Women Travel for Peace: Community-Based Tourism Helping Women Worldwide

Women Travel for Peace: Community-Based Tourism Helping Women Worldwide

Women Travel for Peace

By Linda Rivero, President and Founder, Women Travel for Peace

 

As our ferry approached the opposite shore of Senegal's Soungrougrou River, the air began to throb with rhythmic drumming. Waving arms and brilliant smiles beckoned to us. The stunning village women, dressed in their dazzlingly colorful boubous, ran to us singing and clapping as we disembarked.

 

We were the five women who had traveled to Senegal with Women Travel for Peace. Our goal: to fund and help construct a sturdy, concrete well for the women's farming collective. While this project had begun several months before our arrival with village meetings and discussion, on this, our last day in the village, we were all ready to inaugurate and celebrate our much needed contribution.

 

Women Travel for Peace's community-based tourism enables women from the industrialized world to work side-by-side with women in the developing world in support of a community project improving the lives of women and children. The projects we contribute to are locally chosen. In this case, the women of this small farming collective had met several months earlier to determine what our contribution would be. After much discussion, they decided that of all the needs on their list, their most pressing was a well.

 

Water is a precious commodity in this village, as in much of Africa. It feeds families and clothes children. But these farming women depend on a sprinkling of hand-dug wells that are spotty in their performance: they cave in during the rains, becoming unusable for 3-4 months a year. The women visiting with Women Travel for Peace would provide financing for the new concrete well in addition to some final physical labor. In the meantime, Women Travel for Peace colleagues in Senegal would work with village leaders to organize construction logistics.

 

In rural Senegal, the women are the field laborers—as well as the cooks, wood-carriers, nurturers of children, and housekeepers. They're up at dawn; then off to the fields in early morning after feeding children and husband, cleaning house, and praying; and they return home at 7 or 8 in the evening. In other words, these women spend 10-12 hours each day hauling water and doing back-breaking field work to cultivate their crops.

 

In founding Women Travel for Peace, I held two objectives: 1) to create travel experiences for women that finance and physically support a community-based project chosen by and directly benefiting local women and their children, and 2) to nurture communication among all the women.

 

This is the rationale behind the language and cultural training we offer our travelers before departure. Our goal is to create an atmosphere of mutual growth, learning and sharing so two disparate worlds may connect for the deep and lasting benefit of all. Those who join Women Travel for Peace give their hearts and minds in addition to their resources, and the local women give their strength, dignity, and spiritual depth.

 

There is something magical in the inherent connection among women. We may not speak the same language, but we communicate: we cook together, we work together, we adjust each other's moussaur (headdress), we laugh. And how we dance and sing! This natural connection and caring is the foundation of Women Travel for Peace. From this resonance come long lasting, measurable improvement in the lives of women and children and life-changing growth for all involved.

 

 

About TIES


As the world's oldest and largest international ecotourism association, TIES seeks to be the global source of knowledge and advocacy uniting communities, conservation, sustainable travel..

 

 

 

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The Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference will highlight global challenges and local opportunities, supporting sustainable development of tourism and promoting solutions that balance conservation, communities and sustainable travel.

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