Name: Russell Collins
Role with HRS: Director / Designer / Chief Rocketeer
DOB: 20 May 1970 (current age: 46)
Country of Birth/Nationality: Australia
Personal history pertaining to India and the Himalayas:
I have been coming to the Indian Himalayas since 1992, when I was amongst the first group of non-locals to travel into and through Spiti Valley. At that time I made a fortunate connection with the Abbott of Tabo Monastery, Geshe Sonam Wangdui and his secretary Zangpola, and began the process of sponsoring monks in the monastery. As a result of this connection, I ended up organising sponsorship for all the monks of Tabo Monastery (approx 33 in total) and arranged for funds to be delivered to the monastery on many occasions. This sponsorship program continues to this day, now managed by a friend in Australia.
During a stay in Tabo in 2003, Geshela asked me to help organise funding for the newly established culturally appropriate Serkong School that Geshela had set up in Tabo. I spent some time writing letters and was able to help secure a large grant from an American donor. I also set up a comprehensive sponsorship program for the school which also continues to operate.
As a result of an interest in eco-architecture for the Spiti climate, I undertook a study tour to Ladakh with a French architect in 2003 and visited various ecological institutions in and around the capital Leh. As a result, I came up with the concept of an Eco-Educational Tour for children studying at the Serkong School in Tabo. This tour has been running nearly every year since 2004, and to date, every student at the school has been able to come to Ladakh to experience and deepen the connections between these two regions prior to graduation from the Serkong School.
In my capacity as a tour organiser, I have been travelling in and around the Indian Himalayas since 1992, and almost every year since 2003. I have had a keen interest in Tibetan Buddhism since my first years in the region and have attended numerous teachings by HH Dalai Lama. I have a long held interest in ethical and ecological tourism in the Himalayas, and have been involved in various ecological projects in Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh.
I first heard about Rocket Stoves in conversation with Sonam Wangchuk (co-founder of the inspirational SECMOL institution) about 3 years ago, and since then have been exploring the concept in both theory and practice in India and Australia. I have built and tested many prototypes in Australia and Ladakh, before settling on a version that I feel is a successful model that addresses the needs of the Himalayas whilst remaining true to the diverse cultural contexts of the region.