic life can enjoy a short trip to Aapshawara Community Dalit Homestay and come back feeling refreshed.
There are currently 18 homestay houses operating in Aapshawara and they have been serving guests from the United States, France, Germany, Japan, Australia, Indonesia, Switzerland, and Finland, also a few guests from South Asia.
Hands-On Institute, established in 2011, is an organization focused on education and travel. With a grand vision of developing marginalized communities by developing businesses that utilize local products and services, they have been coordinating with academic institutes to organize educational travels that include designing curriculum, itineraries, budgets, evaluation, follow-up, and sustainability.
By operating Aapshawara Community Dalit Homestay, Hands-On Institute has started a fight against untouchability. This fight is not a one day’s job but would take years to win. But, at least a step has been taken and the people from Aapshawara can live a dignified life.