Thank you for your continuing generosity for sustainability of Altai's culture and environment.
One of our long-term initiatives has been to foster cottage-industry cooperatives in the villages. Last summer, a plum dropped in our laps. Here's the story:
I was trekking back toward the village of Tyungur with three members of our international expedition, to join up with the rest of the group. We were still a full day's trek from Tyungur when we camped for the night.
As I went to sleep, I suddenly had a powerful sense that it was crucially important that I be back in Tyungur early in the morning. The only way that could happen would be for an empty vehicle to come along this dirt track, heading into the village from an entirely unpopulated area. Since this was totally unlikely, I envisioned the optimum -- a flat-bed truck that would also carry everybody's backpacks, so, while I rode, at least they would have an easy walk.
To my amazement, at 7am, just as I climbed out of our tent, exactly such a truck appeared. I ran after it shouting, and the driver agreed to take me and our packs into the village, patiently waiting ten minutes while we sorted out the day's food and clothing, and packed up everything else, including a huge bag of cans and bottles from the campsite.
In answer to my inquiry as to how he happened to show up, he said he owned a small tourist base that we had passed the day before on the trail; he only advertised by word of mouth, because registering a business was beyond his financial means; there are numerous other small tourist bases near Tyungur village, which are also in the same situation. Knowing that most of the tourist money that came into Tyungur immediately went out again in profits to the St. Petersburg owners of the big local tourist base, I volunteered the services of our master universe-mover Svetlana Katynova, to help them organize a cooperative, just like she had done for other groups locally.
The driver took me and the packs past Tyungur, all the way to the children's camp where the group was staying, but he kept the garbage to dispose of it himself.
Svetlana agreed to help with the co-op, but we need $2000 for the legal/registration fees as well as Svetlana's transportation between Tyungur, where the agreements must be made, and Gorno-Altaisk, where the co-op must be registered. In anticipation of receiving the funding, the organizing in Tyungur has begun.
And was I actually urgently needed in Tyungur? When I arrived, people came rushing out to the road to tell me that one of our group had had problems with her border access permit and was stranded at the checkpoint two hours away. They had been sending me telepathic messages since the evening before, which apparently both the truck-driver and I received! So I immediately caught a bus to the checkpoint and rescued her.
Are YOU receiving OUR telepathic message to fund this indigenous-owned cooperative? If so, thank you!!!
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