As Intrepid marks its 21st year in the travel game, co-founder Geoff Manchester (Manch) sits down with Jen Hall, Intrepid UK’s Online Sales Manager, to reflect on some of his most memorable Intrepid moments. From spending time with mountain gorillas to eating pig blood salad… and the reasons why he’s still very passionate about the Intrepid way of doing things…
1. What’s the most amazing thing you’ve seen, that you think should be on everyone’s ‘bucket list’?
Seeing the mountain gorillas in Congo, Uganda or Rwanda. Being carefully watched by the gorillas from just metres away, observing their hands which are just like ours, watching the young gorillas annoy a silverback, having an adult gorilla come an sit right next to me while my fellow travellers tell me not to move so they can take photos. There was no way I was moving!
Thanks to the contributions of many Intrepid travellers to Vietnam, last year we raised AU$32,940 for the Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation. Half of this amount was raised through Intrepid travellers and supporters and it was matched dollar for dollar by Intrepid Travel. Michael Brosowski at Blue Dragon has recently sent us an update of the marvellous work they are doing…
“Funds from the Intrepid Foundation have been critical in enabling Blue Dragon to run its Step Ahead program for street children in Hanoi. Our drop-in centre is unique in Hanoi; there is no other centre where any disadvantaged children can freely come to play, have a meal, and talk to social workers or psychologists. The centre is based in a rented building near the Red River, where thousands of rural-urban migrant families and children live in slums.
Waka waka! With World Cup fever upon us let’s really make it ‘this time for Africa’. The Intrepid Foundation is very pleased to announce its newest beneficiary: Thusanani Children’s Foundation. Thusanani works at a grassroots level in South Africa to ensure a brighter future for babies and young children who have been orphaned through HIV/AIDS, abandonment or abusive home environments.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic in South Africa is widespread and vast numbers of people are suffering. A national survey found the HIV/AIDS prevalence in females is 62% higher than males and therefore South Africa stands to lose too many mothers. This results in a growing number of orphaned and vulnerable children.
A very big thank-you to the many donors to Intrepid’s Peru Floods Appeal. Along with matching funds from Intrepid Travel, The Intrepid Foundation is very pleased to have raised AU$40,000 for the work of Plan in the Cuzco region.
A quick recap of events: This year’s rainy season led to devastating flooding and landslides in Peru. In the Cuzco region, rain falling since January 2010 caused 3 major rivers to burst their banks, several areas including Zurite were hit by landslides and an entire town in Quispicanchis province virtually disappeared. In the weeks following the initial disaster, intense rainfall led to further devastation, particularly in the Taray district. At least 27 people have died, more than 10,000 homes destroyed or seriously damaged leaving thousands homeless and there has been widespread destruction of infrastructure and crop loss.
You’ve made many children and elephants in Thailand very happy! Thanks to everyone who joined in our Twitter and Facebook campaign to raise money for Thai charities impacted by the recent unrest in Bangkok. Since 21 May we got a great 458 ‘likes’ and re-tweets, so to show our appreciation Intrepid Travel is doubling the money raised and rounding it up to a cool $1000 (to be split between both charities).
Intrepid’s pledge was to donate $1 to selected Thai charities for every Twitter post re-tweet and for every person who selects that they ‘like’ Intrepid’s status update on Facebook. “We’re concerned that a lack of tourists means that these charities miss out on valuable donations that help them operate on a day-to-day basis,” said Eliza Anderson, spokesperson for Intrepid Travel. “We are praying for a peaceful resolution to the current situation but in the meantime are asking people to help ensure these charities continue to receive support.”
During the recent unrest in Thailand we caught up with our two Intrepid Foundation beneficiary charities, to see how they are faring: Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE) and Baan Unrak Children’s Village.
Soraida Salwala, the Founder of FAE writes: “I went to Bangkok for FAE bank transactions but became stuck and unable to return. I had to rely on working by SMS and email, however I talked to Motala and Mosha via mobile phone. My staff had the speaker on and held the phone near them. They were surprised at first but became used to hearing my voice over that small object. Motala reaches her trunk and touches the phone. Mosha will have her trunk up in reply to my greetings “Sawasdee kha!”
For 13 years now Intrepid is proud to have supported the great work of the Fred Hollows Foundation (FHF), in restoring sight and improving eye health across Indochina. In recent years The Intrepid Foundation’s contributions have gone towards some of their fantastic work in Cambodia and Daniel Martin at FHF has recently updated us on their progress…
“I am very proud to report that the program in Cambodia was a great success in 2009, partly due to great support received by Intrepid. Some of the key achievements of The Fred Hollows Foundation Cambodia Program in 2009 include:
- 48,169 people screened
- 4,470 cataract and 1,398 other sight-restoring surgeries performed
- 5,432 spectacles distributed
- 6 surgeons and 11 mid-level personnel clinically trained
- 357 community health workers trained
- 445 people attending continuing education
- 1 new secondary eye unit constructed
- AU$377,817 of equipment supplied.
Sitting on little plastic stools and drinking from thick glasses with more imperfections and bubbles than the beer they hold, this is what Intrepid’s Bruce McPhie loves about enjoying a Bia Hoi in Vietnam…
“Xin chao, Bia Hoi, hello!” Over the non-stop horns and rumble of Hanoi’s crazy street traffic, the man’s voice booms out. I glance across to the other side of the road, being careful not to walk into a weaving motorbike or a street seller with loaded bamboo pole strung across her shoulders, but I already know the owner of the voice and his familiar call. With fond memories, I acknowledge his friendly smile and wave, as he stands in his old black suit on the opposite pavement.
We are delighted to be returning to Timor-Leste in 2010 with 4 departures from July to September. Places are filling fast as the word spreads that Timor has the welcome mats back out, and our friends across the country are eager to see Intrepid travellers again.
Jane Crouch, our Responsible Travel Manager and resident Timor-phile took a world music choir over to tour the country last August. Jane writes, “It was simply sensational returning after a two-and-a-half year absence. As we travelled around many of my favourite communities across the country, and visited some that were new to me, my heart and soul were filled with the feeling that we were in the right places at the right time. At our gig in Baucau, Timor’s second largest town, around 400 people of all ages came out for the evening and joined in the dance and songs of the 5 performing groups. At a smaller gathering in Los Palos in the east, after we sang the moving song Walk With Me, we were overwhelmed when a young musician said “We want you to walk with us.”
Intrepid Travel is currently looking into publishing our first Sustainability Report which will give our people (i.e YOU!) an insight into how the company is managing its impacts on the environment, society, the communities we operate in and more. But we need YOUR help.
Please assist us by sharing your thoughts and as thanks for completing our survey you could WIN a carbon offset trip in Thailand!