Rakkar Road

“It is almost banal to say so yet it needs to be stressed continually: all is creation, all is change, all is flux, and all is metamorphosis” – Henry Miller

Rakkar Road is the road that runs through the small village that plays home to my placement organization, Jagori Grameen. Tucked between the mountains and a river and about a 30 minute bus ride from Dharamshala, Rakkar is historically a nomadic herder community. For hundreds of years, herders have taken their sheep to the high mountain passes for grazing and to escape the heat of summer.  Trails carved across fields and up steep mountains criss-cross the area. Goats and sheep forage along the road. A river rushes below, and like so many places,  it is a community in flux.

The traditional gaddi wedding songs are less common, replaced by the popular punjabi DJs who blast music from around the world; the sheep herds have dropped from thousands to in some cases just 50; the road is just recently in the process of being widened in anticipation to the newest neighbors constructing a large house and hotel.

Local youth, like so many worldwide, seek to leave the traditional professions of their families for the perceived opportunities that exist in India’s cities. Outsiders, both foreigners and Indians, enchanted by the beauty of the mountains, come to build mountain escapes. Infrastructure has improved while farm land has disappeared.

The result is a beautiful mix of people from around the world and India but  also a community that is changing quickly. Such change raise the questions, how does our presence impact this community? Is this change what we seek for? How do we preserve culture while improving infrastructure?  As budding development practitioners  we spend much time asking how our work and lives can be impactful. For me, this translates to how my presence impacts this community both positively, negatively, and  possibly not at all.

What is undeniable to me however, is the enduring magic of the tall mountain peaks that beckon all that visit to peer upwards, contemplative and humbled. And of course, how wonderful my co-workers are, thank you all for the wedding invitations, share lunches, laughter, and warm warm smiles.  You have a magic all your own.

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The Rakkar Field
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Cassie believes that the search for creative solutions in sustainable development is crucial to problem solving. Her focus on India was solidified when she was accepted into the Hindi Language program as part of the Ohio Foreign Language Academy. During her undergraduate studies at Seton Hall University, she focused on Economics and South Asia both through coursework and as a student with the School of International Training in Jaipur, Rajasthan. While studying with SIT she completed an independent study project in Raithal Village, Uttarakhand on the impact of climate change on cash crops and traditional community livelihoods. Currently, she is a Network Associate with Generation Enterprise, an international non-profit based in Lagos, Nigeria and Delhi, India dedicated to assisting marginalized youth receive the business skill training and confidence they need to start sustainable, high-growth potential businesses. Cassie's passion for social innovation and food security is driven by the fundamental power of good food to nourish the individual, build community, and bring us all to the same table.

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5 thoughts on “Rakkar Road

  1. Love your photos, especially the one of the man sitting on his roof! Looks like cold and gorgeous sunshine and blue skies over in Dharmasala! Miss you.

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