J&K – New Delhi – Toronto – New York, Thursday: Erratic climatic conditions and excessive snow has been killing Pashmina goats in the Indian Himalayas, threatening supplies of precious silky wool used to make warm and luxurious lightweight cashmere apparel. These goats are reared by thousands of nomads in the hostile terrain of Ladakh, a high-altitude desert renowned for its dramatic landscape of towering mountains and arid plains. In 2012 about 25000 goats died of starvation, because their fodder and grass got buried under a thick layer of snow for months, a direct impact of climate change across the Himalayan belt.
The Pashmina Eco-System (Pashmina goats, shepherds, yarn weavers, manufacturers, crafts men and women and buyers) is under threat of destruction and requires global attention. The communities linked to this eco-system are reducing at an alarming rate, facing the impacts of climate change and the pressures of urbanization across Himalayas displacing everyone and forcing them to pursue other ways of earning their livelihood. In an endeavour to sensitise the global audiences about the challenges faced by this eco-system, KASHMIRINK Foundation that owns and operates the Pashmina Goat Project www.pashminagoat.com from the past several years has been hosting art exhibitions, fashion shows, press conferences, talks and interactions with the stakeholders to raise awareness of the ongoing situation and to celebrate the Pashmina goats and their crucial role in the eco-system.
The foundation runs a three point program:
1. Promotion and preservation of the Pashmina goats and the shepherds
2. Awareness about fake Pashmina, which is detrimental to the real Pashmina Industry and discouraging shepherds and weavers to continue to remain linked the eco-system.
3. Creation of a global luxury social brand that represents and enhances the lives of the community of over a million strong community of shepherds, weavers and crafts men and women that are linked with the Pashmina Eco-System in Himalayas.
The global demand for pure and authentic Pashmina requires that awareness events be hosted globally, especially in over 100 countries that import Pashmina, to spread awareness. The foundation in this endeavour has crafted a Goodwill Ambassador Program for celebrities and sensitive individuals to become the voice for the project. The core committee members of the foundation are currently accepting and screening profiles for many countries to bring on board sensitive individuals who can become the voice of the foundation in their respective countries.
The committee today approved Ashlee Monroe, a young mother, a star women entrepreneur and a TV show host with exceptional communication skills and a diplomatic flare as a Goodwill Ambassador (GA) for this project. She is a well-known individual in Canada, who will serve as a “Honorary Diplomat” to gather support from large organizations, corporate, institutions and individuals from across the world. Ms. Monroe will help to bring awareness about the challenges faced by the eco-system and represent the Foundation’s initiative to larger groups for the purpose of building friendly, cooperative and mutually beneficial relationships that will be beneficial to the Project. In association with the founder, Babar Afzal, who is now, one of the most credible voice on Pashmina in Asia, Ms. Monroe will host social functions, donate, host fund raisers, fashion shows and lobby corporate for the welfare of the Pashmina Eco-System to help attract International support to the project. Ashlee has a strong influence of Himalayas throughout her life and is passionate to propagate the foundation’s program globally. Her enthusiasm to contribute to the world, especially to Himalayas, will help the foundation build support and goodwill across America. She is actively involved with the foundation and is in process of launching multiple activities and awareness campaigns and lead the initiative in Canada and New York .
The ambassador vows to work selflessly and as mandated by the foundation, will not associate with any Pashmina manufacturer or marketer and not endorse any corporate brand for any direct or indirect, personal commercial benefit. In contemporary culture, pashmina has been present since the beginning of the luxury fashion industry. She explained that, Pashmina goats are the root of luxury, as the wool from the goat, also known as “pashm” has been used for thousands of years to make shawls that were crafted intricately and presented to kings and queens as priced possessions. The foundation’s goal is to integrate the project into New York and Paris, as they are the fashion capital of the world. The project requires support from the fashion elite to help boost awareness to the world fashion industry about the Pashmina Eco-system. As this is a truly global campaign that has a deep rooted connection with fashion and luxury globally, the Foundation is looking for sensitive global brands, organizations to understand this project and extend support to the foundation by becoming annual and lifetime donors and sponsors under various categories.
ABOUT PASHMINA GOAT PROJECT
Babar Afzal, is the founder of the Pashmina Goat Project www.pashminagoat.com and is a celebrated Himalayan Abstract Artist who hand paints exclusive pashmina shawls and stoles. He has hosted several fashion shows himself as “A Tribute to the Pashmina Goats” and has his exclusive collections of Art dedicated to the Pashmina Goats, making it into the House of Shri. Pranab Mukharjee, The Hon’ble President of India, Shri. Hamid Ansari, The Hon’ble Vice President of India and Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, The Former President of India. Babar in addition to being the architect to this global project has triggered and continues to fight the biggest battle against fake pashmina that is destroying the Eco-system and also continues to pose questions through his Abstract Art to sensitize the viewers about Pashmina Goats and the Impact of Climate Change in Himalayas. The highly educated artist and techie turned activist and shepherd, quit his high flying global career 6 years back and moved back into Himalayan villages to understand and address the pain points of the communities in Himalayas that are facing the challenges posed by climate change and is now an authority on Pashmina in Asia.