About the Spiti Projects

The Charity was set up by Joan Pollock in 1993. Joan started her career as a nurse and later moved onto the Travel business in the 1980s. In 1992 Joan was in visiting Manali, Himachel Pradesh, India. During her stay, a Doctor from the Lady Willingdon Hospital invited her to a slide show at the hospital on the Spiti Valley.

The valley had been closed to the outside world since 1959. Joan was overwhelmed by the beauty of this isolated valley and concerned to see the desolation of the people. When asked if she would help to raise money to build a hospital in Kaza, she was delighted and became totally committed to helping to improve the health, hygiene and general wellbeing of the local people of the valley.

Since then the charity has successfully built a Mission Hospital, Mane Village School and Mane Village Clinic. We have also set up a Child Sponsorship Scheme, a Mud Brick Project, and Knit for Spiti, creating opportunities for communities to get involved and participate in helping Spiti Projects grow.

Meet Our Team

Joan Pollock in Spiti
Joan Pollock - Founder / Chair

Joan Pollock, a travel guide since 1977, has traversed the globe, documenting her journey through photography. Based in London, she embraces a nomadic lifestyle. Joan captures the essence of people, life, and cultures, forging connections with tribes and communities. Her nursing background enables her to provide occasional health checks, particularly for children, ingraining herself further within the communities she encounters.

As a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society, Joan is committed to environmental and conservation causes. Her passion extends to Spiti, a stunning valley on the Tibetan Plateau in the Indian Himalayas, her spiritual haven. In 1993 Joan established Spiti Projects, a charity dedicated to enhancing the valley's health, hygiene, and general well-being. Her efforts have resulted in the construction of a hospital, school, and clinic. In 2015, a traditional mud-brick Community Centre, powered by solar energy, was inaugurated in Kaza, the valley's capital. Recognising its eco-friendly design, the United Nations Climate Change Conference honoured Spiti Projects with the Low Carbon award in 2016.

Joan's thirst for exploration continues as she leads tours to unconventional destinations, accompanying intrepid travellers. She looks forward to venturing to Kazakhstan and visiting remote nomadic communities in the upcoming year.

Joan's qualifications include RSCN and SRN (Registered Sick Children's Nurse), as well as being a Qualified Nurse, Tour Guide, City of London Guide and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

Ysanne Lewis Trustee
Ysanne Lewis - Trustee

I have been self employed for 42 years helping people in many countries through my work as an astrologer, counsellor and timing adviser. I am a speaker and published author and having a background in the performing arts helped. I live in Guildford, Surrey, near the rolling north downs hills and town.

I have always seen myself as an explorer of this lovely planet and in helping people explore their lives and pathway.

In 2018 I went to Spiti with Joan and Margaret and Vicky. It had always been a big dream of mine to go to the Himalaya and, to combine this with offering my help, was this dream coming true! I also went to South India with Joan later that year.

I sponsor a little girl in Spiti to help with her education.

Spiti spoke to my heart. I felt such a closeness with its people and customs and mountains. I shall always be grateful for this opportunity to travel there and to help where and how I can.

Emma Hamel - Trustee

I am a Wellness Coach, creator of websites and work to help people to perform at their very best with my company High Performance People. My passion in life is people.

I moved to Cape Town in 2010, met my husband and stayed for 9 years before heading back to the UK with family in tow to support my family on this side. I currently live with my husband, Grant, our dog, Shadow and Misty our cat.

I came across the Spiti Project through Ysanne, (who I have known since the early 2000's) and loving listening to the details of the trips to Spiti and how it had touched Ysanne's heart and soul.

I am delighted to be a trustee and work alongside Joan, and honoured to be making a difference to the people of Spiti.

Margaret Ring - Volunteer

I have worked in the charity sector for well over 20 years and during this time have undertaken various roles, including Volunteer Management, Project Management and even a stint as an interim CEO! (I didn't really enjoy it, as I much prefer to be 'hands on'!) I am currently working as the Communications Manager for a Social Enterprise working with marginalised women's groups in India.

I live in London with my husband and son and enjoy city life! India is a passion of mine and I have been lucky enough not only to visit on a number of occasions, but to have been employed by and volunteered for some amazing charities, doing some impressive and impactful work in this vibrant country - not least Spiti Projects!

I have known of Spiti Projects for a number of years and travelled to the Spiti Valley with Joan and Vicky in 2018. I was bowled over, not only by the beauty of the valley but also by the wonderful and welcoming people. After this trip, I was delighted to become a Spiti Projects volunteer, working on communications and campaigns and am proud to play a small part in the charity.

Teena Dhanota-Jones - Volunteer

I am a matrimonial Solicitor, with in excess of 20 years' experience.

I have travelled extensively and am aware of the plight that effects indigenous communities. I bring to my role as Trustee a desire to assist and facilitate improvements for the families in Spiti.

I am focused on the educating and fund raising aspect of the charity.

I became aware of the charity a number of years ago after meeting Joan. In recent years I have searched for a charity that I connect with and have been fortunate to be accepted by Spiti.

Dalai Lama


Dalai Lama


William Dalrympal

Joanna Lumley Volunteer

The work the Spiti Projects is accomplishing is of the greatest importance to the region and of inestimable value to the people of Spiti. This glorious area has been left behind and forsaken by the modern world: Spiti Projects will help the region with educational and medical facilities which had hitherto been inaccessible in the region. I support them with all my heart!

Joanna Lumley

We are but visitors on the planet. We are here for ninety or one hundred years at the very most. During that period, we must try to do something good, something useful with our lives. If you contribute to other people’s happiness, you will find the true goal, the meaning of life.

His Holiness, The Dalai Lama
Our charity is committed to environmental and conservation issues and to helping improve the health, hygiene and general wellbeing of the people of the Spiti Valley.
64 Cardross Street, London, W6 0DR
info@spiti.org +44 (0)7721 066 761


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