SDGs in the Himalayas: A Solar-powered Learning Tea Community


by May East

It is possible that the next Buddha will not take the form of an individual. The next Buddha may take the form of a community, a community practicing understanding and loving kindness, a community practicing mindful living. And the practice can be carried out as a group, as a city, as a nation. Thich Nhat Hanh, “The next Buddha may be a Sangha” in Inquiring Mind, Vol 10, No. 2, Spring 1994

Surrounded by tea plantations, Darjeeling has been considered the Queen of the Hills with its backdrop of majestic snowcapped mountains, dense forests and clean rivers feeding into lush valleys. For centuries its land locked nature has supported a slow pace of growth providing.

Organised by Darjeeling Goodwill Centre, Himalayan Institute of Goodwill and Living and T’Classic Darjeeling Ltd, Gaia Education was overjoyed by the invitation to conduct one of its SDG Training for Multipliers to the Makaibari tea planting community.

Located in Kurseong subdivision of the Darjeeling district, Makaibairi sustains seven villages and over 1,500 people. Of its 1,573 acres they grow tea only on 550 acres. Following a form of integrated forest management, thousands of native trees have been planted over the decades with three rivers flowing through the state and tigers and leopards occasionally spotted in the gardens.

The training, based on a set of SDG Flashcards containing more than 200 questions structured into the four dimensions of Gaia Education’s whole systems approach to sustainability, supports communities to develop long term vision and define the next achievable steps.  The community selected #SDG4 lifelong education and #SDG7 ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all – as the key goals to pursue from now to 2030. This was synthesised in the Makaibari Vision for 2030 – A Solar-powered Learning Tea Community!

With an emerging vision framed by the SDGs international accord, the Makaibari community will keep the flame of cooperation alive while traveling the path of change. It will be, as Thich Nhat Hanh said “a community practicing mindful living”.

The workshop was conducted by May East, Gaia Education CEO, with the guest speaker Dr. Huma Masood of the UNESCO India, and the support of Fiorenza Bortolotti of Darjeeling Goodwill Centre and Himalayan Institute of Goodwill and Living Ethics and Rajah Banerjee of T’Classic Darjeeling Ltd. If you are interested in conducting a Gaia Education SDG Training of Multipliers – CPD accredited course, please contact


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