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Our story so far

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The project originated in the mountains of Switzerland, France and Italy when Goran, Master camel man, shepherd and spiritual researcher began to study the Silk Road and the nomadic traditions. They lived a highly sustainable life, extremely healthy for both humans and their animal companions, and were at one time the most important cultural group. He began to research how such an important culture had become so isolated and marginalized resulting in the oppressed state of the Roma and gypsies of this time. As an animal carer he also observed how the nomadic lifestyle provides much healthier conditions for animals and land, allowing areas to regenerate and the animals to have a diverse range of fresh vegetation and food types. The beginning of Gittaohan a vision of a nomadic community with all interested people working and moving together to live a nomadic lifestyle.

Goran began to research of nomadic practices and started looking for nomadic families in Turkey with knowledge of the camel and camel caravan. At this time he was introduced to a man who was to become his teacher and would pass on to him all the knowledge of his ancestors about this life. Mustafa Urgur was the last of his line of cameleers who gave away his traditions in search of wealth. He had observed his trade and culture move from the height of importance to a non-existent way of life. Goran spent ten years researching and receiving knowledge from one of the last cameleers of Turkey. He funded this period selling organic and biological products to Europe, which were almost unobtainable at that time. Collecting many interested people to work together on this project in Turkey and Europe

In 1990 Goran headed beyond Turkey to broaden his research of nomadic traditions and their animal practices. As he Travelled through the Stans, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, enjoying the hospitality of Nomadic families he began to envisage the possibility of obtaining his own camels to emulate this style of life. He wanted to go to the Gobi desert where the Bactrian camel originates, as these were the animals of choice for traversing the Silk Route being the most adapted to long distances and diverse climates. Unfortunately due to illness and the blocking of the Chinese boarders on the Karakorum approach he had to turn back.

He headed south to India and the Rajastan desert. At Pushkar, famous for its camel trade and yearly fair, Goran tried to persuade local camel masters to share their knowledge with him. At first they weren't interested but he refused to take no for an answer and managed to raise the money to buy his first camel and a decent wage for two of Pushkar's camel masters. He convinced them to share expertise with him while he would show them how to revolutionise the local tourist trade. In these 6 months Gittaohan collected many new members and a lot of practical experience and knowledge of working with camels. He was able to leave this area improving the standard of life for these nomadic families and now able to offer a much more pleasant and culturally rich experience for the travellers that wanted to taste the mysticism of camel safaris in the desert.

At this point Goran felt confident enough to pursue his own vision. After much effort he finally tracked down a camel man in Kyrgistan who arranged for the purchase of two Bactrian camels at the border of Mongolia. This was his moment of truth alone with two untrained very powerful male Bactrians. Goran worked day and night with the camels and finally was able to demonstrate to the local camel men that they could be controlled with voice and a positive relationship, without using nose rings, sticks and shackles. The Gittaohan project officially began.

With courage he led his caravan through Kyrgistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakstan, the Ukraine, Russia, back through the Ukraine, Hungary, Croatia and Slovenia before finally coming to rest in Italy. He had completed the first part of the journey, in Europe he presented his camels as a showcase for the nomadic cultures and worked with schools and hospitals with a focus on Education and Therapy.

In a quest for more knowledge and experience Gittaohan members took the camels in the direction of Morocco a country and continent still strong in the camel traditions. Due to complications they had to wait at the border for more than a month. Rumour spread that the camel man was a descendant of Allah, protected by gods, and a sorcerer. The story spread and a television crew arrived to make a report. Shortly after, Princess Lala Fatima Zaira, daughter of King Hassan II, sent a royal invitation for the camel man to stay at a nearby palace. Gittaohan spent a month and a half as guests of the Royal family and he was offered further support in putting together an international conference on nomadic culture. Unfortunately the political climate changed following an assassination attempt on the King and the opportunity was lost. After this he continued to meet with local nomadic communities and camel men.

A return to Europe saw the death of one of the camels resulting in a further trip to Turkey and again returning to Europe Gittaohan continued there focus on Education. On his return he also planned the next trip to Asia, where he hoped to obtain a Bactrian female for breeding. As a representative of the Italia Mongolia Culture Association, Goran secured an official invite to enter Mongolia with his camel.

They set off form France, and headed through Italy, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran and into Afghanistan. At this point he received news that animal disease had broken out in Mongolia. And the next day saw the first bombs drop in Afghanistan as war broke out in late 2001. The caravan had to change course. He headed south to Pakistan where he found a new female camel, Tchini , and made their way back through Iran to Turkey.

And so Gittaohan finds itself in Turkey. Links have been established with charitable and diplomatic organisations including Rotary International and preparations are ongoing for the final return of the caravan to Europe. But due to animal disease in Europe, increased boarder controls and a step up in the complexity of quarantine legislation this is proving to be the hardest stage yet.

At this time
Gittaohan is looking to
o raise media awareness of its objectives
o raise funds through sponsorship or charitable
donation to meet the costs of transportation and
quarantine for the final stage
o find passionate collaborates who share the visions
of this group
o collect all of the most recent information
surrounds legalities of animal transportation and
o collect information about the Global rules and
controls of Animal movement along all countries of
the Silk Road
o learn, collect information and get equipment about
Global communications i.e Wirless internet, GPS ,
Satelite telephone etc

Melissa Kerl: +61 434 240 186
Goran : (+90) 0537 874 5685

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