One of the reasons I picked G Adventures to travel with is that I knew they were heavily involved with giving back and helping the communities they bring travelers to through their non-profit organization, Planeterra. When you travel alone, it’s easy to make sure you are supporting local businesses and the communities you’re visiting, but as a group, I was concerned that effort would be lost. Thankfully, G Adventures is a huge advocate for responsible travel, and I felt reassured on the entire trip with the places we were visiting and supporting.
When I booked my trip to India and Nepal, I noticed something on the itinerary that I was extremely interested in getting to experience—a visit to the SASANE Project in Pokhara, Nepal. SASANE is a survivor-led organization that was established in 2008 for women survivors of human trafficking to have an outlet to combat the exploitation of Nepalese women and girls and create social change. The organization is now in Kathmandu, Pokhara and seven village areas (the rural communities often suffer the most) and the organization has four key programs to help empower women and make a change.
SASANE’s paralegal program is what the organization started with and trains survivors to become certified paralegals so they can then provide free access to their services to other survivors. Only 10% of all survivors in Nepal filed complaints against traffickers, and by giving survivors a safe and understanding place to come to, SASANE will hopefully help combat the issue in Nepal.
The organizations Sisterhood of Survivors program, is the arm of the organization which G Adventures helped get off the ground in 2013. This program was created for those survivors that couldn’t participate in the paralegal program because they lacked a high school diploma, because of the lack of education, these survivors are the most vulnerable to re-trafficking and gender-based violence.
The Sisterhood of Survivors program was created to provide training to these girls in the hospitality industry, and when you visit SASANE on a G Adventures tour, you’ll get to see this program in full swing. The women involved run a lunch program and momo making course with guests, and provide an informative presentation on the organization. This helps with their culinary skills, customer engagement and conversational English.
On top of these two key programs, SASANE also focuses on bringing awareness to schools and the community through their outreach programs. Visiting the SASANE project really brought awareness to our group about the trafficking issues in Nepal—something that so many tourists overlook, and really opened my eyes to how organizations like this can really thrive when given the opportunity too.
Now that I’m home from my trip and started to look at my next adventure, I’ve looked purposely for G Adventures tours that include visits to their Planeterra projects. I found that although this part of my trip was sad to see, it was also inspiring and uplifting. The girls in this program seemed so positive and happy, despite their terrible and sad pasts, which really is a reality check when you take a look at your own life.
I encourage everyone that is traveling to look into organizations in the communities you visit and make yourself aware of what’s out there, the challenges they face, and how you can help and give back!
Thanks G Adventures and Planeterra for giving me this opportunity.