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Alanna Wallace

Planeterra Raises $100,000 in Emergency Funds for Community Tourism Relief

Non-profit raised $100,000 to support community tourism businesses affected by COVID-19 shutdowns

Earlier this week, Canadian non-profit Planeterra Foundation successfully closed their Turn Travel Into Impact from Home emergency fundraising campaign after successfully hitting their fundraising target of $100,000. The campaign was aimed at encouraging travellers who have found themselves at home due to the spread of COVID-19 to continue to make an impact on small community businesses in the tourism industry.

Planeterra Foundation has disbursed 19 emergency relief grants during this time, and will continue to evaluate and support project partners until travel resumes.

“Just because this particular fundraising campaign has closed, does not mean we are done sending grants to our partners,” says Planeterra President Jamie Sweeting. “Our team continues to support our 85 community partners worldwide, and we are reviewing grant appeals on a regular basis, with more to disburse in the coming weeks.”

Planeterra’s Turn Travel Into Impact from Home campaign was launched at the end of March, when it became clear our community partners globally were going to need support to meet their basic needs during the pandemic, and ensure their recovery when travel reemerges post-COVID. After reaching their $50,000 goal in June, Planeterra Founder and Chairman of the Board Bruce Poon Tip graciously offered to match donations for the remainder of the campaign, which helped the non-profit reach their second goal of $100,000.

“We want to thank our global community of donors for their overwhelming support when our partners needed it most, but our work is far from over,” continued Sweeting. “The Planeterra team continues to help our partners that are dealing with the various stages of the pandemic. We hope our growing community will join us as tourism and Planeterra reemerge stronger and more resilient than ever.”

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About Planeterra

Planeterra is committed to turning travel into impact by helping local communities earn an income from tourism. It is a non-profit organization created in 2003 by G Adventures’ founder, Bruce Poon Tip and was started with the purpose of connecting underserved communities to opportunities in the travel industry. Planeterra helps local organizations and communities use tourism as a catalyst to improve people’s lives, protect their natural environments, and celebrate their culture. For more information please visit www.planeterra.org

Media Enquiries

For media enquiries, please reach out to:

Alanna Wallace
Program & Communications Manager

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2019 Update from Lusumpuko Women’s Club

2019 UPDATE FROM LUSUMPUKO WOMEN'S CLUB

Since serving their first meal to international travellers in April 2018, the ladies of Lusumpuko Women’s Club in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, have continued to grow and excel at their craft while also cementing their position as a community-based organization.

The Lusumpuko Women’s Club has catered to over 3,000 G Adventures travellers and due to their success, they have begun serving even more travellers as of January 2020. The members have improved their English skills, public speaking abilities, and continued to preserve traditional Zimbabwean cooking methods and dishes.

The group has brought in an additional 10 members and their operation has expanded from a tourism service to a popular local event caterer. The ladies are also giving back to their community by serving meals on a monthly basis at the local hospital and seniors’ home.

Lusumpuko has continued to break barriers in the industry by standing alone as one of the best locally-owned service providers in Victoria Falls and they have received critical acclaim from local media for their efforts.

This is only the beginning of a new and exciting journey for the Lusumpuko Women’s Club as they continue to take back their power through the growth of their cooperative.

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Planeterra supports communities most in need as projects pivot to help tackle COVID-19 crisis

Non-profit launches ‘Turn Travel into Impact from Home’ campaign

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, halting the global tourism industry, local communities who rely on tourism for income are being severely impacted. Working with some of the most impoverished communities in the world, Planeterra Foundation is releasing emergency grants to those most in need across their 85 projects, which supports the livelihoods of 65,000 individuals globally. 

Calling on travellers and organizations around the world to offer their support, Planeterra has launched the ‘Turn Travel into Impact from Home’ campaign, with the goal of raising CAD$50,000 to help communities in immediate need. The campaign has already raised $15,000 in the past two weeks, allowing the non-profit to transfer grants to six of their partners to help support basic community needs, including food and medicine. 

Among the first to receive funding is the AidChild Leadership Institute (ALI) in Uganda, which sees 50% of their operating budgets generated by their tourism initiatives, including a cafe and guesthouse rooms. The grant was allocated immediately to provide food for the 67  HIV-positive orphans in their care.

“We are still able to continue to feed and support the children and students in our care, thanks to this invaluable, adaptable, and compassionate partnership with Planeterra,” explains ALI founder, Dr. Nathaniel Dunigan. 

Despite facing hardship, many communities are demonstrating kindness and resilience, with project members utilising their skills to offer support and services to others during the crisis. In China, the Jia Community Restaurant, which supports rural women and children by providing meaningful job opportunities, has transformed into a delivery and distribution centre for masks and thermometers for nearby villages, while in Zambia the team at Tribal Textiles, which supports local artisans outside South Luangwa National Park, are using their workshop to sew 1,500 masks for local healthcare workers. 

President of Planeterra Jamie Sweeting, says that fragile communities need the support now more than ever to ensure they are protected and can continue to offer life changing experiences when travellers return in the future.

“Our global team is working overtime to support our projects, with grants to purchase food and medicine already going out to communities in Morocco, Belize, and Botswana. We’re encouraged by projects that are helping one another and their communities, and we hope this fund will provide some relief and help to ensure jobs and organizations remain intact for when travellers inevitably return,” Sweeting continues. 

ends

 

About Planeterra

Planeterra is committed to turning travel into impact by helping local communities earn an income from tourism. It is a non-profit organization created in 2003 by G Adventures’ founder, Bruce Poon Tip and was started with the purpose of connecting underserved communities to opportunities in the travel industry. Planeterra helps local organizations and communities use tourism as a catalyst to improve people’s lives, protect their natural environments, and celebrate their culture. For more information please visit www.planeterra.org

Media Enquiries

For media enquiries, please reach out to:

Alanna Wallace
Program & Communications Manager

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TIME TO REFLECT AND CELEBRATE – PLANETERRA’S 2019 IMPACT REPORT

TIME TO REFLECT AND CELEBRATE – PLANETERRA’S 2019 IMPACT REPORT

It is with great enthusiasm that we share with you Planeterra Foundation’s 2019 Impact Report. Filled with stories of inspiration and celebration, when we began putting this report together in December, the world looked very different.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we struggled to decide how to celebrate this report, and the milestones we reached last year. Planeterra has been forced to change gears from developing and launching new travel experiences with partners, to supporting our current network of 85 project partners through the current crisis via our Turn Travel Into Impact from Home campaign, in an effort to provide small grants to help them meet basic needs like food and medicine.

While our current days are spent physically distancing in our respective homes, when we look back on 2019 we are proud of the impact we made together with our community of supporters and partners, and how our projects and partnerships grew. We want to take a moment to pause, and celebrate with you.

Looking Back

Last year was monumental for Planeterra, as we achieved our 50 in 5 goal, launched 15 new projects, and forged partnerships with new travel brands like Travelsphere and Just You. Not to mention all of the incredible stories of impact we heard – too many for a 26-page report – but we’ve highlighted a handful.

 

We want to thank you for your continued support. We look forward to weathering this storm alongside our projects, friends, family, and together as a team. When travel returns – which we know it will – we will be there to continue to grow our global impact, and we’re excited to have you along for the journey.

Stay safe,

The Planeterra Team

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HOW YOU CAN CELEBRATE THE WAY OF THE SAN

HOW YOU CAN CELEBRATE THE WAY OF THE SAN

Across Southern Africa, there are tourism experiences that promise to educate and inspire visitors about the Indigenous San – the original inhabitants of Southern Africa, and truly the original inhabitants of Planet Earth. A fascinating culture, the San are the earliest hunter-gatherers, having once lived across large areas of South Africa, Namibia, Angola, Botswana, and beyond.

As is true with most Indigenous people, their way of life, their knowledge, languages and culture have all been threatened first by colonialism, and nowadays by the legacy that colonialism has left behind – a lack of economic empowerment and opportunity, which leaves the San isolated.

Having lived in South Africa, and returning regularly in my capacity as Program Manager for Planeterra, I was well acquainted with tourism experiences – from lodges to museums – that attempted to celebrate the San.

But few have the power of Dqae Qare San Lodge. Owned freehold by the Indigenous community of D’Kar through the Kuru Development Trust, this wildlife reserve, campsite and lodge is a special and unique place. It provides full-time employment for 12 members of the D’Kar community and part-time work for over 40 more. With many in the community living on about 30 cents a day, these jobs are truly changing lives. One Dqae Qare employee is able to support a family of ten back in D’Kar.

Visiting Dqae Qare

The authenticity and power of the lodge hits visitors almost immediately. As I arrived on my first visit in February of 2018, I stepped out of my truck to find San community members bustling about the property. An employee drives past in a work vehicle filled with other employees on their way to a maintenance job near the campsite, a young San woman is setting the table under a thatched roof for dinner, and another greets me and checks me in at the lodge’s reception. I book the activities I want to partake in with her, and she happily leads me to my room. There’s a sense of purpose and passion behind every employee, and the feeling is palpable.

Later that day, I’m greeted by Dinah and Xgaiga, who take me out on a bushwalk to show me how the San have hunted, gathered food, and used the sometimes harsh Kalahari environment to their benefit. The San employees at Dqae Qare can identify more than 80 plants and their medicinal uses – it seems like every five steps we take, Xgaiga halts to point out a tree or a bush that has a practical use – this one protects you from snakes as you sleep, the bark of this tree can be boiled in water to cure colds and its leaves can be eaten to relieve a stomach ache.

In the evening, there is a storytelling and dance. Community members from nearby flood to the big bonfire in front of the lodge, and Xgaiga begins a story, told entirely in Naro. Everyone listens intently, the travellers around me lean in when Dinah starts her translation, in anticipation but also to warm ourselves by the fire. The story is about how the dog became man’s friend, while the jackal remains wild. Dancing ensues, and community members and travellers alike join in a circle around the flames.

It dawns on me how profound it is to experience the San practicing their culture, on land that they own outright themselves. Indigenous people around the world struggle to regain lands taken from them and to practice traditions that were even made illegal. It’s so important that places such as the Dqae Qare San Lodge are preserved, and helping it grow is a task Planeterra has been dedicated to since this first visit.

The prosperity of the lodge has a direct correlation with the development of the D’Kar community and the employment of its people. The more Planeterra can invest in the infrastructure of the lodge, the more profit Dqae Qare can invest straight into the community projects they’re dedicated to providing – like support for the area’s schools, churches, and even a clean water project taken on by the Kuru Development Trust. This GivingTuesday, we’re asking for support to help with upgrades to the lodge so Dqae Qare can continue to grow, employ more community members from D’Kar, and so many more travellers can enjoy learning and celebrating the way of the San.

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SAN OF THE SOIL

SAN OF THE SOIL

-by Evie Ndlovu, Planeterra Regional Representative – East and Southern Africa

“We are more than clicks and small bushmen, we are some of the original historians.” – Darren, !Khwa Ttu San

What do you know about the San? If you are like me, you know what the media has shown you, or what the school textbooks have conveyed. Are they these small people, who speak only in clicks and run in nature, barefoot with small pouches and poisonous darts? Who are these ancient people who all over Southern Africa left painting within caves? Until recently, I had no idea that the San are more than what we learn in school or watch on TV, they are the originators of civilization on our continent and possibly the first historians. It took one trip to the !Khwa ttu San Cultural and Educational Centre to convince me that I needed to know more and to listen more when it comes to the plight of the San People.

Community tourism celebrating the San

With their population diminishing rapidly due to encroachment of their land, privatization of National Parks, forced modernization, and creation of inter-country borders, the San people of Southern Africa have decided to stand up and fight for their own, in their own way. Eleven tribes stretching between Cape Town, South Africa and Angola, have come together to economically benefit one another, while also preserving their culture and passing down their history to younger generations. After decades of receiving the short end of the socio-economic stick, the San have decided to take matters in their own hands and claim what is theirs. They have come together across Southern Africa and have taken ownership and pride in their uniqueness. Coming together to create tourism experiences and services in the region that serve as income generating sources, while also educating and advocating for the survival of their cultures. Such an experience is Dqae Qare San Lodge in Botswana, part of this network of San conservancies across Southern Africa.

The San culture, in particular, is suffering as modernization has watered down the cultural pride of the younger generations and the privatization of wildlife reserves drives them further from their home. In countries like Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe, the San are bound by international boundaries that dictate they pick a side, but that is not who they are. Only a few thousand San are left in the world, with one tribe having a known three members alive today. Only three. With them, stays the whole tribal culture, language and history; and tragically, many young people of San descent have been modernized or are unaware of their genealogy due to cultural dilution caused by colonialism. They do not believe in ownership and to them, all things belong to nature and must be respected. Nature has provided them with all they need for thousands of years and today, their survival is threatened.

The San people of Southern Africa, are more than “The Gods Must Be Crazy” references and documentary stereotypes. They are the people who bore civilization on our continent. In their core, the San, an endangered people, are storytellers and conservationists. Telling stories of where we came from and protecting our nature from where we are going. In Southern Africa, the San have decided to take matters in their own hands and counter their faced disappearance. Creating a community between South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Angola, they have come together to preserve who they are and claim their seat at the economic table.

Over the course of modernization, and creation of borders and privatization of game reserves, the San have received the short end of the stick and have continuously been overlooked. They have been viewed as characters in the script of stereotypes – until now.

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PUESTA DEL SOL IS BACK

PUESTA DEL SOL IS BACK

We are very excited to announce that operations are restarting at Puesta del Sol, our Planeterra project in Nicaragua in November of this year. In March 2018, G Adventures cancelled operations due to the political crisis in the country.

The Puesta del Sol Community Association was founded in 2005 by 17 families, largely influenced by the women in the community. The mission of the organization is to improve the quality of life for their families and the area.

They are located in Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua, which is a beautiful island in the Nicaraguan Lake that has 2 mindblowing volcanoes. The main economic activities in this area are tourism and farming. Through the association, they have created different touristic initiatives. These new opportunities are resulting in families being able to stay together. In the past, due to the lack of jobs some members of the family had to leave to bring or send money home.

Tourism has become a meaningful source of economic development in Nicaragua, but because of the political crisis and social instability, this source of income was heavily affected. Puesta del Sol itself was impacted, they stopped receiving visitors, resulting  in job loss. Many had to leave for either safety or to be able to provide for their families.

Odalis the President of the Association, (her family founded the association) has been involved in every step of the development of the organization and is extremely proud. During my visit to Puesta del Sol in September, I stayed at her house or “homestay”, she showed me around and told me all of the exciting stories about her family and the association.  She is so happy to see how the country is recovering from the crisis, tourists are coming back and she is so thankful and happy to be welcoming G Adventures travellers into their houses.

G Adventures and Planeterra have been working with Puesta del Sol since 2012. Planeterra provided funds for the development of the tourism initiative and the related training. Travellers enjoy living the “Isleno” life for a couple of days through the homestay experience offered by Puesta del Sol, the families in the community are very welcoming, and they really make you feel at home!

The community is eager to welcome back all G Adventures groups!

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From the Field – The Lusumpuko Women’s Club

HOPE AND INSPIRATION FOR OTHERS

The 20 women of the Lusumpuko Women’s Club chose this name with the hope that they would be able to lift themselves and their communities out of the harsh realities brought on by the economic situation in Zimbabwe. The ladies founded the chicken rearing co-operative as a way to create income for their households, and to help and inspire other, younger ladies to do the same.

How It Started

“It’s our dream to help more women in our community,”

says Lusumpuko president Linda Makarutse, and Merlyn Mpofu, Lusumpuko’s secretary, chimes in:

“The problem now is some of our age group and youth, they are not educated enough to get a job in the tourism industry. There is a need for hospitality training classes, and opportunities for women and youth here in Victoria Falls.”

With this in mind, Planeterra began supporting the co-operative in 2017, and the ladies of Lusumpuko got to receive basic business training. The co-operative also received a grant to help kick-start a meal service in the tourist town of Victoria Falls. This investment helped them purchase much-needed catering equipment, such as pots, a gas cooker, and serving utensils. They also got the chance to empower a different women’s co-operative by purchasing uniforms made from locally sourced chitenge fabric. The launch of their new catering business helped Lusumpuko increase their combined income of about $600 USD to more than four times as much per month, thus significantly improving their quality of life and enabling them to provide for their children while supporting other members of the community.

The meal service is a hearty buffet of traditional Zimbabwean food, as well as an enjoyable experience observing the preparation by the co-operative members. Travellers going through Victoria Falls have the opportunity to enjoy an array of home-cooked Zimbabwean delicacies. This has not only been financially beneficial for the ladies, but emotionally fulfilling for them as well. Most of the ladies will admit to finding a sense of purpose and validation as they can now depend on themselves to take care of their households.

Members of the co-operative used to do odd jobs in the community, like selling floor polish, providing cleaning services, or selling crafts across the border into Zambia or Botswana. Now, they have weekly work using their skills, practicing English, and interacting with international travellers, while many have dreams to one day expand the co-operative to provide other tourism services, like transport.

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First G Adventures travellers visit Native Grill

“NAVAJO SOUL FOOD”

It’s hard to miss the flags and signs of the Native Grill, a family-owned business along Route 89, nestled on Navajo Nation’s western side. It’s lunchtime on a Tuesday and the food truck, with the caption “Navajo Soul Food,” is busy with customers wanting to taste the authentic Navajo cuisine of frybread taco, dumpling stew and grilled local lamb. The kitchen is busy, as the family’s grandmother cooks frybreads for the pending G Adventures group of 12 who are about to arrive.

Her daughter Alfreida, who’s from the area, started the family food truck in 2013 by attending the Tuba City Fair, and operated in that town until a Burger King opened and forced them out some time later. Undeterred, Alfreida and her family carried on.

“There were days where we made no sales, but we stuck it out,” says Alfreida. “I’d be up prepping at 4:30 in the morning, but as time went along I figured things out.” Eventually, she gained her business license in 2016 and set up just south of the town of Cameron.

This area of Navajo Nation is in particular need of entrepreneurs like Alfreida, as it was under the Bennett Freeze between 1966 and 2009, which outlawed any infrastructure development. This meant houses couldn’t be built, water and gas lines couldn’t be laid, and roads couldn’t be mended, to name just a few of the ways the area’s development was stifled. Still today, it’s estimated that almost 60% of houses in the area do not have electricity, and the majority do not have potable water.

Improvements To The Native Grill

Planeterra partnered with Indigenous business incubator DineHozho, who have helped oversee a grant earmarked for improvements to the Native Grill. Today’s visitors are enjoying new picnic tables, a hand-washing station, and a brand new shade structure which will be especially handy during the hot desert summers. Native Grill’s operations have also been assisted by upgrades to their solar and generator systems.

As the group of G Adventures travellers arrive, they line up at the window to confirm their order for Navajo Tacos, and decide which toppings they’d like on their frybread, as three generations of Alfreida’s family work together in unison in the kitchen.

It may be these four running the Native Grill this afternoon, but to them, the entire community is considered family, and they assist as many people as they can.

“We do what we can at a local level to help the elderly, and during Christmas and Thanksgiving we do turkey baskets and deliver it to people that live off the main road like 15-20 miles away, all the way at the base of the mountain,” explains Alfreida.

With more income from regular G Adventures groups (somewhere between 15-24 customers will be visiting twice a week during the summer months), Native Grill will be able to assist the community even more, not to mention grow the business. Although the food is delicious and the group enjoys their meal under the shade, the highlight of the afternoon is the family coming out to introduce themselves to the travellers, who eagerly ask questions in an effort to learn more about what it’s like to live on Navajo Nation. In the end, this is so much more of a meal stop – it’s an opportunity to learn about the resilience and entrepreneurship of the Diné (more commonly known as the Navajo) and how travellers should make an effort to stop at the small businesses that dot the roadsides if they’d like to learn more and give back to this community.

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Chandni Yadav’s Inspirational Story

WOMEN ON WHEELS

Planeterra asked Women on Wheels what our partnership meant to them, and how tourism was impacting the lives of the women that they work with. They felt that individual stories best showcased the impact of how the women they work with are changing the lives of their families, and becoming strong role models in their communities. Here is the story of one of the Women on Wheels drivers, Chandni Yadav:

The Career Change

“I have always wanted to continue with my studies. I have never thought that I would have to leave my studies but when I reached to the age of adolescence, I realized my family situations does not allow me to continue my studies further. I have 3 brothers but there was no financial support from them and my parents were struggling financially. I had to leave my studies and started working in a hotel. I have never liked the job in the hotel. One day I learnt from a neighbour about Azad Foundation and its “Women on Wheels” programme. I discussed about joining the programme with my parents, but they asked me:

‘Why do you want to leave your current job which is a big financial support to family for a 6 months training of WOW?’

But I decided to become a driver, which had cause many issues. Once I started the training, I faced difficulties at home, my parents used to scold me and they were pressuring me to do a job and earn. But I persisted and finished Women on Wheels training.

Today, I feel very happy that I have become independent and since joining Sakha as a cab driver I feel proud of myself. Earlier, I wished to be a driver but never had had the confidence to pursue such profession. Today, I am a driver and I feel very confident. I can go alone anywhere, which I could not do before. Now, I am supporting my family and I even have helped my father financially to build a home in our village. I have repaid the loan of my brother’s marriage. Today, I am supporting my parents by all means I can and I am independent to make my own decision.

In our community, people are happy to see me as a driver and everyone tells my parents that I am better than my brothers. I always used to resist my desires and never used to say anything to anyone. I never used to do anything for myself but now I have started doing things as per my wish. In future I want to buy a scooty for myself, soon I will do this. I am so very thankful to Azad and Sakha for changing my life for better.”

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