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Virtual Tour of magdas HOTEL

HOTEL THAT EMPOWERS MIGRANTS, REFUGEES AND NEWCOMERS

Take a virtual tour of magdas HOTEL, a social enterprise hotel in Vienna, Austria that empowers migrants, refugees, and newcomers to the country through their training and employment program. At one time, this eclectic hotel was an elderly residence, but with crowdfunding and a grant from a local non-profit, Caritas, the building has been transformed into an accommodation well worth visiting.

magdas is the first social business hotel in Austria, and employs 10 professionals in tourism, who work alongside 10 refugees. This job-shadowing and mentorship between refugees and professionals in the industry an important part of the program, alongside initiatives like language lessons and other services. The idea here is that refugees will later be hired by other hotels in tourist-heavy Vienna, allowing a steady stream of refugees to learn hospitality skills at magdas.

Along with an internationally-themed breakfast buffet (serving things like baba ganoush and other dishes from the refugees’ home countries), magdas has been entirely decorated with up-cycled, donated, or recycled materials. Old doors have become mirrors, repurposed lockers have become serving bays for the buffet breakfast. Rooms were decorated thanks to the Academy of Arts, which resides next-door, and other sustainable initiatives such as a honey-making business that keeps beehives on the rooftop are displayed in the hotel’s lobby.

Click the video below to enjoy the full virtual tour, and see for yourself!

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Celebrating International Day of Cooperatives

It is International Day of Cooperatives today, and we have taken the opportunity to highlight just some of the ways we work with co-ops around the world – from Tanzania to Costa Rica! Take a look at five of our partnerships around the world:

San Antonio Pottery Co-op

San Ignacio, Belize

The San Antonio Women’s Group of nine Mayan women in Cayo, Belize, established a pottery cooperative as a means to earn an income, learn new and interesting skills, and share their traditional knowledge not only with visitors, but with the younger generation. Each woman working at the co-op cares for an average of 5-10 children. Planeterra was able to raise funds to support the co-op, allowing them to build an indoor workshop space to host more visitors and start a training program for unemployed youth.

Ccaccaccollo Women’s Weaving Co-op

Sacred Valley, Peru

A small group of women from the village of Ccaccaccollo, Peru, partnered with Planeterra in 2005 in an attempt to investigate how they could benefit from tourism in the Sacred Valley. Starting with three women, Planeterra developed a cooperative and funded training programs to help bring back traditional weaving practices that had been lost over previous generations.

The women who have been with the project since its inception report that all of their children are now studying at university. Not only that, but these women of the co-op have been able to contribute greatly to their families’ income, and their children are the first generation to be completely literate.

çöp(m)adam

Ayvalik, Turkey

çöp(m)adam offers regular work to around 40 women in Ayvalik, with all members working in a healthy environment and being paid a fair wage. With guaranteed regular employment, members of this social enterprise are able to make significant contributions when it comes to providing sustainability for their families and communities. Planeterra worked with çöp(m)adam to connect them to the tourism market, helping to expand the co-op’s customer base and benefit more women in Turkey.

Moshi Mamas

Moshi, Tanzania

Planeterra works with a free, adult business school called “Give a Heart to Africa” in Moshi, Tanzania, which provides a year-long curriculum in Business Management, Accounting, and English to local women. From this school has emerged a cooperative businesses within the tourism industry, including a handicraft maker’s studio as well as a shop and spa, all supported by Planeterra. In total, 30 women annually access the cooperative and school, benefitting greatly from the programs and business opportunity.

Mi Cafecito

Sarapiqui, Costa Rica

In 2011, the main coffee cooperative in Sarapiqui, Costa Rica established the Mi Cafecito Coffee Tour to try to find ways for their member coffee producers to earn additional income, particularly after a devastating earthquake two years earlier had wiped out the local economy and coffee prices had fallen. While it was a good idea in theory, they did not receive enough visitors to sustain the business, and were at the point of shutting down when Planeterra began working with them to develop a sustainable enterprise.

Coopesarapiquí brings together more than 240 small farmers that produce fair trade coffee from the four regions in the area. In addition to the coffee tour they farm fish for fresh lunches for their visitors. With training and the reliable customer base, the cooperative was able to triple revenues in the first year of reopening.

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Tyson Travel visits the Clean Cookstoves Project

During his 14-day Tanzanian trip with G Adventures, Australian travel blogger Tyson Mayr visited the Maasai Clean Cookstoves Project in Monduli. This project partnered with Planeterra in 2014, and together we’ve seen more than 250 stoves installed across various Maasai communities. The project has trained more than 75 women to create stoves that reduce harmful air pollution in rural homes, and recently expanded to include the installation of solar panels.

Hear from Tyson himself about his experience 

“I was very lucky to have spent time with a Maasai Tribe earlier this year as I learnt about The Cookstove Project that Planeterra Foundation supports. Travelling the world has opened my eyes to a lot of different things, especially around the way we all live our lives. But the one common trait I always seem to find, is a simple smile spreads quicker amongst people, then any hate ever will!”

Watch Tyson’s video below

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Khushi’s Journey

Would you ever dream to wake up at 5:00AM and clean your car? This is something Khushi likes to do every single day. Khushi works as a driver with Women on Wheels, a taxi service in Delhi that is run by women for women. She has been driving for the past 7 years and treats her car like an extension of her own body. “I wash myself every day – why should my car be any different?” she jokes.

If you have ever come across our Women on Wheels project, you’ll know that there is something special about it. Scratch the surface a little further, and you will uncover the years of training and social services that were provided to these women long before they could even consider becoming a taxi driver. Our partners, the Azad Foundation, are working with vulnerable women in city centres across India, and they start with the very basics. Income alone cannot change a woman’s life, but strong social connections, a better understanding of their rights and increased confidence through education – combined with economic opportunity – is a great place to start. When one of the lady drivers picks you up from the airport, you are not just helping her earn a livelihood – you are changing her life.

I had the honour of sitting in Khushi’s car this April in Delhi. She exudes confidence, and is keen to share her story with all that will listen. The Women on Wheels program helped bring her life from a place of crisis to one of opportunity.

There’s no better person to tell her story than Khushi herself:

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A sweet welcome to Barauli

It was a sweet welcome when I entered Barauli village, located on the west side of Chitwan National Park in Nepal. Not just because of the smiling faces and the delicious welcome drink, but because you could tell that this was a group of people that are sincerely so happy for you to be there.

After you go through a traditional Tharu welcome ceremony you are greeted by Jeevan Kumari with your (I cannot emphasize this enough) delicious welcome drink. Jeevan is a quiet yet confident woman with a graceful air about her. She mans the bar in the community restaurant and does so with pride.

The Barauli community has been running the homestay program for the last three years. With the support of Royal Mountain Travel, the community was able to construct individual room guest houses – much like a typical home – for travellers to stay. Jeevan had been completing her studies and was married just one year ago. After marriage she knew she needed to find something to do beyond her household chores. Encouraged by the tourists that visited her village almost every day, Jeevan decided to apply for a job in the restaurant. Now she works every day that there are guests and goes to spend time with her family on her days off.

Jeevan has noticed a lot of changes in her village since the homestay project began. “The tourists are helping us to keep our village clean”, she said. “When the tourists came, people noticed that they weren’t throwing plastic on the ground. Now everyone encourages each other to keep the community clean.” She goes on, “before we didn’t use soap – now we use it for our clothes and our dishes.” These small yet meaningful changes have led to an overall reduction in sickness in the village she reported, and now if someone does get sick, they know to call the doctor. Even child birth has improved since the community’s exposure into the tourism industry, with women choosing to call the doctor instead of the witch doctor when a woman goes into labour. The women also noted that before the homestay program was developed, they would have to bring all their vegetables to the market for sale, which was an extremely time consuming and difficult process. Today the homestay program purchases all their vegetables, meaning travellers get to enjoy local produce and women no longer have to make that difficult journey.

There’s been a lot of progress, but Jeevan is keen to keep moving forward. “Most people here are uneducated so I want to give them knowledge” she said. She hopes that someday she can be a teacher. Right now she is saving her money from her job to pay for her future plans, and to set more education programs in action for the youth of the village.

Changes in the community don’t stop there. With the assistance of Planeterra following the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, the community was able to install a solar energy grid, solar lights, western toilets, water tanks, and air conditioners to better improve the experience of their travellers. The street lights have improved the overall safety of students who leave Barauli early in the morning to travel to the college in the next village. Jeevan noted that other communities were noticing these improvements and starting to make plans of their own to introduce street lights.

Jeevan reflects that before the homestay program, girls often only went to school up until class 10. Today girls go on to further education and even take jobs in the city. Everyone is happy with these changes — including the men. Jeevan glowed as she stated how proud her husband was to share with other men that his wife was working at the homestay program. I would be proud too – the Barauli community has put together an amazing experience for travellers that come visit.

When you visit the Barauli Community Homestay in Nepal you are not only getting an authentic Tharu village experience, you are creating a better future for the children of the village. While Jeevan is not quite ready to have children of her own (she says she has far too much to accomplish before she can think about this) she is so proud to see that the children are now learning things she was never taught in college. Things are changing rapidly for Barauli, and it won’t be slowing down any time soon if Jeevan has anything to do with it.

After going on a jungle safari (sighting 8 rhinos!), seeing a traditional Tharu cultural dance and enjoying a delicious meal of Nepali curries, I retreated to my quaint room — basking in the peace and quiet that can only be found in such a remote setting.

The Barauli Community Homestay is proudly supported by Royal Mountain Travel and G Adventures. Rhea is the Asia Coordinator for Planeterra and was able to visit Baruali for the first time in April, 2017.

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Barefoot for India raises $1456

Stirling Weir, a previous G Adventures CEO (Chief Experience Officer), who is now a Operations CEO specialisit decided to use his vacation time for good. A simple pledge to walk barefoot for one day while travelling in India ended up raising $1,456 for Planeterra. From Planeterra we just wanted to say a huge thank you to Stirling for his generosity and his creativity!

Here’s what Stirling proposed through his GoFundMe page:

“As many of you know I’m currently traveling through India, a country known equally for its abundance of cultural beauty, as well as its visibly crippling poverty. Instead of remaining passive towards the thousands of people affected by poverty that I come across on this trip, I have decided to try and fight for them. On February 3rd – in an attempt to raise personal awareness, public awareness, and money for a good cause – I plan to spend the entire day barefoot while I tour around the city of Varkala in Southern India. I ask your help in raising money for Planeterra, a non-profit whose goal is to sponsor Social Enterprises (i.e., locally owned businesses) that will bring disaffected communities into the tourism industry all around the world. I believe in Planeterra’s mission because it provides lasting support to people in need by creating jobs, while improving the experiences of travelers from all backgrounds (If you want to learn more about Planeterra, you can visit them at their website, www.planeterra.org).

I’m also pledging to cover GoFundMe’s 8% service charge, so that all money donated goes straight to Planeterra. So if you donate $100, GoFundMe will give me $92, but I will still donate all $100 to Planeterra. If you’d like to donate directly to Planeterra, just let me know how much you donated and I’ll add it to the campaign.On behalf of the billions of people living in poverty around the world, I thank you all for your support. And be sure to follow me on Instagram (@stirls101) or Facebook on the 3rd to watch my experience going barefoot. I have no doubt that I’ll accidentally step in something strange and disgusting, hopefully to your squeamish joy.
www.planeterra.org
Help spread the word!”
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Planeterra named finalist for WTTC Award

We’re thrilled to report that Planeterra and our partners at G Adventures are finalists in the “Community” category of the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards, hosted by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC)! As Community Award Finalists, Planeterra’s work has been recognized as a leader of sustainable tourism in local community development, empowerment and cultural heritage.

Please read the press release from WTTC to learn more.

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11 New Projects Launch

Last year at this time, the Planeterra Foundation launched the ambitious 50 in 5 Campaign, to raise $5 million CAD to develop 50 new social enterprise projects by 2020. Since that time, we have been working hard to set the pace for the next five years, and we are pleased to share with you some of our results.

Since September 2015, the Planeterra Foundation has raised an astounding $1.1 million dollars. Our founding partner G Adventures’ continues to provide a generous annual donation to support our operating costs. This means that 100% of public and corporate donations are directed towards our projects. At our launch, we were also fortunate to receive multi-year funding from Live Out There and Deloitte to kick start news projects each year throughout the campaign.

With these donations, Planeterra has been able to launch 11 new social development projects in nine countries. That translates to 34,475 new community members whose lives are being changed by our work since the launch of 50 in 5.

Click through to read more about each of the projects launched through Planeterra’s 50 in 5 Campaign:

  1. Ubuntu Community Lunch (Kenya)
  2. Bike with Purpose (Belize)
  3. Cafe Chloe Training Restaurant (Australia)
  4. Barauli Community Homestay (Nepal)
  5. The Castaway (Oceans)
  6. Turkey Almond Park (Turkey)
  7. Belize Women’s Pottery Project (Belize)
  8. Tengger Community Homestay (Indonesia)
  9. Bali Community Lunch (Indonesia)
  10. El Hongo Community Restaurant (Mexico)
  11. Magdas Refugee Employment Hotel (Austria)

Stay up to date on Planeterra.org to learn about all the latest project launches across the globe!

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