An interview with Tashi and Nungshi co-founders of: NUNGSHITASHI FOUNDATION (NTF)
May is Everest season and for this month we are taking the opportunity to hear from Tashi and Nungshi Malik, co-founders of NungshiTashi Foundation (NTF) who have successfully completed the Adventurers Grand Slam (Climbed the 7 summits & reached the north and south poles). We will hear about how NTF originated, issues they are encountering and future initiatives using mountaineering/outdoor sports to empower young girls and women and promote social change.
(Photographer: Kamal Sharma)
1) How and when did NungshiTashi Foundation organization come about? What was the inspiration behind it?
NungshiTashi Foundation (NTF) was founded in 2015, to foster outdoor spirit among youth, especially girls and women to promote empowerment through self-awareness, leadership and outdoor livelihoods.
Adventure tourism is a growing industry in Uttarakhand and all Himalayan states. On the other hand, there is an alarming ‘economic migration’ from the greater Himalayan regions to the plains, making girls and women especially vulnerable to exploitation and human trafficking. According to the Ministry of Women and Child Development, nearly 20,000 women and children were trafficked in India in 2016. And because we know how empowering climbing, mountaineering, and other outdoor adventures are, we want to make an impact. We strongly believe in the undisputed power of outdoors in developing self-awareness among individuals, which is an essential first hallmark of good leaders. Outdoors installs a strong sense of ‘the world around us’ and our interdependence and inter-linkages with nature. In a sense, outdoors make us spiritual which translates into ‘mindful living’.
Through these initiatives we empower girls through mountaineering and outdoor adventure especially targeting India’s Himalayan regions. By skill building in running small entrepreneurship for livelihoods in various areas of mountaineering and outdoor adventure and giving employment. “Outdoors are very essential for development of certain positive personality traits in students which are not possible in the protected academic environment. This aspect has now been realized by the renowned schools and colleges of our country who now want to regularly expose their students to outdoor education and learning for holistic development of students. The foundation aims to emerge as pioneering institution for such training in India.
2) What are your vision/goals for the foundation?
We envision an ‘Outdoor Community’ with equal and active participation of girls where they all have the opportunity to set their sights high and reach their highest potential. Empowered girls make for a peaceful and a progressive world. We want to inspire next generation of girls to reach their wildest dreams by embracing the importance of outdoors.
(Photographer: Jaron Johns)
3) There is a range of social issues each country/society encounters. What issue(s) inspired the foundation to address through sports and were other sports involved?
India is still a predominantly agricultural nation where socio-culturally boys are preferred over girls, there is epidemic level of female foeticide and infanticide, incalculable obstacles in the path of the girl child and yet whenever any girl achieves something big, especially at global level, the whole nation celebrates. For Indian girls, climbing a big mountain is more about making a powerful gender statement, and it has an immense social impact.
(Photographer: Jaron Johns)
4) What are some of the issues/constraints you as founders, women, and leaders in your sport are facing and issues your foundation is also facing?
We have seen first-hand the extreme heights of what women are capable of gaining. Now along with our dad, we are tackling a more complex problem. Unfortunately, in India, adventure sports, and particularly mountaineering, are still in a nascent stage with little support for development. So, we are lobbying for funding to make it more mainstream, while at the same time going into villages and towns to inspire young women with our life story. And we're building a program that will teach young women the skills they need to work in the outdoor industry.
(Photographer: Jaron Johns)
5) If you can give any advice for new organizations that decide to follow your step what would it be?
PASSION + SELF BELIEF + MENTAL STRENGTH = MT. EVEREST. In this case = SUCCESS.
6) Is there anything else you would like to address regarding your foundation?
Like we said earlier, our work for the girl child will be implemented through our foundation. We will select girls from remote mountain villages, train them in mountain guiding, trekking guides and camp managers. They will get assured livelihoods with their skills. We are also using every forum and media to send the message of gender equality and the fight against female feticide. Additionally, we deliver gender-related talks at schools and social forums to directly appeal to parents and stakeholders to change their ‘angle of vision’ and see the girl child as a most trusted source of love, joy, progress, and strength. We know that thousands of parents (and the girls themselves) have been immensely inspired by our story. In due course, we also plan to design memorabilia (T-shirts, coffee mugs, calendars and other utility souvenirs with gender themes) to spread awareness and pride in the girl child and raise money for our mission.
Thank you for this fantastic piece!