Working together with local communities to create positive change
“Never doubt a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” (Margaret Mead). And yes we have.
4 Countries – 3 Continents – 9 Travelers – 8 Weeks – 4 Successfully completed projects
In an open innovation format, our community generated over 60 ideas and we realized the 4 most promising projects. The idea is that travel can change lives for the better – for travelers and locals. The question was “How can we travel to create a positive impact on the lives of local communities?” The answer is 4 successfully accomplished projects creating positive change through purposeful traveling!
Situation: With Kenya’s highest rate of infection, the Nyanza Province faces high mortality rates, large numbers of AIDS orphans, and poor educational opportunities. The Society Empowerment Project (SEP) works closely with AIDS awareness groups, treatment groups, and local schools to provide young people with training to reduce the level of infection.
Goals: Use football to attract the youth 10-18 years of age. Equip attendees with life skills, sports leadership experience, and management training. Convey the importance of basic hygiene and teach the children proper hand washing techniques. Reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS by providing health information. Promote educational opportunities and encourage gender equality and equity.
Travelers activities: Train community members as safe water treatment and hand washing specialists empowering them to educate others • Involve community members in production of liquid soap • Provide a learning experience to visitors and participating soccer teams through activities such as the glitter game • Demonstrate the use of improvised water containers and lecture on preventing water born diseases
Change accomplished: We reached around 400 young community members directly through educational experiences which fostered knowledge about safe hygiene practices. We also reached another 150 people through SEP’s network by training 50 SEP members as educators on basic life skills that prevent water-borne diseases.
Nina, our traveler from the US, says: “My experience in Kenya was absolutely amazing and perfect. I wouldn’t change anything for this experience enhanced my personal growth as a future public health professional with the added bonus of simultaneously learning about an entirely new culture. Our host family, the Kiche’s were the upmost hospitable individuals whom we owe a great deal to for introducing the authentic Kenyan lifestyle to us.”
Horana, Sri Lanka
Situation: The small Pahala Naragala school had no electricity, no running water, and no nice toilet facilities. Due to the school’s poor infrastructure, there are only 16 children left attending the school regularly.
Goals: Improve the school’s infrastructure and enable access to running water for drinking and sanitation. Reduce the risk of contracting dengue and other communicable diseases through these efforts. Improve the health of the children and teachers alike.
Travelers activities: Install a pump, water tank, and pipes to connect the school to its well • Act as support staff for laying pipes, cement work, and digging • Educate the children and local community on the importance of safe drinking water • Paint the school • Provide fun to learn activities as part of an educational program for the children
Change accomplished: Completed the schools water tank and plumbing, connected the electricity, and constructed the toilet. We also painted the walls, cut the grass, and taught the children about hygiene and sustainable water use. The school can now operate with electricity and running water. The teachers and children are absolutely thrilled – now they can see in the classrooms when it rains and drink clean water and stay dry when it pours-outside
Lavanya, our traveler from Malaysia, says: “They’re just like you and I when we were kids. What sets us apart is that we lucked out with a solid foundation and we were surrounded by people who believed in us and pushed us toward realizing our dreams. If these kids had more people telling them, “yes, you can” rather than “no, you can’t”, they would have won half the battle.”
Situation: There is a limited economic opportunity for the youth in areas where families derive most of their income from the fishing industry. In these areas, education is not viewed as a national priority. The Municipality in Lobitos, Peru identified surf tourism as a key area for economic development. Furthering economic development in this new sector can foster growth and in turn, appreciation for education.
Goals: Create life-enriching experiences in coastal communities through educational programs that develop youth into healthy & empowered adults. Foster “Surf Voluntourism” programs that engage travelers & transform their views of the world and themselves.
Travelers activities: Assist in English lessons • Support environmental conservation classes and beach management courses • Help with social entrepreneurship projects • Teach swimming and surfing • Conduct a personal project: built a skateboard ramp
Change accomplished: We supported all ongoing projects being implemented by WAVES for Development, our partner organization. These projects directly address the educational and economic needs of the local community. We not only contributed to educational activities but also created a direct economic activity for businesses and families living in Lobitos. We also fostered a shift in the mentality of the local community by empowering the locals through surfing. Locals view visiting surfers as powerful, full of money and knowledge. We showed them, through specialization and training, they too can have strong successful futures. In addition to these impacts, the cultural exchange, friendship, and understanding created between the travelers and the community members of Lobitos enriched the lives of all involved.
Tristan, our traveler from the US, says: “I realized that to empower people you must work together with them, show them the power of change. Handouts keep people on the frying pan, simmering, but usually dry up and leave them with nothing more than when the aid program began. On the other hand, collaborating with the communities and people you want to help does work. They realize that we’re all the same, some of us have opportunities here or there, but we are all capable of anything we put our mind to – rich or poor. What have I learned? Never underestimate someone. If you do, you’ll never be surprised.”
Islands of Amazonia/ Belem, Brazil
Situation: Amazonia is a beautiful region with numerous islands, winding rivers, and lush jungle. Despite this natural wealth the local people are truly dependent on the outside world. Their communities are only accessible by boat. Electricity arrived on the islands only a few months ago, allowing their first access to comforts like air conditioning and connectivity with the rest of the world.
Goals: Utilize music and the arts to inspire children and the local community. Create awareness and cultivate understanding about the importance of protecting the rainforest, rivers, and the people living there.
Travelers activities: Provide English and German lessons • Teach music and art classes • Give musical instrument lessons • Support music performances and art therapy courses • Improve infrastructure through basic construction projects • Educate children on the importance of safe drinking water and hygiene • Create an atmosphere that nurtures cultural exchange
Change accomplished: Together with the AmazonArt team we traveled to many different islands and reached out to several hundred community members. We used music as the medium to touch the lives of many, both young and old. Everyone was inspired by the music! The local communities showed an enhanced sense of pride, togetherness, and hope stemming from our desire and interest, as foreigners, in visiting their remote homes.
Alison, our traveler from the UK, says: “Its incredible to actually meet and spend time with altruistic people such as those from AmazonArt, and friends. I’ve learnt that the area is extremely important to most people, their lifeline, as well as the Worlds. I’ve also learnt that Brazilians are proud, respectful, loving and musical people and I’m extremely glad to now know a handful of them. It’s so important to use your time in foreign countries to do good, to help, to truly interact with people and communities, to travel2change.”
We want to thank everyone for their great work before, during and after the projects to make this successful! And we further want to thank our supporter Kuoni to make all the change we created possible!
Stay tuned and be part of the next challenge coming soon! There is more travel2change!