From selling traditional crafts and designs made by local women to building a school for over 400 students in Mozambique, we are sincerely proud that many members of the JG Black Book Collection are making thoughtful efforts to enrich and support their local communities. Their efforts are not only made possible by the property or tour operator staff and leadership, but also through thoughtful donations of time and money, big and small, from guests and visitors. We’ve compiled a list to share nine examples of how our partners are making a difference by giving back to their local environments and communities. We hope by reading this, you’ll potentially be inspired to visit one of these incredible destinations for yourself and participate in these wonderful efforts!
1. Elewana Collection’s Land & Life Foundation: “Elewana” means harmony in Swahili, and the Elewana Collection believes in living up to its name by supporting its own charitable organisation, the Land & Life Foundation. Working with communities who live in or near the spectacular conservation areas of Kenya and Tanzania, Land & Life provides conservation education and infrastructural support for schools, as well as nature conservation programs and community health and medical support. The Wildlife Warrior Program runs a network of Wildlife Warrior Clubs, providing fun, interactive conservation activities for children. The brightest and the best receive scholarships for their secondary education through the Wildlife Warrior Scholarship Program, ensuring the conservationists of the future are able to complete their education and bring benefits back into their communities. Participating schools are provided with essential infrastructure such as new classrooms and dormitories, as well as resources and supplies like textbooks and sports equipment. Land & Life also runs a free annual medical camp in the Maasai Mara, bringing essential medical and dental care to the local community and contributing to the upkeep of the local clinic.
2. The Stafford London with The Royal Hospital Chelsea and Chelsea Pensioners: The Stafford London is proud to have a close relationship with The Royal Hospital Chelsea and Chelsea Pensioners. Once a month, a group of Chelsea Pensions are invited for lunch in The Game Bird restaurant, as well as to any events taking place at The Stafford. The Stafford has also taken The Game Bird over to the Royal Hospital Chelsea to those in the Margaret Thatcher Infirmary with a Christmas-themed Afternoon Tea.
3. Gangtey Lodge’s relationship with the local Shedra: The social responsibility focus at Gangtey Lodge is the local Shedra (Monk College), which is short walk from the lodge. Many of the activities, such as morning and evening prayers at the Shedra, meditation classes, private blessings with a Tulku (reincarnated master), are aimed at benefiting guests with their desire to learn more about the Buddhist monk way of life, as well as benefiting the Shedra through money raised from these activities. All money raised, including private guest donations, goes towards the improvement of the colleges (new classrooms, dormitories and temples) and the monks’ welfare (daily meals and warm robes for the winter). Beyond the money raised, the Gangtey Lodge staff also offers up their time to help with construction and to cook meals. The relationship between the Shedra and Gangtey Lodge is one that has been fostered over the last 4 years and is mutually beneficial and truly sustainable.
4. The Chedi Club Tanah Gajah’s Kecak Dance & Dinner: Ubud is the cultural centre of Bali and famous for its dances, and The Chedi Club Tanah Gajah is proud to host a dance troupe of boys and men from the local community who perform the Kecak dance. Enjoy a spectacular performance of dance to the chanting of anywhere between fifty and seventy men at our outdoor candle-lit amphitheater, followed by a Royal Balinese Dinner at The Restaurant. Performances are held every Tuesday and Friday at 7:00 pm.
5. Volcanoes Safaris’ Partnership Trust: The Volcanoes Safaris Partnership Trust (VSPT), is a non-profit organisation that connects Volcanoes Safaris’ Rwanda and Uganda luxury lodges to the neighboring communities and conservation activities. The VSPT aims to create long-term, self-sustaining projects that enrich the livelihoods of local communities, promote the conservation of the great apes, restore natural habitats and work with communities and institutions to reduce human-wildlife conflict. As part of their stay at Volcanoes Lodges, guests get an opportunity to visit VSPT projects and to share the lives of the local communities.
There are many VSPT projects in each of Volcanoes Safaris lodges, but certainly some of the most incredible ones are the Batwa Heritage Site and Vocational Centre and the new Batwa settlement under construction nearby Gahinga Lodge. The amazing and funky Bwindi Bar, a bar which gives training in hospitality to local disadvantaged youths and also won the 2016 PURE Community Engagement Award, nearby Bwindi Lodge. The Womens Omwani Coffee Cooperative nearby Kyambura Gorge Lodge, and the remarkable Sheep Donation Project at Virunga Lodge, which allows guests to donate a sheep to a local family to improve livelihood. The VSPT receives funding through Volcanoes Safaris, which contributes $100 from safari bookings, as well as private donations by our guests and others.
6. Micato Safaris’ AmericaShare: Micato Safaris has always aimed not only to be the world’s best safari outfitter, but to make a difference to the people and places they visit. The company’s non-profit arm, AmericaShare, was founded on that premise more than 30 years ago. Dedicated to helping populations in Nairobi, Kenya who have been affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, AmericaShare has made a tremendous impact by providing a bridge between children and women in need and Micato’s valued guests, travel advisors and other friends wishing to make a meaningful difference in Africa. Through their education, community outreach and economic empowerment programs, Micato-AmericaShare seeks to provide disadvantaged children and women with access to basic services in order to facilitate sustainable change.
Among Micato-AmericaShare’s major educational initiatives is a School Sponsorship Programme, which places vulnerable children in reputable boarding schools with the help of kind-hearted Micato travellers. And through The Micato One for One Commitment, the company will match every safari it sells with the payment of all school fees for a child in need… a child who would otherwise stay home due to extreme poverty. Learn more about Micato-AmericaShare supports local communities here.
7. The Ultimate Travelling Camp’s efforts: The Ultimate Travelling Camp (TUTC) is passionate about sustainability and believes in offering guests transformative experiences while nurturing the environment, creating economic value and enhancing people and the indigenous communities. Ecology, environment and economy form the core of their business endeavors.
TUTC identifies locals, mentors them and teaches skill sets to employ them in their restaurant and at their camps as guides. Local women lend their expertise to their organic garden and bake delicious local bread for their guests. TUTC also supports a nunnery, which offers guests a different perspective.
Women in Ladakh’s Zanskar region are taught the art of making woolen shawls, stoles and other winter wear. A designer trains them to work with coarse raw materials and traditional crafts and designs and TUTC purchases it at a fair price and sells them at their camps.
8. Azura Retreats’ Rainbow Fund: Azura Retreat’s Rainbow Fund is the first registered charity of its kind in Mozambique. It supports a variety of social and environmental projects both large and small, from building schools, to environmental protection initiatives.
At Azura Benguerra, the funds collected from the Rainbow Fund initiative have built their first school which educates around 400 children (only 40 when they started), and provides teachers with housing blocks. They’ve also sponsored a local football team!
At Azura Quilalea, Azura works alongside the National Park and the local communities to protect the reefs from fishermen. Their recent project was building a school for the local community on the Quirimbas Archipelago. They have had many generous donations, like uniforms and clothes for the children, stationary for the school, and food for the community. Their next project is a much needed health clinic, for which they are currently raising funds. Azura Retreats offers guests the opportunity to add $10 a night to their stay towards the Rainbow Fund. It’s not compulsory, but a way to give back during your stay with Azura.
9. Condor Travel’s Wings: The Mullak’as Misminay community within the Sacred Valley of the Incas is a town that preserves traditions inherited from the Incas. Communication with the cosmos and the environment is an integral part of their lifestyle. Through its NGO, Wings, Condor Travel offers tourists the chance to participate in different activities hosted by families in the community – even the option to spend the night in a typical family home! Visitors are invited to experience a unique and wonderful world, where they can learn how to make beautiful textiles, work with plants and even pay tribute to Mother Earth. Each visit to the community largely contributes to the town’s development, while at the same time helping to preserve their ancient culture and customs. Since 1998, the Mullak’as Misminay Program has helped the community grow, giving visitors as well as locals a fulfilling and enriching experience.