Mission & Vision of ECTA

MISSION: To foster holistic health throughout the Himalayan region by training, equipping, and apprenticing dedicated community partners.

VISION: That all can be born into love, live in hope, and die with dignity.

This is our story.

In 2003, the founders of what would become ECTA, Ryan and Amanda Phillips, traveled to a remote village in the Indian Himalaya in the Darjeeling District. They had hopes of fortifying trails to the remotest areas to improve travel for those walking hours for commerce, education, and health needs. What happened in the following years was an evolution of understanding. They saw that to truly improve the living situation for those in the most underserved regions, one could not simply fix one aspect of life. They moved to the village and learned about how families survived, how they met their daily needs and what was missing.

In the first year, they saw many children struggling to pass exams that allowed them a further education. They walked alongside a local group of men and women that wanted better education options in their village and started Red Star Academy.

They saw students getting sick, dying of simple disease and ailments. People were unable to access medical treatment, medicines, and vaccinations. Nearly every family had a mother or child lost to childbirth. Simple things that Ryan and Amanda had taken for granted. All the while they could access the great medical care for themselves just because they held the right passport.

After the birth of their first son, Amanda trained as a midwife and Ryan as wilderness EMT. They raised money to have 3 women from the village trained as health workers and built a health care center, stocked with needed medicine, bandages and a clean place to birth.

This was the start of a large snowball of needs to be met. This wasn't the only village in need. small villages throughout the district needed the same facilities. They also needed safe and timely transport to higher level health care during emergencies.

In 2009, ECTA was established. The mission of ECTA was to foster holistic health throughout the Himalayan region by training, equipping and apprenticing dedicated community partners. They wanted to train enough people that the villages could care for their needs and not have to rely on outside help.

Within one year, ECTA had bought and stocked the first of the ambulance fleet, to be affectionately named the Donkey. Soon after, health worker training started in a joint effect with Himserve, a local nonprofit in the region.

Fast-forward to today: ECTA runs 5 ambulances, one of which is on call 24/7 for pregnant mothers at the time of delivery. Over 275 health workers have been trains, with monthly reporting and refresher classes. Thousands of people have been transported to the hospital in emergencies or to receive higher level care for chronic ailments. Over 30 individuals receive a livable wage through ECTA. And in September of 2018, ECTA sent 2 local individuals to medical school. These students will return after their studies to provide compassionate, quality medical care to their area.

ECTA is amazed at the work a few dedicated communities can do to change their health outlook. We look forward to engaging in partnerships with communities that lack health care access, to work toward resilience.

What does ECTA mean?

ECTA is a slightly changed spelling of a Nepali word "Ekta"  which means oneness. It is the idea that many chords wound together cannot be easily broken. That a large forest of trees is stronger than a single sapling. But is it also an acronym: Empowering Communities to Transcend Adversity.  This embodies our desire for ECTA, to be an empowering organization, to light the flame that will burn for generations.



Ryan Phillips

Co-founder, past Executive Director, Board of Directors

Amanda Phillips

Co-founder, past Board of Directors, Current Executive Director

Linda Phillips

Board of Directors member, Financials and Accounting

Dr. William Watson

Board of Directors member

Dr. Stanley Dyck

Chair of Board of Directors

Dr. Janet Black

Board of Directors member, Secretary

Our Partners:

HIMserve works throughout the Darjeeling District and is addressing the region's most pressing needs. It offers training in agriculture, animal husbandry, holistic health, Child-to-child education, micro-enterprise and much more!

HIMserve seeks to find solutions within the community itself rather than importing solutions from outside. The organization works in a few basic tenets:

  1. Communities must be unified to grow.
  2. A united community must learn to serve its members.
  3.  a unified community of service will progress towards self-sustainability.

HIMserve provides communities with its "Holistic Teaching" as a foundation on which a Village Development Committee (VDC) is established. The VDC then decides for itself what the community needs and forms an Action Plan to achieve its goals.

ECTA partners with HIMserve for Ambulance serves, Health worker training and any health-related programs.

Red Star Social Club, named after a local orchid,  started out organizing sporting events in their village of Daragaon. Shortly after Ryan and Amanda Phillips met RSSC members, the group turned its energy towards transforming their community.

The first project involved reconstructing all of the trains which linked the remote village to the bazaar of Rimbick and the neighboring state of Sikkim. Next, they focused on education. Several members of the club had gone to college but were unemployed. the government primary school was in disrepair, ill-equipped, and dysfunctional. Together with the Phillips the club and community set out to build and establish Red Star Academy with locally donated labor and land with the addition of $300 in hand.

Red Star didn't stop there. The need for basic health services was critical. The village's nearest access to reliable health care was a 2-hour walk and 5-hour drive away. In 2006, three local women were sent to train as paramedics at Hayden Hall in Darjeeling. At the same time, Ryan and Amanda trained in the US, learning Primary Health Care and Midwifery, in order to disseminate the knowledge to the community and to better understand how to help. The community donated land, sawed timbers by hand from local logs, carried sand in baskets from the river, and broke larger rocks into gravel. The residents of this community donated 1,400 days of free labor. Along with this, the community was given $3,000 for tiles, nails and paint,  as well as medicine, bandages and furniture for the newly established Daragaon Samajik Swastya Kendra (Daragaon Social Health Center) in 2007.

And still, the local educated individuals set out to volunteer their days to teaching young children in the village. In 2009, ECTA decided that these selfless individuals deserve compensation so they can remain in their position and provide for their families. ECTA supports the staff of both the school and the health center with a livable wage.


Join with us in this vision.