Beaconsfield resident, Lisa Garfinkle, loves adventure. She knew at a very early age that her passion for the outdoors, which included trekking, rock climbing, cycling, and caving, would lead her to something special.
“I had lots of interests, but I was looking for something to grab” said Garfinkle.
At age 17, Lisa signed up for an Outward Bound survival course in Northern Ontario. She was asked to teach several months after her arrival.
“The ultimate reward was working with kids at risk and building trust, and get them excited about learning” added Lisa.
Her compensation was a transfer to the Outward Bound School in Lesotho, South Africa. The next 18 months had Garfinkle as a group leader, who taught survival skills to the different tribes, races, religions, and cultures. Said Garfinkle “I think I was the one who learned the most-about human nature”
Venkatesh M. Raghavendra, an Indian collegue, in Lethosa, persuaded Lisa to join the Adventurers Wilderness School, an affiliation of the Outward Bound group in Bangalore, India, after being accepted for a teaching position.
“My friends and family members thought I was crazy at first. They felt it was all too dangerous. And, sure, some ask why poor people in India would possibly need a wilderness survival school” recalled Lisa. “The outdoors is not just the domain of the rich. I don’t fancy myself the wise Westerner trying to lead the way. I’m not looking to control anything. My interest is solely to train others in India to take my job. Then, I can go on and see the world”
The Adventurers are lead by Swamy SLN, The Founding President, Nomito Kamdar, Raghaventra, and Garfinkle, who serves as the international coordinator, who are situated in the Western Ghats of India.
The Western Ghats run parallel to the West Coast of peninsular India, stretching nearly 1400 kilometers from Gujarat, in the north, to Tamil Nadu in the South, running through Maharastra, Goa, Karnataka, and Kerala.
Their goal is an ambitious, desperately needed venture to save this unique, hilly rain forest that used to cover 62 000 square kilometers.
The Adventurers take on a different approach to most conservation agencies, which focus primarily on the wilderness, paying little attention to the inhabitants of the region. The group tries to involve villagers who need and understand the jungle. They also work on introducing the wonders of the natural world to visitors all around India.
Garfinkle’s work includes running programs to suit different needs, teaching leadership skills, special programs for street kids, the physical handicapped, and the corporate sector. “She has given the Adventurers an international outlook and stature” declares Swamy, the mainstay of the program.
The Adventurers have built 25 “campuses”, across the Western Ghats. These campuses are complete with labs and medical centers. Garfinkle is proud that the line up now employs 40 full time staff, with many of them from a tribal background.
Sitting in the comforts of her Beaconsfield home, Lisa’s eyes glitter with the thought of her twelve year, life changing journey to South Africa, India, and back home.
Lisa’s journey can be discussed by email; firstname.lastname@example.org