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Our Projects

From the Field: Dream Kitchen in Bali

Yayasan Bhakti Senang Hati or “Senang Hati” is a foundation run by local people in Ubud, Indonesia who are living with long-term disabilities. On an island prospering from tourism, it is di cult to nd work if you have accessibility challenges. Senang Hati wanted to create a dream restaurant, a place where all people could comfortably work, learn, and host international travellers.

With Planeterra’s support, we worked with Senang Hati to bring their “Dream Restaurant Project” to life. This project received a grant of over $25,000 CAD to help members (most living with long-term disabilities) build human capital, renovate, and improve the accessibility of the restaurant facilities, and increase the number of locals employed through the Senang Hati Foundation. With Planeterra’s support, 10 people are now fully employed as restaurant sta with 20 students studying and training in hospitality. Students are also provided room and board through Senang Hati.

Since our partnership began, Senang Hati has seen an increase of 80% in their customer base through G Adventures travellers visiting the restaurant, and a 30% increase in other tourism programs such as their local tricycle tours, the Happy Hearts tour, and additional income coming from the sales of local arts products and souvenirs produced by additional members.

This article was written by Planeterra’s South East Asia field manager, Panot Pakongsup.

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Celebrating Women’s Day in Zimbabwe

When Zimbabwe experienced the world’s worst case of inflation in 2008, many of the country’s inhabitants struggled to meet the basic needs of their families. However, there is a growing movement to form cooperatives to create thriving businesses. Despite a traditional gender disparity, many Zimbabwean women are forming cooperative groups to provide services like tailoring, catering, and animal husbandry. These groups are taking matters into their own hands – creating income for their families and communities while empowering other women to build and launch their own businesses.

One such cooperative is the Lusumpuko Project (Lusumpuko means “progress” in Tonga), which was formed by 20 women from the Chinotimba township on the outskirts of Victoria Falls who found themselves without the means to support their families.

“If everyone had something to do or had an income at the end of the day, then people would be able to take their children to school, they’d be able to get healthcare, they would be able to get shelter over their heads,” explains Merlyn Mpofu, the Secretary of the group.

Taking a turn most cooperatives do not, Lusumpuko decided to partner with Planeterra, in order to harness the tourism industry and launch a catering business for visiting foreigners.

Planeterra has been working with this group since July 2017, with the help of Evie Ndhlovu, who has been assisting the ladies on behalf of Planeterra with training in hospitality, marketing, and more. Lusumpuko is one of 13 Planeterra partners who directly benefit women’s empowerment, and the newest project to launch in 2018. The Lusumpuko Project, originally a chicken-rearing endeavour, has expanded to a catering business – with G Adventures travellers to Victoria Falls as their main customer base and Planeterra providing a kick-starter grant to get their business off the ground.

“If tourism grows, the opportunity of employment will grow, too,” noticed Linda Makarutse, the President of Lusumpuko. “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.”

Despite the gap in ability for many in Victoria Falls to benefit from the tourism industry, both Merlyn and Linda, along with the rest of the Lusumpuko members, believe they can have a hand in helping the next generation.

“We’re feeling very positive for the future,” says Merlyn. “Also, looking forward to, as we grow, maybe also changing the community, teaching others, helping others invest in their own thing and maybe our Lusumpuko company also having a sister company.” To this, Linda nodded her approval: “It’s our dream to help more women in our community,” she concluded.

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Planeterra’s gifts with purpose

Need some last-minute holiday gift ideas? Planeterra partners have got you covered!

It’s holiday season, and what better way to celebrate than with meaningful gifts that give back? Many of our Planeterra partners host online stores, where you can buy locally-made merchandise that supports women, youth, and disadvantaged communities all over the world.

Still looking for a last-minute holiday gift idea? We’ve got you covered:

Penduka

One of our newest partnerships, Penduka is a women-owned and run business that employs local women that are living with disabilities, or have suffered from illnesses such as HIV.  

Support this enterprise by buying some of their beautiful textiles, jewellery, and more:

http://www.penduka.com/en/for-you/webshop/

UbuntuMade

Located just outside of Nairobi, Kenya, are our partners at Café Ubuntu, part of the businesses of UbuntuMade, a socially-conscious social enterprise that provides support to women and children living with disabilities.

Many of UbuntuMade’s products are sold in the United States, and their online store hosts tons of great buys, including tote bags, traditional beaded bracelets, and even something for our four-legged friends!

https://www.ubuntumade.com/collections/all

Nyamirambo Women's Centre

The Nyamirambo Women’s Centre in Kigali, Rwanda not only hosts travellers for tours and lunches, employing women in the tourism sector, but also hosts community classes for literacy, computer skills, and handicraft making.

Support the women of Nyamirambo by shopping clothing, bags, and other crafts at their online store:

http://www.nwc-umutima.org/products.html

Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre

The Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, located in Whistler, Canada is home to a training program that empowers indigenous youth to conduct tours of the centre’s museum and grounds. The space is a celebration of the two indigenous communities of the region, and teaches local and international visitors about the region’s history.

Choose from clothing and other items depicting traditional indigenous art, handicrafts and music on their online store.

https://shop.slcc.ca/

Salaam Baalak Trust

Planeterra is working with Salaam Baalak Trust, an organization that provides safe housing, counselling, education, and support to over 5,000 children in New Delhi, as well as managing five safe homes across the city.

You can shop their online store and support their efforts through the purchase of tea, calendars and t-shirts.

http://www.salaambaalaktrust.com/shop.html

We’re excited to bring Sthree, our holiday campaign partner, into our social enterprise fold next year. We hope you’ll see some of their handicraft products soon!

Until then, you can support our campaign to launch their craft shop and cafe here

 

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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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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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The Ripple Effects of Tourism at Parwa in Peru

At Planeterra Foundation, we believe that the economic empowerment of one small business can uplift an entire community. We’ve seen it time and time again since we began assisting individuals, families and businesses to join the tourism supply chain. By empowering a business and helping it to thrive, an entire community can be transformed.

There is perhaps no better example of what we call “the ripple effect” than the community-owned Parwa Restaurant in the Sacred Valley of Peru. Since it opened in March of 2014, profits from the restaurant have been distributed to various initiatives which have benefitted the community as a whole, and often the neediest groups.

Not surprisingly, the community association decided early in its first year to invest in the youth of the village, through a scholarship program and building of an internet-connected computer center. 

The elderly in the community have also seen the ripple effect caused by the restaurant’s creation, as a social security program was created for their benefit. Income in 2016 went towards installation of water tanks in 45 families’ homes, to ensure all residents in the village have access to running water.  

Those running the restaurant have also not forgotten to invest back into their own business. New restrooms, kitchen upgrades, and an organic garden to grow vegetables for the restaurant (that acts as an educational component on local foods including quinoa and indigenous potatoes for visitors) were all completed in 2016.

The success of the Parwa Restaurant is a testament not only to the infrastructure investment and capacity building contributed by  Planeterra Foundation and its partners, but to the commitment of the whole community to improve their families’ lives. This true social enterprise has lifted an entire community up, and we will continue to watch as their ripple effect continues to reach those most in need.  

FROM THE FIELD

Joel Callañaupa is Planeterra’s Field Manager in South America. He works closely with indigenous communities in Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia. He has specialized in community tourism since 2007 when he began his career with Peru’s national rural community tourism development program.

Help Planeterra continue to harness the travel industry for good

Read Planeterra’s 2016 Annual Report

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Training Underway at LinkAge Restaurant

Planeterra has been working hand-in-hand with Friends International to launch their first co-financed social enterprise restaurant in Burma/Myanmar. LinkAge Restaurant will help support at-risk former street youth find training in the tourism industry.  LinkAge will start hosting G Adventures’ National Geographic Journey’s trips starting October.

July was a busy month for the students at LinkAge, as they welcomed their trainers to learn more about the fine details of hospitality to make the visitors experience better than ever. Check out the progress the trainees are making as they prepare to welcome travellers:

LinkAge head chef, Koyee standing in his kitchen before renovation. Koyee will also act as the lead trainer for the students at LinkAge.

LinkAge Restaurant is a small, cozy cafe featuring local art. In partnership with Planeterra, the interior of the cafe will upgraded with new chairs, tables and decor.

In partnership with Friends International, students were given training on how to properly welcome and serve guests at the restaurant.

The students enthusiastically learned new skills from their trainer and are excited to welcome the first G Adventures travellers in October 2017.

Students worked very closely with their trainer to gain new skills.

Planeterra’s Field Manager, Panot Pakongsup poses with the students after a busy week of training!

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Bolivia Community Project Leaders Visit Cusco, Perú

In April 2017 five community members from Jukil Community Lodge in Bolivia travelled to Cusco, Perú as part of a week-long internship program supported by Planeterra. The trip’s purpose was to contribute to the strengthening of their knowledge about social enterprise management in the tourism industry, to exchange good practices between the communities, and also to provide the necessary tools to improve their tourism program. This experience allowed unique indigenous groups from different countries to interact and learn more about one another’s culture. With many of the community tourism leaders in Bolivia never travelling before, it was an experience of a lifetime to see a new culture from a traveller’s perspective.

The intern group included one community leader, the lodge manager, two women, and a youth leader. Before travelling, the interns took part in workshops to imagine the communities that they would visit, as well as how they envisioned their own own community enterprise growing in the coming years.

The interns lived as travellers for two days to understand how tourists feel in other countries and to experience the local services. Another day was spent learning about community tourism operations, and one day spent having meetings with other community leaders to better understand how they are managing their tourism business through training modules provided by the Planeterra field team. The interns also visited the G Adventures local office in Cusco – giving them a better overview of the logistics that go behind an effective tourism program.

It was an amazing trip because some community members had never travelled before, and they were feeling nervous, shy, and excited to see and talk with their peers for first time. After the internship experience, they were able to communicate their experiences to the rest of their community: Interns presented what they learned with the help of facilitators showing photographs and videos to convey what they learned.

They worked all together on a plan to improve their community business; including a list of possible actions and needs for the community. These plans are being used to create a robust improvement plan to better the services provided at Jukil Community Lodge in the future.

The internship program provided community leaders with a space for sharing experiences and lessons learned for their community enterprises, and to reflect on challenges and opportunities. It also provided an opportunity to analyze and understand tourism dynamics and the potential impact on the social, cultural, economic and environmental dimension of community life.

As manager for the region, Joel Callanaupa stated that “Seeing their smiles and excited conversations with other communities Planeterra works with, as well as the interaction between distinct indigenous communities, was incredibly meaningful, and unforgettable.”



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Tree Planting at Ubuntu

The staff at G Adventures’ Safari Central office made the most of Earth Week by planning a very special visit to our partners at Café Ubuntu, located just outside of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. Café Ubuntu is a restaurant and workshop which supports a special needs school and local women whose children are living with disabilities. The visiting G Adventures’ staff got their hands dirty by planting trees on the café’s property, and experienced the tour all travellers get when they go to Café Ubuntu, including a delicious meal.

Check out the photos below to see the amazing time had by all – all while making a positive impact on the planet! Visiting a Planeterra project is not just a great way to support a local social enterprise, but also a great bonding opportunity!  






How did you celebrate Earth Week this year? Let us know in the comments!

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An Alternative Tour of Delhi

Walking through the streets of Delhi, guided by Ruhi, I am shown what life is like for children living on the streets in the crowded city. Running away from desperate circumstances – be it poverty, abuse or child marriage – a child arriving alone in Delhi is left vulnerable to gangs, child labour and substance abuse.

While on the walking tour, Ruhi talks about how children often end up begging or selling items on the street, only to spend that money on substances and entertainment. Children are not taught to save, and can often find food for free at different temples across the city. Children come to Delhi to find freedom, yet the freedom they find often leads them into a vicious cycle of poverty.

When Ruhi was only a young girl her parents could no longer take care of her. They could not afford the expense of another child in the home. At this time, she was placed into the girl’s shelter home with Salaam Baalak Trust (SBT). SBT has six homes for children across Delhi where they provide children with the education, nutrition and care they could not find on the streets.

Ruhi is now in class 10 and has been working as a tour guide with SBT for the past year. Here she is able to interact with travellers from all around the world, teach them about life for street youth in Delhi, and share her own story. Through this experience she is able to build her confidence and practice her English speaking skills in a safe environment.

Part of Planeterra’s partnership with SBT sees 3,500 G Adventures travellers participate in the City Walk tour every single year. Tour guides from SBT have gone on to work with travel agencies all across Delhi and have even qualified for scholarship programs globally thanks to their improved confidence and English skills gained through the program.

As Ruhi finishes her education in the coming years, she can continue working with the City Walk program as a guide. This will help her to earn the income she needs to begin living independently from the shelter.

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