Kipepeo: How Piran Elavia is removing apprehensions associated with North East India via travel
Travel has meant a lot to many people and has changed the course of lives for them as well. The net is full of tales of inspiration derived from travel and it is one feeling of joy which is felt without any man-made boundaries. One such traveler who is doing his own bit make the earth a better place is Piran Elavia from Mumbai.
Piran took a Sabbatical in 2008 to volunteer with an NGO in Sikkim. He volunteered with them for two months and this got him really involved in the project. The work he was doing gave him a feeling of satisfaction and he went back to Mumbai to quit his job, wrap up things and shift his base to the North East. Taking me through the initial days, Piran describes,
Through this network I met with some other people working on various projects in North East India, but the one I found most interesting was a project with the Bodo community. Thus in December 2008 I embarked into muddy waters, a bit apprehensive and afraid into the Bodo areas of Assam. But for me this turned out to be a life changing experience, for when I actually reached things were completely different than what I had heard. We have always read that the Bodos are a very violent and blood thirsty community but I found them to be amazingly friendly and warm hearted people. I worked with the local NGO name Manas Maouzigendri Tourism Society (MMES) for 4 months teaching computers to school kids and helping the NGO manage their small tourism camp. During this period I learnt a lot about the Bodos and was amazed to find how well they had moved on with their lives after their armed struggle. My work with this stoic community made me think about doing something for the Bodos and other North Eastern tribes at large.
Piran volunteered in the North East for close to two years and gained a lot of exposure into the area. Wanting to do more, he then started up a responsible tourism venture Kipepeo (lyrical name of the 'Butterfly' in Swahili language) with a couple of motives:
1) To actively involve the local communities in the tourism process so as to assist them economically and socially.2) To showcase to the outside world this beautiful albeit misunderstood region of India.
Making money is never the prime motive in such ventures but a business has to be sustainable. Kipepeo offers fixed departure trips as well as customized tours and has catered to approximately 36 groups equating to 150 people in the last three years. The business made a marginal profit in the 3rd year of operation which ended in May 2013. A team of 3 people as of now, the strength of Kipepeo lies in the connections it has in the region and the know-how about the North East which in general is lacking.
Currently generating leads via word of mouth and engagement on social media, Piran has a vision to bridge the gap between the North East India and the outside world.
Read more about Kipepeo and don't hesitate to plan your next trip to the beautiful North East India.