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?
It’s just 5 weeks to the end of The Intrepid Foundation’s financial year – a time when we tally up all the travellers’ donations received in the last 12 months and Intrepid Travel doubles it by matching donations. Then we speak with 50 fabulous organisations to let them know the good news of how much of their work we are able to support. Jane Crouch, Intrepid’s Responsible Travel Manager, shares the joy of this role…
“I was just talking with the ever-smiling Rith, from Ptea Teuk Dong in Battambang, Cambodia, yesterday and he gave me an update on their marvellous vocational programs for vulnerable young women in their community. Their programs include literacy, vegetable cultivation, sewing and weaving, as well as hospitality training. Rith says they have approximately 30 girls in their programs now, but the demand and need is huge, and with more funding they can build their capacity to take up to 80 girls.
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.
When you are trekking the Inca Trail at an average altitude of 3700m, it’s very comforting to know that you have a crew keeping you safe, preparing your meals, pitching your tent and carrying the bulk of your load!
Of the 500 trekkers a day on the classic Inca Trail trek and on the alternative routes, more than half the trekkers are the guides, cooks and porters, who help travellers have an enjoyable trek up to the magnificent and sacred site of Machu Picchu.