About us

Our beginning

In August 1992, Aarohi was founded by Oona Sharma and Dr Sushil Sharma, a rural manager and a doctor, respectively. With previous experience of social work in the area, they knew that life in the mountains was uncertain and difficult; terrain increased hardships; health suffered and income options were few. This motivated them to create Aarohi and support development of self-sustaining and independent mountain communities.

Conceptually the organization was inspired by ‘Aarohi’ – the ascending classical music scale; the growth of thought, creativity and harmony. Reaching out and building a more equitable mountain society, Aarohi wanted to empower the ordinary mountain family in as many ways as possible.

Early Years

The first step in 1992 led the founders and few associate workers to long meetings with villagers to figure out the type of development needed. They worked to introduce pilot initiatives and waited. Microplans were made for four villages to assess and define their needs.

Exciting experiments in cold press extraction of apricot kernel oil and growing of certain herbs led to marketing success. The organization had 49 members, and a fine enthusiastic team of 14 men and women. The Aarohi Arogya Kendra was started in Peora with an OPD, a pharmacy, a laboratory and two beds. Carrying the spirit of the local people with them, Aarohi went ahead hoping that the people would always be the catalyst for responsible change.


Aarohi’s two-decade journey has been one of trials and tribulations but full of excitement and growth. Sleepy Satoli, its headquarter, has transformed into a buzzing node of positive grassroots action. Work extends through Nainital,

Almora and Bageshwar districts and activities relate primarily to Health Care, Education, Livelihoods and Energy and Forest Management. By consistent engagement, Aarohi has touched the lives of over 50, 000 people till date. Today, the organization employs 68 full-time staff, and is supported by 295 members from all over the world. It operates actively in 57 villages, containing a population of some 35,000.

The area and the people...

Aarohi works in the temperate and sub-tropical mountain region, between 1000-3000 meters above mean sea level in Kumaon, Uttarakhand.

Uttarakhand is one of the fastest growing states in India but also one of the poorest. More than three-quarters of Uttarakhand’s total population is still dependent on subsistence farming for their livelihood and there are few commercial and industrial enterprises to support large scale employment in the interior mountainous regions. Due to lack of alternate livelihood options, subsistence farming is supplemented with some cash crops and wage labour is common.

The males of the family often migrate to the plains in search of menial labour work, leaving the women behind to not only look after the family but the farms as well. As a result women are often overworked and undernourished and suffer from poor health.

In addition, ignorance and superstitions, social taboos, low standard of education, low sanitation awareness and lack of social security add to the poor living conditions for women and children, in particular. Shrinking forest cover and pasture land; acute seasonal water scarcity and lessening natural resources are also growing concerns in the region.

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