Commemorated every year on 5 June, World Environment Day is one of the main ways the United Nations “stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and enhances political attention and action.” It’s also a day to remind us to take stock of our own behaviour, and that includes what we do when we’re travelling.
Whether we’re swimming in it, paddling on it, or drinking it – luxuriating in refreshing water can bring us infinite pleasure while we’re on holidays. But of course we don’t want it to be at the cost of the local residents. Nearly 3 billion people or half the world live in water-scarce conditions and people are travelling more than ever, so how can we be water wise when we’re away from home?
Kyila was raised in a remote village on the Tibetan plateau. Her father, her twin brothers and Kyila were all born blind. Villagers believed that the family were cursed. “Children didn’t want to play with us,” Kyila says, “adults would throw old food on our doorstep.” Today Kyila is the founder and principle of the first integrative kindergarten in China.
Here she teaches blind and sighted children to become confident, critical and alert little thinkers. “I want to prove that blindness is not a punishment! I am educated, I have travelled the world and I am the richest woman in my village, and this because I am blind.”
Emanuel ran away from home when he was just 11 years old. He was living in Northern Tanzania. His parents divorced when he was young and when his father remarried support stopped for Emanuel, his sister and their mother. To try to make ends meet, Emanuel’s mother would send the children to the street to beg, while she took up with various men. One long-term boyfriend was an alcoholic and beat Emanuel frequently. In 2009 Emanuel fled.
Emanuel was homeless for 6 months before coming to Amani Children’s Home. When he arrived, he could not read or write, but Emanuel proved to be bright and eager to learn. He is well-organised and meticulous with his school work and now, after 2 years in Amani’s program, he’s preparing to enter Grade 4.
Up until a couple of years ago, most children aged between three and five in rural villages in Laos were not attending preschool. This was largely due to the lack of facilities, trained teachers and learning materials, but also because most parents in rural Laos didn’t understand the importance of early childhood education for children.
Education is a key pathway to breaking the cycle of poverty. As one of the least developed countries in the world, Plan, with the support of SAMA, is working in northern Laos to provide children aged 0-8 years with support for their development. This is being done through education for parents on health, early stimulation and learning, access to quality formal and informal preschool services, as well as school readiness for older children.
In late January, when the 19th Egyptian Marathon took place in Luxor, one special entrant caused some surprise and consternation. In fact the policeman at the car park said that young Felix wasn’t allowed.
After much negotiation by Felix’s companion, Kim, he was able to proceed and win hearts along the way. You see Felix is an orphan and resident of Animal Care in Egypt (ACE). That’s right, Felix is a donkey!
If portering was an Olympic endurance event, the trekking porter would win all the medals for their weight-lifting skills. Celebrate and admire these incredible athletes of the mountains. Watch them in action, appreciate the balance, strength, endurance and their good nature, then try picking up a load yourself!
Portering is an important part of the economy in many popular hiking destinations. If you are off trekking in places like the Himalayas, Mt Kilimanjaro or shorter treks like on the Inca Trail in the Andes, employ porters, support the tradition and take good care of them. At Intrepid, we follow strict guidelines in how we recruit and care for porters. You can play an important part in this…
With 53,000,000 girls in developing countries being denied access to primary school, there’s no prize for guessing what type of future lies ahead for most of these young women. Gender inequality remains a massive issue, so Intrepid has partnered with Plan for project SAMA. Our aim is to bridge the gender gap through education and our first focus is establishing parenting and community learning groups in up to 45 villages in Laos.
Plan has had encouraging results with other programmes that instil gender equality at an early age and their initiative in El Salvador is an example of how education early in life is a great foundation for a more equal and violence-free society…
As a child, Miss Chanh felt hopeless. She was born with clubfeet and could not run around like the other kids. She had great difficulty walking and had to use crutches to move around. Chanh lives in the very beautiful and mountainous Oudomxay province in the north west of Laos.
Although the treatment now offered through the centres for babies born with clubfoot is non-invasive and highly successful, it was not available 20 years ago when Chanh was born. During her teens, Chanh received an orthotic, but over time it broke and was painful.
Phuong* ran away from home when he was 10 years old. He was born in the far north of Vietnam. His mother lives in China and his father sold him to an extended family member when he was just 7 years old. His adopted family treated him badly, and insisted that he work on the streets instead of going to school. Phuong ran away to Hanoi.
Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation staff met him in late 2011 at the local market. Sadly, they’ve been unable to locate a family member willing or able to take care of him. So now Phuong is living at Blue Dragon’s shelter in Hanoi where he’s being supported to go back to school. He’s a really happy, friendly kid and loves going to school every day.
May 20th this year marks the 10th Anniversary of the Restoration of Independence in Timor-Leste. There will be enormous celebrations and you could be there!
Our first Intrepid trip of the season starts on this anniversary, so it’s well worth arriving in the capital, Dili, a day or two early so you have plenty of time to kick up your heels with the locals. There’ll be parades, music and dancing in many of the districts, so no doubt the celebratory feel will carry on throughout Intrepid’s 15 day adventure.