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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



About Planeterra

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

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

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

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

Community tourism celebrating the San

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

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

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

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

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