Published: 23rd October 2018
Why vacationing at Ghoomakad, a co-working space in Dharamshala, can change the lives of the Gaddi tribe
Ghoomakad, a homestay cum co-working space in Dharamshala is encouraging guests to interact with the tribes and find solutions for their problems — that range from teaching to sustainable practices
When Mohinder Sharma opened a homestay and became a first generation entrepreneur from among the Gaddi tribe eight years ago, he was determined that something fruitful for his tribe had to come out of it. Now we didn't use the word tribe here as a fancy synonym for squad. We are, in fact talking about Gaddis, a nomadic shepherd tribe who settled in Rakkad near Dharamshala around half a century ago.
But what difference can a homestay make? Well, Ghoomakad is not your regular homestay where tourists stay for a couple of days and leave. It is also a co-working space where you interact closely with the community and help them better their lives in some small way. You can educate the school students in a skill that you know, help women form groups or guide a few youngsters in a field that they don't know well.
Now you may wonder why we decided to call Ghoomakad a homestay initially. That is what it began as eight years ago. "I was very keen in reviving our culture and tradition and hence I built Ghoomakad in such a way that the cottages are built of mud and the guests actually get a feel of living among the tribe," says Mohinder. And then came the upgrades, because what is life without internet in the 21st century? "A few months after I built Ghoomakad, I realised how important it is for the city folk to have a proper internet access. So, I built a co-working space where they can access the internet and work peacefully," he tells us.
For Mohinder, the concept of co-working isn't new. It's something that he had always seen growing up. "We usually live in communities where everyone helps each other. Not many in my tribe are educated. I'm the first person in my family to go to school," says this entrepreneur who holds three Master's degrees, in Hindi, Economics and Social Work respectively. "I studied for my entire family," he jokes.
Mohinder tells us the story of an entrepreneur who stayed in Ghoomakad for a month and then ended up living in Rakkad for five years, training youngsters in entrepreneurial skills. There was an engineer who also helped them with computers. He observes how his people have grown more broadminded over years. "They are open to learning new things from different people. There is more exposure. Not just that, we have set up an organic farm here and that has employed a lot of farmers. We've set up cooperative societies too. Things are changing fast," says Mohinder, who dreams of making his village the most beautiful place on earth someday.