Each year, Earth Day gives us an opportunity to reflect on all that we can do to help conserve, protect, and heal our home planet. Heeding the maxim “think globally and act locally,” we at Country Walkers search for small ways to make a difference in our office, from reducing paper use to bicycling to work each day. But of course, as a travel company, “acting locally” can mean contributing to efforts far from our Vermont home. From villages in Peru to the coastline in Cornwall, there are communities and projects that connect with us the world over. On behalf of every guest, we donate to special projects in the regions where we travel. What can travel with Country Walkers help support? Here are some causes that will benefit from your reservation.
CLEAN WATER IN ZAMBIA
In Africa, currently 345 million people live without access to clean drinking water. We’re doing our best to change this. Together with our local partners in Zambia at “Charity Begins at Home,” we support the “Commit to Clean Water” Fund. This initiative seeks to transform rural communities by drilling wells into deep aquifers and pumping potable water to the surface. Country Walkers has funded the creation of four such wells, each benefiting a village of 70 or more people. It’s easy to see what an impact this has had, in the smiles on locals’ faces (see above).
CHILDREN’S AFTER-SCHOOL PROGRAM IN PERU
In the small village of Cochirhuay, a rural town high in the Andes Mountains of Peru the “Biblioteca Project” is working to enrich the education of students ages 5-11 through an innovative after-school program. By helping students plan and create short films, the project hopes to improve their reading comprehension, creativity, communication, and critical thinking. Country Walkers is helping to provide a teacher and essential materials like cameras, poster paper, markers, colored pencils, notebooks, and pencils (including those used to create the images above). For more information on this project or to make a donation, please visit the Alma Foundation to learn more.
MOUNTAIN RESCUE AT CLUB ALPINO ITALIANO
We put safety first on the Amalfi Coast: Country Walkers supports the local mountain rescue team. The trails and ridges of the Sorrentine Peninsula, above the busy coast, are surprisingly unpopulated and represent a large area for the local mountain search and rescue corps to service. Mainly relying on volunteers and charitable giving, the rescue team depends on contributions to obtain and maintain equipment for rapid emergency response to visitors and locals alike.
A RICE BANK IN PUNAKHA, BHUTAN
In Bhutan, we’re proud to fund a project called the Punakha Rice Bank, which is managed by VAST (Voluntary Artist Studio Thimpu). Poor farmers in Punakha have to borrow rice from wealthy farmers, but many of these poor farmers are not able to pay back the loan, as their full annual production goes toward paying off the interest rather than the original loan. Through the Rice Bank project, poor farmers are loaned rice without interest, allowing them, over time, to not only pay back in full the rice they borrowed from the wealthy farmers, but also return the rice they have been loaned from the Rice Bank—thus making it available to loan to others. On tour, our guests get a chance to walk through the village where this project is based and to meet the farmers who are given valuable aid through this important initiative.
WILDLIFE CONSERVATION IN THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS
The section of the Rocky Mountains stretching from the Yukon to Wyoming has the potential to be the largest connected patch of wilderness in North America—a superhighway for migratory animals and vital habitat for bears, birds, and more. However, isolated roads and towns segment this area into smaller sections. The Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative seeks to re-connect these pieces, allowing the animals to safely move from region to region on wildlife-friendly highway overpasses. Country Walkers contributes towards the construction of one of these wildlife crossing structures. We invite you to learn more at y2y.net.
THERAPEUTIC TRAVEL FOR CANCER SURVIVORS IN QUEBEC
We proudly support the Foundation Sur La Pointe des Pieds (“On the Tip of the Toes”) in Quebec. The objective of the program is to provide young people (ages 14 to 29) living with cancer with an opportunity to regain their sense of well-being through therapeutic adventure expeditions. Each trip is free of charge to participants and includes activities such as canoeing, kayaking, sailing, and hiking in the summer and dogsledding, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling in the winter. These tours are fully supervised by medical personnel and outdoor experts. They’re a chance to make nature accessible to young people with cancer and show them they can live extraordinary adventures and accomplish great things—each trip tailored to their capacities. The organization’s name comes from a comment made by a Quebecois explorer, who was asked by a child how one becomes an “explorer.” He answered: “When I was your age, I rose on the tip of my toes and found out that I could see further…” We invite you to learn more at pointedespieds.com.
CONSERVING A HISTORIC CHAPEL IN MONTEROSSO
On a bluff just outside of Monterosso, the historic Convento dei Cappuccini chapel and monastery boasts a history dating back to the 17th century and art treasures by the likes of Van Dyck and Strozzi. A local cultural hub, it has played host to concerts, conferences, and theatrical performances for the surrounding community and has been beloved by locals for its seaside garden, orchards, and vineyards. However, in March 2013, severe landslides destroyed the convent’s beautiful grounds. Though the cost of restoring the “paradise of the monks” was far beyond the modest means of the town or diocese, the project “Let’s Rebuild Monterosso’s Paradise” was soon created to begin raising money. Country Walkers is proud to contribute to this rebuilding project.
CORNWALL WILDLIFE TRUST
The Cornwall Wildlife Trust seeks to protect the regions valuable coast through their “Living Seas Program,” which collects data about local marine life, raises awareness about threats, and campaigns for better protection of species and habitats. Among many other initiatives, they gather data on seabeds through diving surveys, collect sightings of larger animals through their Sea Quest Southeast Project, and work to map intertidal habitats of the entire coastline from Bude to Land’s End. Country Walkers is proud to assist this organization’s efforts on behalf of every Cornwall guest. We encourage all visitors to help them with their efforts by reporting all marine animals spotted while out on the trail to their website.
PROTECTING CORCOVADO NATIONAL PARK
We proudly donate to the Corcovado Foundation in Costa Rica. Working closely with the National Park Service, the organization aims to increase the protection of wild areas while also promoting environmental education. Originally created to put a stop to illegal hunting and logging in the Corcovado National Park, the foundation also serves to protect the rights of local communities by using responsible tourism as a tool to help protect Costa Rica’s wild resources. We invite you to learn more at corcovadofoundation.org.