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Communities

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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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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Boosting a craft workshop in Kyrgyzstan

Planeterra works with community organizations and nonprofits all over the world, using tourism as a catalyst for empowerment and sustainable development. Here is one example of how we brought on our newest partner, Ak Orgo, in the small town of Barskoon in Kyrgyzstan.

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Meet Mekenbek

Mekenbek is a passionate artist that has spent his life producing traditional Kyrgyz crafts. Mekenbek started a workshop in Barksoon village that primarily produces yurts and yurt decorations. Ak Orgo’s purpose is to preserve traditional Kyrgyz handicrafts while providing employment opportunities for the town of Barskoon, a community suffering with 80% unemployment.

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Finding Ak Orgo

The Ak Orgo workshop has actually been featured in Lonely Planet, and was found by a G Adventures’ CEO in Central Asia. G Adventures’ groups started visiting Ak Orgo in 2018, but it was clear that some additional training and infrastructure development was needed to see this workshop achieve its social enterprise goals through tourism.

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Infrastructure Needs Assessment

The basic structure for the workshop at Ak Orgo was already standing, but the toilet was not at a good standard, the kitchen was barely functional, and they dreamed of having a showroom where the artists could actually display their crafts for visitors.

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Infrastructure Grant

A grant was provided to Ak Orgo to fully construct a building outside the workshop that would house the kitchen, handicraft display room and the bathrooms. The community pitched in to complete the construction project in time for the tourism season to begin. This new building allows Ak Orgo to greatly improve the quality of experience they can provide in their workshop.

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Organizational Needs Assessment

Ak Orgo had no online presence, and struggled to find a way to capture the tourists driving by Barskoon. With the existing craft orders and partnerships the workshop was surviving, but not yet thriving or reaching its social enterprise goals of providing more employment opportunities in Barskoon. Ak Orgo looked to tourism as a launching pad that could help their workshop grow.

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Capacity Building Program

To address organizational needs, a training program was developed with the Association of Social Entrepreneurs Kyrgyzstan. The training program went over a period of six months, with trainings in three key categories – social entrepreneurship, tourism & guest management, and managing their online presence. Through this process Ak Orgo was able to develop their Social Enterprise Business Plan to continue tracking business and social targets for the future.

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Launching in Tours

As Planeterra works with our local partners, we also ensure that the experience is represented into the travel itineraries of G Adventures. Their first group of the 2019 season visited Ak Orgo on May 21, 2019. The group enjoyed a yurt building demonstration, a tour of the workshop and a traditional Kyrgyz lunch. The income earned through this partnership with G Adventures allows Ak Orgo to continue doing what they love, producing Kyrgyz crafts.

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Constant Innovation

Mekenbek doesn’t stop at craft production in the workshop. He is an innovator and creator at heart, and is constantly building new equipment that will allow their crafts to be produced in a less labour-intensive manner than traditionally taught. These innovations mean that more people can continue to produce the items and the culture can be better passed down to the next generation.

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Impact

Ak Orgo currently employs 9 community members and hopes to continue providing employment opportunities as their tourism program grows.

Planeterra couldn’t be more excited to see travellers start visiting Ak Orgo. It is our hope that tourism will allow them to continue to grow their workshop, hire more community members, and spread their unique crafts on to the next generation of artisans. Ak Orgo is a special place, and we highly encourage you to visit on your next trip to Kyrgyzstan!

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Two Projects Launched in Sri Lanka

This July was an exciting month for Planeterra in Sri Lanka, as not one but TWO of our new partnerships started to receive travellers from G Adventures. Each is a unique guesthouse with community empowerment at the heart of their business plans.

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Tamarind Gardens Farm, Digana

This quaint dairy farm is situated in a dolomite mining community. Owners Ayesha and Nalin aim to bring tourism to the community as an alternative means of income, and use the space to provide meaningful opportunities and training to anyone interested. Planeterra supported their work by funding a community garden to act as a seed bank for community members to begin their own home gardens. This program allows more community members to be involved in Tamarind Gardens, and works to improve access to healthy food. G Adventures’ travellers will also be receiving a handmade bag from the women’s cooperative on site, which was a program initiated by Tamarind Gardens to support young mothers and provide them with an accessible income generating opportunity.

Read more about this partnership here.

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Amba Chutney Cooperative, Bandarawela

This organic tea plantation is nestled in the hills of Ella. The estate provides fair employment opportunities, training and profit sharing for those working on the tea farm. With tourism growing in the valley, there is now the opportunity to support micro-enterprises that can benefit from the tourist volume coming to stay at Amba’s guest house and visit the farm. Planeterra has supported the first micro-enterprise in Bandarawela, a cooperative of six women that will be trained in chutney production. The chutney will be sold back to Amba, giving a built in market to the cooperative.

Read more about this partnership here.

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Zambian social enterprise empowers rural community

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It’s a journey in itself to get to the Mfuwe Village, nestled in the Eastern Province of Zambia, whether you take a car, bus, or plane. Nearly 10 hours by road from Lusaka, or a one-hour flight, one gets the impression straight away that they are in the middle of nowhere. With Mfuwe’s proximity to South Luangwa National Park, famous for its herds of elephants, scores of lion and regular leopard sightings, it’s hard to find a place as beautiful as this.

The beauty, and wildlife, have all created a perfect arena for tourism in South Luangwa National Park, which boasts a plethora of lodges, and more than 45,000 annual visitors – the most of any national park in Zambia. Despite its remoteness, there is a vibrant tourism economy here, and the Mfuwe Airport is constantly receiving flights of travellers eager to take in the safari experience.

Nestled between this airport and the park’s gate is Tribal Textiles, a workshop and bustling business that employs more than 100 Mfuwe locals. With an impressive corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy, countless staff benefits, and a social enterprise model, it’s hard to imagine a business as socially conscious.

“South Luangwa is really benefitting from tourism a lot,” says Nsabila Njobvu, Tribal Textile’s Retail Manager, who has been working at the social enterprise for more than seven years. “The higher the number of tourists that we are receiving, the more poverty is decreasing because people have jobs and they are able to take children to school, able to afford a basic meal every day.”

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However, Tribal Textiles is constantly attempting to tear travellers off the road, or away from the lodges nestled far within the national park. As a result, they are regularly finding new ways of marketing their products, and last year they launched a new restaurant in an attempt to acquire tourists on their way to and from the airport. The restaurant, named the Courtyard Café, is run by local entrepreneur and chef, Dorica, who also runs a restaurant in the village.

“Before the restaurant, I had to go do farming in a nearby village to get money,” explains Dorica, who balances her new café at Tribal Textiles, and a restaurant run at her home in the village. “I am happy, very happy, because sometimes that side when there’s no business, at least here [at Tribal Textiles] you’ll find I have customers so I am able to take care of my family and to keep my business going,” Dorica explains. Not only is her restaurant and the Courtyard Café bringing income to her family, she has also been able to onboard staff as a result of the café’s success.

As it grows, the business expands their social enterprise model. Many proceeds from the products sold at the showroom go to initiatives such as Conservation South Luangwa (CSL), the Malimba School, and the Hanada Orphanage. The business has also opened a Community Artisans’ Market, to provide local artists with a space to sell their handicrafts.

Tribal Textiles is the perfect example of a business expanding as tourism increases, and with their social enterprise model and passion for giving back to the community of Mfuwe, they are set to remain an important part of the safari experience for travellers, all while empowering the local community to earn a sustainable living.

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Water Tanks in Thailand

Planeterra has worked closely with The Thailand Community Based Tourism Institute since 2015 to improve community tourism in the indigenous communities of Ban Pha Mon (Red Lahu) and Ban Muang Pam (Karen). These communities were connected to the G Adventures market in 2016 and hosted 600 G Adventures’ travellers that year.

Planeterra’s annual impact assessment showed that increased traveller numbers had led to positive impact on knowledge, skill development, cultural exchange and additional income for the community through tourism. However, it was also observed that the community was consuming far more resources with the new influx of travellers, with increased strain on water, food and power.

The 2016 rainy season caused flooding in both Ban Pha Mon and Ban Muang Pam that completely destroyed some of their irrigation system, which led to an insufficient amount of water to be used in the village.

In Febrary 2018, Planeterra supported these two communities to build 10 water tanks to meet increased water demand. Communities provided their labor, skills and knowledge to build the water tanks locally. Each water tank is able to contain up to 4,000 litres, increasing each village’s capacity to 20,000 litres. The water also will be used for travellers as well as  families in the community.

This community effort allows for sustained tourism activities in the two communities for years to come. Thank you to all donors that support Planeterra, helping others to uplift their quality of life, sustaining the community environment and developing community infrastructure.

Panot Pakongsup

Panot is Planeterra’s Field Manager for Asia. With vast experience working in community based tourism in Thailand, Panot is now bringing his expertise throughout the continent with Planeterra.

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Updates from Colombia

Planeterra has been working with Wiwa Tours in Colombia to set up a social enterprises owned and operated by the Wiwa community of Gotsezhy along the Lost City Trek. A series of enterprises along the trek have opened up new income generation opportunities for the community, including a training kitchen, meal and handicraft experiences. In the last months before launching the experience for G Adventures’ travellers, the community members are putting final touches on the experience. This project works to provide income opportunities for 100 community members. An investment from Planeterra and Live Out There, along with the support of G Adventures, has created a unique new opportunity for the Gotsezhy community to thrive in tourism. Check out some of the latest photos of their progress:

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Making Tourism Benefits Accessible for All

Finding a job in tourism can be difficult for anyone. Finding a job in tourism when you are living with a long-term disability — seemingly impossible. The ability to get to a tourist destination opens a world of possibility. When accessibility is an issue, the only way to engage in tourism may be if a traveller comes directly to where you are.

Not all societies prioritize accessibility. This means that anyone living with long-term disabilities face immediate barriers whenever they leave their home. Simple things like accessing public transportation may mean that a person has to forgo economic opportunity all together. Other societies have certain stigmas attached to disability. This leaves community members isolated from their peers and without adequate opportunities to become independent adults.

This is where Planeterra comes in. Planeterra works with unique partners across the world that are creating accessible futures and meaningful opportunities for the communities they serve. Our partners help serve communities living with disabilities to access education, mobility devices and unique health care. The integration of tourism into these programs allows for increased income to support meaningful work, and hands-on job experience for community members to learn new skills and earn an income.

Get to know five amazing organizations that are bringing accessibility to the tourism industry with Planeterra:

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Senang Hati Foundation

Beyond everyday limitations experienced by people living with disabilities, this community in Indonesia are also faced with culturally ingrained stigmatization. It is believed that those living with disabilities have bad karma, leaving them isolated and marginalized within their communities, often without education or medical care. Senang Hati Foundation is one nonprofit that is working to provide opportunities to these community members in Bali to help individual gain independence and increase mobility. The organization hosts a community lunch for travellers, where Planeterra has helped outfit their dream kitchen equipped with accessible appliances and counters. Senang Hati is a place for community members to gain confidence as they learn new skills.

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Nem Adom Fel

Almost 1 million Hungarians are living with a physical or mental disability. There are also great disparities in employment rates and education levels between able-bodied Hungarians and Hungarians living with a disability. Although recent government legislation and programs have attempted to tackle these issues (and others such as accessibility), with varying degrees of success, there exists a need to empower and employ people living with disabilities in Hungary. Nem Adom Fel Foundation (meaning ‘I never give up’) was founded in 2005 with the mission to fulfill this need with the belief that everyone has something to offer. Not only does the Foundation employ differently-abled individuals to run their cafe, which doubles as a community space for cultural programming, but they use the revenue to invest in social support for students, creating a daycare, providing accessible housing, and other community initiatives. So far 180 people living with disabilities or from Roma communities have been employed by the foundation and as time goes on even more will become empowered through the work of Nem Adom Fel.

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Penduka

Located in the Katatura Township just outside of Windhoek, Namibia, Penduka is a women-owned and run business which houses numerous handicraft workshops for textiles, beading and pottery, as well as a restaurant, guesthouse, and small income-generating agriculture projects. One of the co-founders of Penduka suffers from physical disabilities and set out to assist other women in her community who often do not receive enough government assistance and are considered unemployable. Penduka hires local, at-risk women with no schooling background and no access to secure jobs, with the majority suffering from chronic illness or disabilities. Through direct employment at Penduka and a handicraft cooperative which contracts the services of rural artisans, more than 300 women from around the country are benefitting from this socially-minded business.
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Sthree Craft Shop and Cafe

The Women’s Development Centre in Kandy have been serving women for over 30 years. Women with children with disabilities have a unique need, as without adequate care for the children they will be unable to work and support the family. Financial responsibility for children with disabilities often falls on the woman to support in Sri Lanka. The Women’s Development Centre helps to meet this need by providing a daycare centre for children with disabilities, as well as a vocational training program to continue learning opportunities for these youth beyond formal education. Youth from the vocational training centre will be serving up hot tea and snacks to G Adventures travellers in Kandy as of 2018, along with women entrepreneurs at the Sthree Craft Shop and Cafe. This provides the students with additional opportunities to learn new skills, build their confidence, and interact with people from all over the world.
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Cafe Ubuntu

When their children’s school for disabilities was chronically underfunded, the ladies of Ubuntu Team came together to create a social enterprise that would provide more resources to children living with physical and psychological limitations in their community. Not only do more than 20 women now work at Ubuntu Made, which creates beautiful handicrafts that are sold around the world, the women also operate Cafe Ubuntu, which hosts travellers as they commute from Nairobi to nearby safari reserves. The funds raised through the cafe and handicrafts go not only towards the women’s livelihoods, but also to funding the community school for children with disabilities, which is now able to employ a special needs teacher and occupational therapist.
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The impact of tourism in Panauti, Nepal

Although it’s hard not to enjoy staying in a beautiful, luxurious hotel while travelling, the reality is that most budget hotels—and some mid-range ones, too—simply end up being a place to rest your head. For travellers who want much more from their accommodation, the Community Homestay project in Nepal offers just that. As well as providing guests an opportunity to experience authentic Nepali life, get to know small-town locals and participate in non-touristy activities, there is a serious social benefit to the host communities.

The Community Homestay project, run by Kathmandu-based Royal Mountain Travel, has been operating their flagship collection of homestays in Panauti since 2013. The Panauti Community Homestay project has recently partnered with Planeterra as one of the new projects for the 50 in 5 Campaign. Initially, 13 homes were involved. Now, 26 beds in 17 homes are open to visitors in Panauti.

The aim of the homestays from the beginning was to help empower the women of the community, in the understanding that by strengthening women, whole communities are strengthened. In traditional Nepali society—which still dominates everywhere but the most privileged enclaves of the major cities—women are typically dependent on men, first their fathers and then their husbands. They are usually under- or uneducated, too, so don’t get many opportunities to earn their own money or contribute to the household in any way other than with their household chores. The Community Homestays aimed to change all that in their communities.

The good news is, they’ve been really successful, especially in Panauti, where they began. Panauti is not completely rural but not urban, either. It’s a small town about forty kilometres from Kathmandu, traditionally inhabited by Newari people, an ethnic group largely found in and around the Kathmandu Valley. The town is surrounded by rice fields and hills, which are bright green just after the monsoon, and the architecture in the centre of the town is typically Newari, with ornately carved wooden doorways and windows. The main historical attraction of the town is the Indreshwar Temple, a tall pagoda structure beside the river that is the oldest temple in Nepal, dating from 1294. A sightseeing tour around Panauti with the host family is sure to interest travellers with various tastes.

The women of Panauti have been able to generate extra income for their households through hosting guests, and have some control over their own money. They have joined English classes so they can communicate better with their guests, which have given them greater confidence and social skills. They have worked together and made new friends and colleagues, and are no longer as house-bound as they once were. As one homestay host, Sabita KC, commented: “As I am, now, able to help with the household expenses, we can save money for the future of our children. I am glad that I am part of the homestay project.”

Operating the homestays has also had community-wide effects, beyond just the households directly involved. In order to be able to host guests, homes must meet a good standard of hygiene in all respects, including food preparation and waste disposal. As the hosting women became better educated about safe practices, the whole town caught on. As tourists to Nepal tend to enjoy clean, green natural environments free of garbage, the hosts became better aware of keeping their town in good shape. While Nepal isn’t short of stunning natural landscapes, unfortunately many settlements tend to be litter-strewn, with poor water quality in the rivers and ponds. But, as Panauti host Parvati Sainju commented: “We are more aware of sanitation and hygiene now. The entire community is more concerned about moving away from plastics and non-decaying products.”

The community has benefited in monetary ways, too. The thirty-four homestay women contribute 20% of their total income towards the development of community. So far, these funds have been put towards scholarships for underprivileged students. This sharing of some of the profits is a requirement of inclusion in the programme, and ensures that the ‘community’ aspect of Community Homestay stays strong.

These days, around 1800 guests stay at the Panauti Community Homestay annually. With such tangible achievements evident from just its first four years of operation, there are high hopes for what the project could continue to do for Panauti, as well as for other communities around Nepal.

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Author: Elen Turner is a freelance travel writer and editor based in Kathmandu, Nepal. Find her at www.elenturner.com

Royal Mountain Travel is connecting a network of homestays in Nepal through CommunityHomestay.com. Be sure to check out some of the other amazing homestays they have supported, including Planeterra’s partners at Barauli Community Homestay.  G Adventures’ Local Living Nepal tour brings you to Panauti village to spend four nights with your community hosts!

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