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Crystal Browne

6 Emergency Grants tackling COVID-19 Relief

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We know that this is a difficult time for everyone, and we appreciate that the Planeterra community has come together to help those most vulnerable. You have helped us send money for nutritious food for 67 HIV positive youth, life-saving medication to a rural community in Belize, and soap to an Indigenous community of 2,000 people in Botswana. Below is more information on which projects your donations have gone on to support. While we want to celebrate the projects that have received help, there are still many more in need. 

AidChild Leadership Centre (ALI), Uganda – First Grant

Planeterra has been working with ALI since 2017, by supporting their cafe at the Ugandan equator. Over 50% of ALI’s operating budget, which supports 67 HIV-positive orphans, comes from their tourism businesses, including the cafe, so the halt on travel has had a devastating effect on their operations. With the loss of income, they were only able to afford rice and beans to feed the 67 youth in their care. Your donations provided more well-balanced nutritious groceries to ensure that they remain healthy through this crisis. 

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San Antonio Women’s Co-op, Belize – Second Grant

San Antonio Women’s Co-op is located in a rural Maya community in Belize, and was formed by a local women’s group made up of nine Mayan women. They started the group to find a way to earn an income, learn new and interesting skills, and share their traditional knowledge not only with visitors but with the younger generation. When travel was halted due to COVID-19 they had to close down their shop, resulting in a loss of income not only for the members but for individuals in the community that relied on the cooperative for support. Your donations resulted in an emergency grant being sent so these individuals could receive life-saving medication that they almost had to go without.  

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AFER, Morocco – Third Grant

Planeterra helped fund the first hospitality program run by local partner AFER (Association Des Femmes et Enfants Ruraux) to develop the skills of rural women and support healthcare and wellbeing in the rural area of M’Haya. Travellers were able to visit and have a traditional meal during their travels. This program benefits nearly 700 women and children in the area and when tourism stopped, they were unable to help members of their community receive life-saving medication. Your donations allowed us to send funds to purchase a two month supply of medication for  those with severe chronic illnesses.

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çöp(m)adam, Turkey – Fourth Grant

çöp(m)adam started as an experimental project in Western Turkey addressing the issues of women’s employment and the importance of recycling/re-using. When travellers visit the workshop during a trip to Turkey, and purchase their products, they are directly supporting the women that made them. Ten artisans in the community rely on the income generated from travellers supporting the project. Your donations were sent to help the women provide for their families and access essential necessities.

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Dqae Qare San Lodge, Botswana- Fifth Grant

Dqae Qare San Lodge is located in D’Kar in a community of 2,000 people who are living on less than 30 cents a day. When tourism became a viable revenue source for the community they were able to support many members including their full time, part-time staff but also other groups in the community. COVID-19 resulted in the lodge losing significant income which directly impacted the entire community. Your donations have been sent to Dqae Qare to pay for soap and food, as the community was unable to afford it during this pandemic. 

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Mto wa Mbu, Tanzania – Sixth Grant

Mto wa Mbu Cultural Tourism Enterprises works to provide jobs to locals, including women, in an innovative and sustainable way that celebrates local culture and heritage. They run multiple experiences for travellers including bike tours, cultural experiences, and delicious meals. As a result of COVID-19 this income has stopped not only for our project but the ripple effects our project had on the community of other farmers in the area. This project is also very concerned that the lack of tourism and the need for income could result in wildlife destruction such as poaching. Your donations will help those impacted receive essential goods. 

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You can fund more relief efforts here.

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Reef Ecologic- An Experiential Great Barrier Reef Adventure

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As a marine scientist specializing in active reef restoration techniques, the Whitsundays is an ideal location to try to implement my craft. In March 2017 ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie devastated a number of coral reefs in the Whitsundays region of the Great Barrier Reef. In 2019 Reef Ecologic partnered with G Adventures and Planeterra Foundation who provide critical funds to support the continuation of reef restoration activities in the region.

In December Reef Ecologic’s Nathan Cook and associate, Tracey Cook joined Explore Whitsundays in hosting 20 G Adventures travellers in the magnificent Whitsundays region of the reef. Nathan and Tracey went along to introduce travellers directly to the reef restoration project.

We departed Airlie Beach on a beautiful sunny morning heading for our first destination at Blue Pearl Bay on the shores of Hayman Island. The seas were calm and we were all keen to dive into those azure waters common in the Great Barrier Reef.

Some areas of the Great Barrier Reef have been heavily degraded by multiple impacts over the past few years. One of the reef restoration techniques we specialize in is called coral gardening. It’s nothing new; it’s been going on around the world for over 20 years. We take fragments from donor corals, or we might find them loose around the reef, and we transplant them to areas that have been degraded and attach them to the reef using cement. Once they’ve got that stable base, they can grow in that new location and help regenerate that degraded reef. The coral colonies we plant cover small areas in the overall Great Barrier Reef, but if we all contribute our little bit, it’s that whole economies of scale that’s going to make a difference to our global community and impact these ecosystems.

I gave a briefing to all travellers on the restoration project, how it works and what they would see once in the water. Showing the travellers the corals growing on the coral nursery was a real pleasure. It was fulfilling to close the loop and show them the corals growing on the reef that their travels had made possible. Many were amazed that you could actually grow coral this way.

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We collected a few loose coral fragments and returned to the boat where we ‘planted’ them in new bases. In this way the corals could grow for 6-12 months before they would be planted out on the reef.

Involving people in the process is an important part of the restoration projects that Reef Ecologic are involved with. When we go out and do reef restoration projects and coral gardening activities—meaning we take corals from healthy reefs and use these to replenish or restore degraded reefs—we get travellers or people from the community who have an interest in the marine park or the marine environment. They want to be involved in the solutions, but they don’t necessarily have that knowledge, training or background. We facilitate their involvement and engagement in these activities. It really gives them a sense of achievement, accomplishment and feeling like they’ve been a part of that solution.

Before we departed Blue Pearl Bay I was accompanied by deckhand Thomas Stedman back to the coral nurseries where we placed the newly propagated corals back onto the frames, “it is super cool to be involved in such a positive project” Tom remarked upon surfacing.

We pulled up the anchor and sailed on to our next destination, leaving our little corals growing on the reef to continue to assist the recovery of these important locations.

Thanks to the Planeterra Foundation, an important partner providing critical funds to support our work. Partnerships like these help assist the recovery of coral reefs supporting the socio-economic values of reef communities in the Great Barrier Reef and around the world.

The reef restoration work in the Whitsundays has thus far been an amazing journey of discovery, learning and regeneration.

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Maasai Clean Cook Stoves By Terra Poon Tip

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My personal experience at the Maasai Clean Cookstove Project in Arusha, Tanzania truly made me reconsider what true travelling experiences are all about. 

Since I’ve gotten older and had more experiences in personal travel, I’ve learnt many lessons about what it means to have an enjoyable time on vacation. The media often portrays the communities that I have visited to be miserable, helpless and in need of financial assistance from other wealthier countries. Falling victim to these portrayals of the media was the first mistake I made when thinking about other people in other places.  It becomes too easy to focus on the differences of other cultures than what we all have in common. Whenever I have had the chance to travel to such a beautiful place as Tanzania and more specifically visiting the Maasai, I found that the residents are smiling, jumping around, laughing and singing their hearts out.

The traditional clothing, the crowns and the jewelry, they had brought out to wear and show us was truly incredible – something I couldn’t dare take my eyes off of. If I were to roughly estimate, there were probably over 200 people singing and dancing around us, playing the most diverse instruments, dressed in beautifully colored, detailed handmade clothing. For as long as I live I will never forget the feeling of acceptance and love that came from such a wonderful tribe; the experience was truly magical. 

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Once the ceremony was finished they brought us into the stove making area and I was so excited to get to work. After the introduction was given to us, I put my hand up first because I wanted to get in there right away and get started. I was definitely out of my element, the ceilings were low, it was crowded with people and flies everywhere. In a moment of stillness, I looked over my shoulder and saw this older man with a huge smile on his face handing me the bricks one by one for the stove. This reminded me why I came here in the first place, and made all my worries disappear into thin air, a warm sensation took over my body and I was able to put my best efforts into building them the best stove for their community. 

You can learn more about the Maasai Clean Cookstoves project here

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New year, New Travellers, More Impact!

2020 is the year that Planeterra is working to complete Project 100, by having 100 Planeterra Projects on travel itineraries by the end of the year. These first few weeks of January have been very exciting for us at Planeterra but also for travellers who are getting to experience some of these one of a kind projects for the first time ever. 

For some of our project partners, it is their first time working with international travellers, the first time some of the project’s employees have ever had a job outside of their home, the first time they are able to have a job in the community in which they live so they don’t have to move to the bigger cities to earn an income. It’s at this moment that turning travel into impact comes to fruition!

Here is a rundown of the projects that received their very first travellers this month and how these initiatives are already making a huge impact on the community, the traveller or the project partner.

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Domari Culture and Craft Experience, Israel

The Dom (Gypsy) community face regular discrimination as a marginalized group in Israel, and the Domari Society was created to tackle this issue, and empower the community.  At the Domari Culture and Craft Experience, travellers will get to enjoy traditional Domari food as well as learn about the culture and shop at the local shop. 

“[I was] touched by her story and wish the host all the best in fulfilling her dreams of helping her community.” – G Adventures traveller

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Mesilou Atamis Homestay, Malaysia

Mesilou Atamis Homestay (MAH), known as the “Highest and Coldest Homestay in Malaysia” also had their first travellers visit this month. This is the first time the Mesilou community is welcoming international tourists to their community, and the tourism enterprise is benefitting over 23 families.

The first group visited this project this month and thoroughly enjoyed their stay. Many of the travellers decided to add on an optional activity and did the Maragang Hill trek led by the MAH members, spreading even more income into the community.

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Together We Earn, India

Together We Earn works to create opportunities for women in India. Ten women are employed and for many of them, it is the first time they have held a job outside of the home, and the first time they have earned their own money. Travellers will get the opportunity to eat traditional Alapphuza cuisine and get immersed in the local culture. 

Travellers visited TWE earlier this month and the travellers reported perfect (5/5) scores for their experience!

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Libaran Island Community Tourism, Malaysia

Being a remote island, there is little economic opportunity for those who live on Libaran Island. Additionally, this community is home to the nesting site of endangered sea turtles in which the local people take great pride. It is important for the community to have the ability to earn sustainable livelihoods so they can stay on the island and steward this fragile environment.   

Visitors to Libaran Island Community Tourism have the opportunity to learn about the knowledge and culture of the island through activities such as pandanous (plant fibre) weaving, making of local snacks, demonstration of traditional fishing nets and upcycling of plastic bottles into souvenirs. 

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Baracoa Community Tour, Cuba

Planeterra began working together with several family-owned micro-enterprises in the area to create Baracoa Community Tour for travellers as a way to bring economic opportunities to a rural area! 

Travellers have the opportunity to learn from local guides, participate in local living experiences and make some traditional delicacies. The day also includes a visit to a cacao farm, trying local food by women in the community, learning about a project working to preserve some of Cuba’s unique species, and having the chance to purchase unique handicrafts, all supporting women, men and youth of this community.

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Lusumpuko Women’s Club, Zimbabwe

Lusumpuko Women’s Club was in tours last year, but because of the success of their cooking demonstration and meal with travellers, G Adventures added Lusumpuko Women’s Club to additional travel itineraries, more than doubling the number of customers for their club.  With the increase in customers, the cooperative has hired ten new members who will now receive income from the tourism industry in Victoria Falls. Travellers have enjoyed this local experience for more than a year and we can’t wait for more travellers to experience it!

Planeterra couldn’t be more excited to see travellers enjoying all of the new projects! The count down is on until Project 100 is completed and we cannot do it without you, let’s keep turning travel into impact!

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The “Six Stars” at AMBA Estate

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We have just returned from Sri Lanka after meeting yet another group of inspiring women being supported by Planeterra Foundation! The Six Stars as they befittingly call themselves, are women who work a the AMBA Tea Estate and with Planeterra support have established a successful chutney cooperative after getting training and necessary equipment, further supplementing their income. 

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AMBA Estate is a community-based sustainable tourism project in the Ambadandegama valley in the Uva Highlands of Sri Lanka. Ambadandegama Chutney Cooperative is the first entirely community-owned venture to be supported by the Estate. Planeterra provided a grant for equipment and training so that the women of AMBA could start producing a range of chutneys, pickles and other preserves to be sold to visitors, utilizing the multitude of fruits and vegetables that grow in the valley. The group received guidance on how to make different types of chutney and about health and safety standards, like how to sterilize the bottles. The whole process is carried out with utmost precision. Anyone witnessing the entire process can feel the meditative approach of the cooking, as going step by step requires a lot of patience. But in the end, you are rewarded well with the aromas of all the lovely ingredients slowly filling the room.

The Happy Team at Work

The six members of the cooperative were selected by AMBA because they are the most experienced tea pickers. In Sri Lanka, it is mandatory that tea pluckers retire from the plantations at the age of 55, so the chutney cooperative adds financial stability as these women move into retirement. The “Six Stars” are all able to work from the comfort of their own homes which also provides them the opportunity to get help from their family members. As a result, the cooperative can churn out an order of 10-15 bottles in a single day. Guests at AMBA Guest House are able to taste the delicious chutneys ranging from mango, papaya, tomato, jackfruit, and lime, and can also take some back home. 

The Six Stars remark on the impact AMBA has had on them, including being able to support their families. 

“I have two daughters and one son,” Renuka says, “This money has really helped me a lot as I build my house. With the profits, I bought wiring for the house.” 

“I worked before in the estate and now I do this,” Ramayalatha reflects, “I am saving money for my daughter’s wedding.” 

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All of the women’s stories are truly inspiring, but Renuka’s story stands out. after facing a lot of setbacks early in life, in 2008, she joined AMBA as a tea-plucker. Step-by-step she learned a whole range of new skills, from organic vegetable and tea growing to fine-plucking, tea-rolling and jam-making. Like all of AMBA’s team, she participates in the farm’s revenue-share and she is now responsible for all aspects of tea production, from plucking the leaves to rolling and overseeing the oxidization and drying. She is also a founding member of AMBA’s chutney cooperative, which are then sold in the AMBA farm shop. Thanks to Renuka’s perseverance and hard work, she has been able to give her children an excellent education – her oldest daughter graduated and is now a teacher, her son is a security officer at a school, and her youngest daughter is taking her O Level. Renuka says that her life is getting much better, thanks to AMBA and Planeterra. 

It’s not just the members of AMBA Chutney Cooperative who are set to benefit from this enterprise. The community is also seeing ripple effects from this business, as Rs. 10 from each bottle of chutney sold is added to the cooperative’s fund which goes towards their equipment, and eventually, towards purchasing a start-up kit for more women to join the cooperative.

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The Chutney bottles at the AMBA Shop. 

On a lucky day you might get customized packaging, or maybe not!!

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Visiting Solheimar Ecovillage in Iceland

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In November I braved the winter cold to spend a full week and then some in Iceland.  It was completely worth it.  One of the comforts of going with G Adventures is the warm and friendly people I met throughout my tour.  A highlight of my trip was going to Solheimar Ecovillage, a Planeterra Foundation partner project.  Talk about warming your heart.

When we arrived, we were asked to remove our shoes before stepping into the main hall. Personally, I really love that they had us do that.  We met two of the Solheimar staff who gave us an introduction to the ecovillage and then showed us a video about the history and mission of Solheimar.  This inspiring, self-sustaining community is a place for disabled and non-disabled people to support each other and live together in harmony and mutual benefit.  It sounds like a very simple concept, but in 1930 when a woman named Sesselja founded this village, people did not believe that the mentally disabled should live among the non-disabled. Society has come a long way from thinking that mental disorders are contagious. 

 

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Sesselja had a vision to provide a home for children orphaned by the Spanish flu that had raged through Iceland.  Later she brought mentally disabled children to live in her home.  She had radical thoughts like growing her own organic vegetables and eating things other than lamb.  This was a wild idea at that time.  In the present day about 100 people, disabled and not, live together at Solheimar.  There are workshops for the residents to engage in, and perhaps learn a trade.  The ecovillage does not receive financial support from the state.  They rely on their own sustainable living, grant-based funding, and partnerships such as with Planeterra Foundation.  The ecovillage takes advantage of the geothermal resources available to them, which keeps energy costs low here.

 

Some of the opportunities available to residents include candle making, forestry, ceramics, greenhouse gardening, running a guesthouse, bakery and a café.  Their original hilltop café was quickly becoming inaccessible to residents as they grew older, so they recently built a new café.  It was around this time that Planeterra reached out to inquire about a partnership with Solheimar.  The ecovillage’s beautiful new café is furnished with tables and chairs provided by Planeterra Foundation.  The people here are so grateful for the helping hand from Planeterra.  And they are so appreciative of the ongoing support from G Adventures, in the form of tourists who come to Solheimar to listen, to learn, to eat and to shop.

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While we were at Solheimar, we got to eat a delicious homemade lunch while sitting in the beautiful new café furniture that brightens up the room.  They made us a delicious bowl of soup, two kinds of fresh baked bread, several yummy spreads for the bread.  The vegetables for the soup are organically grown by residents in their onsite greenhouses.  Every coffee drinker on our tour said that the coffee here was the best they’d had in Iceland.  They roast their own coffee on site.  No wonder it tastes so good.

The main impression I took away from here is that this is a simple place where needs are met. Happiness, comfort, feeling needed, having purpose and living off natural resources, are some of the benefits of being here.  It’s so nice to be reminded of the simple things in life.

Amy was selected as a 2019-2020 G Adventures Ambassador of Change-  “It’s been my privilege to spread the word about the amazing good they are doing in the world.  My family and I try to live a little more sustainably every day.  Small steps turn into big steps and collectively we can all make a huge difference.” Amy is a Travel Advisor visit Epic Away Travel to learn more.

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Learn more about Solheimar Ecovillage here

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How you can celebrate the way of the San

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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.

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.

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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. 

Learn more about our Giving Tuesday campaign that will directly support job opportunities for the San here. 

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San of the Soil

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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. 

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. 

Learn more about our Giving Tuesday campaign that will directly support job opportunities for the San here. 

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Puesta Del Sol is Back

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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.

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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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Integrating Sustainable Agriculture and Tourism in Turkey

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Güneysınır is a small town in the Konya region of Turkey. The population of around 10,000 people focus mainly on agriculture for income. Children are often sent away for school after reaching a certain age, and then later stay outside of the town in order to find employment. It is here that G Adventures and Planeterra identified a great location for a sustainable agriculture program that integrated tourism to allow new opportunities for community members to come together and invest in the future.
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In 2014, Planeterra and G Adventures’ local team began working with the municipality to create a project that would give back to the community. A plot of land 15,000 square meters was identified and donated by the municipality for Planeterra to develop as a community park and almond cooperative. This plot of land covers area believed to be one of the first settlements in the world. Over 300 trees were planted by 2015.

 

President of the Community Association, Ilyas Bayrak, said “we really have the opportunity to change people’s lives here.”

 

Planting an almond park does not create immediate returns, so it was important to integrate tourism into this program to create community benefit right away. Today, Mustafa is the main caretaker of the park. Along with his family, they host G Adventures’ groups as they enjoy a traditional Turkish pancake and a walk in the park to learn about the program. Employment at the park allows Mustafa to stay in Güneysınır with his family and support his grandchildren’s education. Women from the community are also able to sell the local handicrafts to earn additional income from the travellers.
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As the trees continue to grow, Mustafa is now working to create picnic areas inside the park for families to come and enjoy the space. They are planning a big festival in the Spring and hope to create more excitement around the park as the first harvest draws near. 

 

 

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The almond cooperative is expected to begin making profits and creating even more employment opportunities by 2021. The Community Association in Güneysınır will manage these profits and reinvest them into their two main priorities: children’s education and women’s economic empowerment. As the trees continue to produce almonds for years to come, the Association will continue to give back to the community and create new opportunities.
Watch our Instagram story from August 2019 to learn about our other projects in Turkey here.

 

 

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