Rebuild local communities during the pandemic
Supporting local communities while looking at rebuilding business coming out of this pandemic.
This pandemic has just shown us once more how big our responsibility is towards the people we work with. It’s our full-time staff, but also our freelance guides and drivers, as well as the small locally owned businesses or NGOs we work with or the communities we visit regularly. Without being able to send our clients there and without being able to provide income for our partners, they are the ones suffering the most. Unfortunately, the support systems from local governments are very limited in all of our destinations, especially for any informal or freelance workers. Our products and services really depend on local communities and local guides, they are making out tours what they are and it’s very difficult for us to see them suffer right now.
We want to introduce two projects we have been working on in Myanmar. Once borders were shut and we had no clients on ground anymore, our teams came together to discuss the current situation. We wanted to keep our staff busy, so that they actually had something they were looking forward to when getting up in the morning and something they were proud of achieving. At the same time, we wanted to find a way to support the people we have such good relationships with but who were suffering extremely during the lockdowns.
The first project is called Honey Bee Arts & Crafts. In many of the communities we visit with our clients, we find extremely talented artisans. They produce beautiful crafts and souvenirs, showing the local culture and using traditional materials. So without any tourists visiting, they don’t have any source of income. Our team started putting together an online platform, providing an opportunity for our local partners to sell their products worldwide. So instead of bringing the tourists to the products, our idea was to bring the products to the tourists. All products are made out of more sustainable, but still traditional materials: you find bamboo, paper mâché, recycled plastic, or coconuts.
The second project is called Ku Mel, which means “We will help” in English. Again, this project was an idea from our staff in Myanmar looking at the current situation: And they realized the importance of volunteers. Many local projects and NGOs can’t afford to hire full-time staff or pay for the expertise they need. At the same time, many young Burmese are looking to gain more work experience and develop their skills further, when educational programs might be lacking. KuMel is a free platform, connecting organizations and volunteers. The Khiri team works with many local NGOs and communities, so they have a vast network of partners and a good understanding of their needs. They used that knowledge to create a database of projects, which is shared with anyone enthusiastic about helping out. And there’s already a huge selection of projects available: You can find projects working on waste management, tree planting, or in animal shelters. Other vacancies are at a mobile soup kitchen for people in need, or at projects supporting the elderly or people with disabilities.
Both these projects found a way to create additional income or much needed support for communities in need. The local teams developing these projects have worked extremely hard on the execution. There was a lot where they had to learn themselves, for example setting up a website or starting a fundraising campaign. They used this time not only to support communities in need, but also to develop their own personal skills too. They take ownership of the projects and are extremely proud of what they have achieved and how they are able to support their home country.