“Promoting health and the environment through a synergy of man and land.” This is the statement that the Kevin Rohan Memorial Eco Foundation (KRMEF) brands themselves with.
On Tuesday, Jan. 30, the Keene State College Environmental Studies Department hosted a lecture on sustainability and resilience in Nepal. The lecture was given by Krishna Gurung, one of the founders of KRMEF. Gurung founded KRMEF alongside his wife in 2008 in Kathmandu Valley, Nepal. According to their website, the organization’s goal is to establish a variety of eco-friendly practices for communities in Nepal in order to create a more sustainable, healthy environment.
The eco-friendly practices that KRMEF brings to Nepali villages was one of the main topics discussed at the lecture. Pictures were shown of houses that had been built out of purely recycled and natural materials, like glass bottles, thatch and bamboo.
There was also an example of sustainable energy production, where cow dung and urine are mixed and stored in a tank that retains off-gassing of methane that can then be used for cooking.
Gurung said, “Agriculture and creating jobs with the local resources is the most important thing.”
Creating local jobs is another goal of KRMEF.
“Through KRMEF people can get a job and send their children to school…[Local people] can work and they can think about the community,” Gurung said.
KRMEF also benefits from volunteering. In 2014 and 2016, a group of KSC students traveled to Nepal and volunteered with the organization. Professor of Environmental Studies Dr. Renate Gebauer said, “When we [the student groups] were at the foundation, we’d do projects. We always do whatever they need help with. It could be from jewelry making to gardening. The first year, we helped with building a Leela café. We worked with the locals to help where it was needed.”
Leela’s Eco Café, according to the KRMEF website, is a café that serves biodynamic and eco-friendly Nepali food for locals. Their proceeds go toward helping the sustainability of the region.
Gebauer is leading another group of KSC honors students from the global engagement class to Nepal again this year. An internship that takes students to Nepal for five weeks is also being developed. “I think that broadening the perspective of how you see the world and sustainability in the environment is so important… We can learn so much just from the people in Nepal and how they build their communities; cultures can always learn from each other,” Gebauer said on the importance of these trips.
KSC first-year and exchange student from Nepal, Benajil Rai, attended the lecture. Rai is planning on minoring in sustainability and said, “I personally support sustainable living… I really liked seeing how they utilized local resources to make the village sustainable.”
Rai also said that the lecture made her wonder what else can be done to make our living and our environment sustainable.
“Even a small thing can make a big difference, that’s what I found the most interesting part,” Rai said.
Making a difference in the world was a strong message given by this lecture. “The Gurungs are really an example that even if you are in a very difficult situation, you can change the world,” Gebauer said. “Everyone can find their way to make a difference.”
Disclaimer: Benajil Rai works as Multimedia Director for The Equinox.
Rachel Vitello can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org