Updates to the Dharma Yatra:
Changes to How we Volunteer on the Yatra and Information about the Coronavirus.
Changes to how we Volunteer––Introducing 'Cooperatives'
This year we wish to improve some aspects of how we communally create the Dharma Yatra. Don’t worry, we will still be doing as much walking in silence as always!
However, as you know, on the Dharma Yatra participants are needed to help run the community. This means we all need to offer our time and energy by doing tasks and jobs (like helping in the kitchen and site) for the common good. Rather than having a large complicated sign up sheet for all the tasks, we plan to create small ‘collaboration teams’ of around 6-10 people, and ask each team (which we are calling a ‘cooperative’) to collectively take on a selection of tasks.
In practice: when you arrive to the Dharma Yatra you will be given a place in one of the ‘cooperatives’. Your ‘cooperative’ will be responsible for a variety of duties (e.g. dish washing on day 3, cooking on day 5, site management on day 7 etc.). Each cooperative will include participants from a wide range of backgrounds, ages, and abilities. The Dharma Yatra remains flexible and attentive, so if there are any difficulties filling all of the tasks and jobs assigned to a ‘cooperative’ we will be able to find alternative solutions.
We hope belonging to a core group of people will bring a series of benefits. For our community this could enhance the feeling of interconnectedness and welcome, helping us all to feel more at ‘home’. Structurally, we hope this ‘bottom-up’ approach will feel more liberating and empowering as we collectively create the Dharma Yatra together.
If this sounds complicated, don’t worry, everything will be explained when you arrive! It’ll all be part of our wonderful Yatra adventure!
Update on Coronavirus (COVID-19):
We are monitoring the Coronavirus situation carefully. It is difficult to know how the situation will look in July. We acknowledge we may need to cancel. If we are forced to cancel because of the policy of the French government or common sense in respect of a ‘force majeure’ we hope to be able to do this with plenty of notice. If we cancel all participants who have paid their registration fee (deposit) to the Dharma Yatra will be offered a refund.
Reminder and Update on the Details of Previous Changes
A plant-based diet for the Yatra
Changing our diet is one of the most immediate and effective ways we can alter our impact in the world. For environmental and compassionate reasons we have decided to make the Dharma Yatra a plant-based event.
We acknowledge that giving up something we are used to may be a challenge for some of us. But we equally anticipate that we can all lean into this stretch, and for many of us the apparent difficulty will soon disappear. More compassion in our diet, can bring more happiness to our hearts and minds, lessening the weight of guilt and greed.
Information on bringing children to the yatra
Each year we welcome a number of children to the yatra. For many of us, having children participating in the Yatra is a fundamental part of what makes the Yatra so special. However, although bringing your children to the yatra can be a wonderful experience, it can also be challenging at times. The program is full and conditions are basic. We want to ask you to take the following information into consideration before you register so you can decide if this is the kind of adventure you want for yourself and your children.
During the yatra we live out in nature in very basic conditions. We sleep in tents and change camp every 2-3 days. Toilets are just a hole in the ground and buckets of cold water are the showers. Some of the campsites are shady, others may have more sun and can be hot during the days. Also if it rains we generally spend our days outside and continue our walks.
Arriving at the yatra
We ask families arriving with their own transport to arrive early on the starting day of the yatra so you can meet with the children co-ordinators. As soon as possible, we will take time to have a meeting with all the families so that all the children and all the parents can start to get to know each other.
During the yatra we are happy that our community includes children. As a parent/caretaker you are responsible for your child(ren), yet the family coordinators will help you to connect with other parents, and people who volunteer to look after children. It is good to realize that the yatra is not like a children’s camp or a family focused event in which you can expect to take full leave of your responsibility as a parent/caretaker. If you come as a single parent/caretaker with more than one child we advise you to consider bringing a friend as support.
Walking and activities for children
Generally all the children walk (or are carried) in the morning. There is the option for children to go by minibus to the campsite in the afternoon, with as many adults as are needed. Since the minibus can only take 8 people at a time there are times that you will need to wait before you and your child can be taken to the campsite.
There will be some non-parent volunteers to go with any children who are happy to be without a parent/caretaker. Usually there will be several people who offer creative activities for the children both during the afternoon and in the evenings. We will also try to offer children's yoga and meditation.
Children who need to be carried
We can ask for volunteers as once the yatra is underway there are generally people who are very happy to carry small children when needed for portions of the walk.
Please really make sure that children of all ages have suitable clothing and footwear for all weather conditions including heatwave, rain and colder weather. The weather can be very, very changeable. Everybody definitely needs waterproofs, sun-hats and sun protections.
Meals and snacks
Food is cooked in a simple field kitchen by our wonderful kitchen team, they provide healthy vegan food. Please note that since they are cooking for a huge number of people it is not possible to provide special meals for children. Unfortunately it is not possible for the parents to use the kitchen to cook meals for their children.
The meals are nourishing and wholesome. In terms of snacks, the yatra provides fruit for everybody for during the morning walk. Back at camp in the afternoons there are snacks for children, such as rice-cakes, fruit and basic biscuits. Sometimes there will be 'treats' for the children but if your child(ren) get very hungry or expect more 'treats' it would be a really good idea to bring a supply of your own.
We need a certain amount of car-seats for when children are being transported back to camp in the afternoon. If you are coming by car and are happy to offer your car-seat(s) for general use please let the family coordinators know when you arrive at the Yatra.
Contribution and Dana
In terms of the cost of children at the Yatra, it might be suprising to know that the daily running costs of a child on the Yatra are as high as an adult (in some cases actually higher). We add this information because we have recieved feedback from parents asking for more clarity with respect to contribution/dana and their children. As always, we do not ask each person to pay the same amount as we wish to make the Yatra accessible to all. In addition to contributing towards the shared expenses, you are also welcome and encouraged to support the work of the organisers and facilitators through offering Dana (donations) to them. This can be done in advance or at the end of the Yatra.