Africa provides a wonderful experience for travellers, but of course one is always aware of the problems suffered by many people living there. Tourism can help to alleviate poverty by creating all manner of work – it is estimated that eight tourists to Africa create the equivalent of one full-time job, and the income from work supports extended families.
However, we are often asked to recommend charities to our customers that we feel are making a real difference.
These are all small charities that receive very limited funding and have to make every penny stretch as far as possible. In each case, we have personal knowledge of the work that they do and feel that they are making an effective difference on the ground.
Akany Avoko, just outside Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar, began as a refuge for homeless and destitute young girls. Administered by Money for Madagascar, the centre now also caters for their brothers. It offers shelter, care, education and the opportunity to develop new skills and knowledge to about 130 children. It is not a sad place. Children from desperate situations are supported in transforming their lives. Akany Avoko offers all levels of education and helps them to grow into happier, more able people.
Akany Avoko promotes environmentally sound ways of improving life in Madagascar. The aim is for self-sufficiency. It embraces alternative technologies and is discovering ways to beat the poverty that is threatening to destroy Madagascar’s unique unique environment and culture. Tourism projects are a very important element in this.
Being close to the capital, the centre receives international visitors.
In the UK Akany Avoko is represented by the registered charity Money for Madagascar No. 1001420
Money for Madagascar also works with the inspiring NGO Association Mitsinjo.
In the Andasibe-Mantadia region, Association Mitsinjo administers a 700ha concession consisting of rainforest and an abandoned timber plantation that they are restoring to indigenous forest. To date the NGO has planted more than 1 million trees, the aim being to create forest corridors linking isolated fragments of rainforest so that wildlife populations can move between these and strengthen genetic diversity. Aside from wonderful wildlife watching in what is the country's number 1 'must see' rainforest wildlife hotspot, visitors are encouraged to help offset their carbon footprints by planting an endangered endemic tree as part of the reforestation programme.
Canon Collins Trust
Canon Collins Trust is a charity founded in 1981 by the British Defence and Aid Fund for Southern Africa. Named after it's first Chairman Canon John Collins who died in 1982, its object was to assist South African and Namibian refugee students to gain the higher education and training denied them under the apartheid system. Students attended institutions in the United Kingdom and in independent African states.
In 1990, following the release of Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners and the unbanning of anti-apartheid organisations, Canon Collins Trust developed a scholarship programme in South Africa, mainly at Historically Disadvantaged Institutions (HDIs). Individual black students were supported mostly on science and education courses at a range of universities and technikons. At the same time the study programme in the United Kingdom was continued.
Today Canon Collins Trust aims to build the knowledge and skills of local people and community organisations so that they can help build a better future in 10 southern African countries: Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
As the biggest and one of the only non-governmental providers of postgraduate scholarships to southern Africa, Canon Collins Trust works to train managers, economists, teachers, health professionals, civil servants, and a range of skilled personnel, in order to contribute to the development of the region. In the last 15 years Canon Collins Trust has provided over 3,000 postgraduate scholarships.
Canon Collins Trust is a UK registered charity No. 11022028
Forest Peoples Project
The lands and resources of forest peoples around the world are threatened by logging, mining, oil, gas, hydropower and the expansion of agriculture, as well as wildlife conservation projects. Millions of indigenous and tribal peoples are affected by these activities but their voices are seldom heard by the policy makers and enterprises that decide the fate of the forests.
In most countries, indigenous peoples are the poorest sectors of society, least able to access education, health care, employment and justice. They are often subjected to ethnic discrimination, social exclusion and arbitrary violence. Few governments have policies to redress these inequities.
Forest peoples need support to conserve their lands and their resources and to develop sustainable activities that strengthen their communities, protect the environment and reduce poverty. In areas where forests have been destroyed, forest peoples need alternative livelihoods and support for forest restoration.
The Forest Peoples Project was set up in 1999 as the charitable arm of the Forest Peoples Programme, to improve social, economic and environmental conditions for indigenous and tribal forest peoples worldwide.
In Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Forest Peoples Project works with the Batwa, the indigenous "Pygmy" peoples of the forests, who have been completely dispossessed of their forest lands through clearance of forest for agriculture, development projects and conservation areas and can no longer practice forest-based livelihoods. The majority are landless and desperately poor. In the course of this work with destitute people who face a daily struggle for survival, they have discovered that their work on rights must be accompanied by improvements in peoples' livelihoods. This gives families and communities the incentives and wherewithal to assert and claim their rights.
Forest Peoples Project is a UK registered charity No. 1082158
Survivors Fund exists to rebuild a sense of self and trust in humanity among the survivors of the Rwandan genocide.
For more than nine years Survivors Fund has helped survivors of the Rwandan genocide deal with and recover from the tragedies of 1994, supporting a wide range of services for victims in Rwanda, and assisting survivors in the UK. Funded by a variety of organizations and individuals, SURF acts as a channel to distribute financial assistance to groups, individuals and charitable organisations in the day-to-day operations of bringing the people of Rwanda hope, safety, and a decent standard of living.
A veteran in dealing with the issues effecting the survivors, SURF holds the belief that support must address the host of difficulties and issues facing victims. Any one angle of assistance on its own, be it medical, economic or social, would be an incomplete answer. SURF provides an appropriate and integrated response to the needs of Rwandan survivors by supporting numerous projects geared at confronting the diversity of their needs.
SURF is a UK registered charity No. 1065705
Tourism Concern is a campaigning organisation and membership network that has been fighting exploitation in tourism for over 20 years. They believe that holidays should be as good for the people in destinations as they are for us. TC thinks that everyone - from travellers to tour operators to governments -should help in challenging and changing tourism.
Tourism generates huge wealth, and can be a force for good for millions living at destinations, but often they receive little. TC campaigns for changes in policy and behaviour, to put money into local pockets and to share resources fairly.
Tourism Concern campaigns to:
- improve working conditions at holiday destinations – for example, as a result of their campaign on behalf of porters, more than 40 UK trekking companies signed up to a code protecting porters’ rights
- draw attention to injustices such as the banishing of local fishermen from beaches to make way for hotels and resorts
- give a voice to local communities, like the people who are forced to leave their land to make way for safari parks and golf courses
- influence government policy – making sure destinations don’t suffer unnecessarily as a result of FCO travel advisories
- defend local people – ensuring they get a fair share of natural resources such as water
Tourism Concern also produces The Ethical Travel Guide promoting more than 300 tourism initiatives worldwide, which directly benefit host communities.
Tourism Concern is a registered UK charity No. 1064020