Rustic Pathways 2015 Impact Report

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Rustic Pathways



OUR MISSION Rustic Pathways empowers students through innovative and responsible travel experiences to positively impact lives and communities around the world.



Letter from the Director


Our Vision


Rustic Pathways: Travel, Education, Philanthropy




• Making Travel Accessible • Responsible Travel Education


• Student Learning • Measuring Student Impact Philanthropy


• Community Service • The Rustic Pathways Foundation Map of Impact




Youth Enrichment and Education


Environment and Animal Welfare


Community Health and Social Services


Economic Development


Looking Forward




LETTER FROM THE DIRECTOR That is a big number, but what does it mean? 41,973 includes the individuals who were directly impacted by each of the service projects we supported, as well as our hardworking staff members and community partners who ensure these efforts are effective and sustained. It also includes dedicated students who chose to spend part of their summer broadening their perspective and participating in our service programs. How our global initiatives impact each person is unique. The impact is just as unique as our students, staff, and local partners that are brought together through the work we do. A key part of our vision is creating a world where all people are connected by a shared humanity and all decisions are made with a global perspective. This number represents a step in this direction. The depth of impact on each individual is not discernible in this figure. The depth of the impact can be seen through friendships formed between peers from various backgrounds, as they work side by side to build a water supply system or to plant mangroves to restore a local ecosystem. The depth of the impact will continue to be seen as our efforts grow and sustain for years to come, as people across the world gain access to improved water supply or better school facilities. 41,973 is significant, but without facts and anecdotes, it is just a number. In the following pages, we will share the stories behind our service initiatives and acknowledge the work of our staff, students, and community partners. This is not about Rustic Pathways, but about a group of like-minded individuals striving to make a positive impact in the world, no matter how small. I invite you to explore the following pages and understand the depth of what 41,973 truly means to us. Thank you,

Ann Fuller Global Community Partnerships Director 5

OUR VISION Rustic Pathways is committed to creating a world where...


Travel is accepted as an essential part of every education

Travel is a model of sustainable development

All people are connected by a shared humanity and all decisions are made with a global perspective

RUSTIC PATHWAYS: TRAVEL, EDUCATION, PHILANTHROPY At Rustic Pathways, we work at the intersection of travel, education, and philanthropy. Through our programs we facilitate life-changing educational experiences for students and use travel and community service as a means to achieve sustainable development within our partner communities. We work effectively with local partners and believe that through this holistic approach, we are able provide the most transformative experience for our students and make a positive impact on the communities in which we work.


- T RAV E L -

MAKING TRAVEL ACCESSIBLE We believe that every student should have the opportunity to learn through travel. We are committed to making our transformational experiences available to as many students as possible.

113 Service Scholarships awarded in 2015 Granted to students who display both financial need and merit, these scholarships cover up to 100 percent of program cost. The service scholarship is only available for service programs and to students who have not yet traveled with us.

20 International Ambassador Scholarships awarded in 2015 An elite, competitive scholarship designed to give exceptional students from around the world a unique opportunity to learn about other cultures through community service, this award is only available to students outside of the United States. Apply for one of our scholarships at

BESART COPA Global Ambassador Durrës, Albania Besart was one of our 20 Global Ambassador scholarship recipients for 2016. We were impressed by his desire to push his boundaries, gain a new perspective, and truly learn through travel. “Coming from a modest family in Albania, I always dreamed of seeing the world. At the age of 14, I received a full scholarship from my present school in Switzerland. The culture shock of moving from one of the poorest communities in Europe to one of the richest was one of the most significant phases of self growth for me. Culture shock taught me the value of adaptability. It also taught me how to understand different cultures from my own. I wanted to get the chance to experience something different, somewhere different; a chance to experience culture shock again.”


- T RAV E L -

RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL We are committed to decreasing our environmental footprint, stimulating local economies, supporting community initiatives, and teaching our students responsible travel practices. We travel to locations off the tourist track, buy goods from locally owned businesses and are respectful of local cultures and customs. Our programs provide direct support for education, infrastructure development, conservation, and other community projects.

Partnership with Sustainable Travel International We partnered with Sustainable Travel International, a global NGO, to evaluate our ongoing impact and to help us operate in the most responsible manner possible. In 2015, we undertook an assessment of our country operations to better understand the impact we have in the places where we travel. We looked at three key areas of our operations: our policies; the sustainability of the places we stay; and the practices and outcomes of the service initiatives we support. Building on what we have learned, establishing targets for continual improvement that will support our vision of a world where travel is a model of sustainable development.

10 Million Better Campaign We are also supporting Sustainable Travel International’s 10 Million Better campaign. The goal is to improve the lives of 10 million people over the next ten years through tourism, ensuring local communities and economies benefit and the culture, history, and environments of destinations are protected.


- E D U CAT I O N -

STUDENT LEARNING At the core of our program design is the notion that what students experience while traveling can profoundly shape who they are and how they view the world. We believe that travel provides a unique opportunity for student learning, and we intentionally create programs that promote student growth. Our students are encouraged to interact with their surroundings, try new experiences, and reflect upon their personal growth throughout the program.

We inspire curiosity and passion for exploration. We stray off of the tourist track and encourage our students to ask questions and learn from the people and places they encounter. We design programs that allow students to form meaningful relationships around the world. We believe that creating personal connections fosters a shared sense of humanity across lines of difference. We encourage our students to think critically about global issues and to push their personal boundaries. Students who travel with us develop a better understanding of our complex world and themselves. We facilitate debrief discussions that help our students process and make meaning of what they experience. Our program leaders are trained to ask probing questions and guide our students through the process.

MARGARET FITZGERALD Burlington, Vermont “I am going to be a senior this fall, and until now I have been terrified about leaving high school. Upon returning from my trip, I found myself eager for college and the opportunities every day of my future will bring. I am more comfortable with myself, and more confident in my passions, though I have no idea where they might take me. Whatever I choose to do, I now feel ready to develop and utilize my abilities to explore and serve my world with a positive impact.�


- E D U CAT I O N -

MEASURING STUDENT IMPACT We’re passionate about creating transformative experiences for our students. This year, we’ve begun a comprehensive evaluation of our impact on students from a student learning perspective. This will allow us not only to define more clearly what students are learning on our programs, but also paint a picture of how and why our students are having transformative experiences while traveling with us.

In September we hired a team of researchers to guide our work in impact evaluation over the coming years. Our student impact evaluators are assisting our team of educators in defining metrics, as well as collecting and analyzing data. By employing a datadriven approach, and collecting both quantitative and qualitative data, we will be better able to benchmark our performance and refine our program design, more consistently deepen our students’ engagement on their programs.


- P H I L A N T H RO P Y -

OUR APPROACH TO COMMUNITY SERVICE We believe that through responsible travel and well-designed service initiatives, our students can gain an understanding of pressing social and environmental challenges at a global level and help combat these challenges at a local level. We take a comprehensive approach to service, working with community partners from the design process to monitoring and evaluation. Each of our service initiatives fall into one of five categories: infrastructure, education, environment, community health and social services, or economic development. Below is the process by which we design our service initiatives:


Identify and Design Projects with Local Partners We spend time with our local partners and community members on the ground to understand their needs and priorities. We then collaborate to develop projects that address key needs and build on community strengths.


Provide Students Opportunities to Engage We collaborate with our partners to create well-defined roles for our students that harness their skills and ensure they make a meaningful contribution. Students are able to select programs based on personal interests and skill sets, maximizing both their experience and the success of our service initiatives.


Work Together to Achieve Goals Our students join the efforts of our local partners during their programs and work collaboratively to achieve project goals. Both students and communities utilize the unique skills they bring and learn from and about each other.


Monitor and Evaluate We conduct regular evaluations with project partners and beneficiaries, evaluate both the process and impact of our ongoing initiatives and consistently use feedback to improve project design and implementation.


Build Long-term Partnerships We establish partnerships with a long-term view, recognizing that real change can take time. We provide ongoing support to partners and projects, take on initiatives in a range of areas, and work to ensure a lasting impact.


- P H I L A N T H RO P Y -

THE RUSTIC PATHWAYS FOUNDATION The Rustic Pathways Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization that supports communities in their efforts to implement locally-driven, sustainable solutions to their development challenges. The Foundation is currently raising funds to support six major initiatives in communities where we travel. These projects span the globe from Fiji to the Dominican Republic, Thailand, Cambodia, and Peru. Each project aims to support priorities identified by local partners and has a unique approach. We encourage you to learn more and get involved by supporting one of these important projects at Rustic Pathways Children’s Home

Monte Coca Batey Project

Floating Village School Project

The Nasivikoso School Project

Sacred Valley Project

BSDA: Education for All

Development Ambassadors We currently have over 40 student Development Ambassadors working to fundraise for foundation initiatives! This program was launched in 2015 and provides alumni an opportunity to continue to support our global initiatives and to build fundraising skills with the support of our Foundation team.

IVY JIN New York, New York “I traveled to Burma with Rustic Pathways in 2015. Rustic introduced me to the wonderful aspects of Burmese culture, people, and customs. Even a few years from now, I will forever remember it to be one of the most enlightening trips I’ve ever had in my life. Now, I am working as a Development Ambassador to support the Sacred Valley Project because it pertains directly to girls and their education. As a girl currently attending school, I feel especially attached to this project, as I understand first hand that the right to an education is a basic right. Simply being able to learn can open up one’s mind to the world.”


MAP OF IMPACT 41,973 Lives Impacted Globally

UNITED STATES 7,896 lives impacted

MOROCCO 1,022 lives impacted COSTA RICA 4,280 lives impacted

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 3,017 lives impacted

PERU 2,341 lives impacted


GHANA 202 lives impacted

MONGOLIA 302 lives impacted

CHINA 74 lives impacted

BURMA 2,483 lives impacted

LAOS 1,757 lives impacted

THAILAND 6,904 lives impacted

INDIA 450 lives impacted

CAMBODIA 957 lives impacted

FIJI 2,607 lives impacted TANZANIA 6,347 lives impacted AUSTRALIA 1,334 lives impacted




BLACKWATER TREATMENT SYSTEMS Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic After three years working with our local partner Obra Social Salesiana to install water systems in rural communities in the Jarabacoa region, this year we began a new initiative focused on filtering wastewater, also known as blackwater. This region is home to three major rivers, the North Yaque, the Jimenoa, and the Baiguate, which are increasingly polluted by growth and development. Most communities lack treatment systems, and wastewater from toilets and other home uses reenters the rivers untreated. To help address this challenge, we partnered with the conservation organization Plan Yaque and Rancho Baiguate, an ecofriendly resort which has successfully implemented blackwater treatment systems. Together we began constructing treatment systems for communities along these vital rivers. Students helped build the two-chamber system where wastewater flows into a sealed pit filled with oxidizing agents such as rusty metal, rocks, and sand. Aquatic plants are also seeded on top to further filter the water. Blackwater that enters the pit leaves clean and filtered of harmful bacteria.

3 blackwater treatment systems installed servicing 550 residents

“People must work step by step [to protect our] natural resources, because it’s the future of our own families. My dream is that people will learn to respect our mother earth.” Humberto Checo, Plan Yaque


SAVE THE RAIN: WATER CONSERVATION PROJECT Kingori Ward, Tanzania Save the Rain is an innovative nonprofit that builds rainwater catchment systems in Tanzania and promotes education on rainwater harvesting and sustainable agriculture. This year, Rustic Pathways joined forces with Save the Rain and local families in the Arusha region to build residential rainwater catchment systems that will be able to store up to a year’s worth of clean water. Save the Rain’s approach starts with forming partnerships with local communities to build rainwater catchment systems at schools. They train local masons to build and maintain the systems and introduce sustainable agriculture classes for students in grades five and six that teach water harvesting techniques through hands-on work on a school farm. They also provide interest-free loans to women through their Women’s Water Initiative to build catchment systems on individual homes and ensure children have access to clean water both at school and at home. All repaid loans are reinvested in the project to expand the number of individuals served. On our Save the Rain program, Rustic students were broken into teams of two and three and worked directly with families and members of the Save the Rain team to build household rainwater catchments systems. In four weeks, our students built 10 systems and funded construction of another 13.

23 rainwater catchment systems built with support of Rustic Pathways


Project Update:

SACRED VALLEY WATER PROJECT Students on our Sacred Valley Service program continued work on a new water supply system for communities in the Peruvian Andes this year. This multi-year project will provide safe and reliable drinking water to over 1,000 people in five villages. Stage one included construction of a fence and water collection system around a freshwater spring located over 13,000 feet above sea level. Stage two, which began this year, will include installation of 11 miles of piping and pressure breaking boxes.

Goal: reliable drinking water to 5 communities in the Sacred Valley by 2017


10 YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF HURRICANE KATRINA 2015 marked the ten year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, one of the most destructive natural disasters in US history. On August 29, 2005 Hurricane Katrina slammed the Gulf Coast, submerging 80 percent of the city of New Orleans under water. Over 1,500 people were estimated to have died and over 1.5 million forced to leave their homes. Through a decade of rebuilding efforts, much of the city and population has been restored to pre-Katrina levels. However, a handful of areas highly affected by the hurricane, such as the Lower Ninth Ward or St. Bernard Parish, still have a population less than half of the size before Katrina. An estimated 6,000 families who owned a home before the hurricane still do not 20

have the funds or resources necessary to rebuild. Rustic Pathways joined rebuilding efforts in 2006. Partnering with organizations like the St. Bernard Project, over 1600 students, staff, and teachers have worked on home construction projects in the past 9 years. In partnership with the St. Bernard project, Rustic Pathways works on an average of eight homes each year. While there is still rebuilding to be done, we have also widened our efforts to include partnering with other organizations to help tackle issues such as access to nutritious food, beautifying neighborhoods, coastal erosion, and education.

“This anniversary is not a celebration, a finish line, a summit we've reached. This anniversary is a reminder of how much work we still have in front of us. It’s an opportunity to look back at what we have done, as well as what remains to be done to secure our city's future. We as a city, as a people, have not yet reached our full potential. While we reflect on the anniversary of the storm, it's not Hurricane Katrina that I'd like to talk about. However, the unfortunate reality is that in New Orleans, that would be impossible. Katrina has been how many New Orleanians have defined the past years. For many more, it will continue to be how they measure the rest of their lives. When discussing the aftermath of Katrina, I prefer to talk about the volunteers I’ve met, neighbors we’ve helped, and youth who have learned to overcome so much. The city of New Orleans would not have returned without the help of volunteers.” Sam Stevens Rustic Pathways Alum

Sam participated in our Rebuilding New Orleans project in 2007 and was deeply impacted by his experience. When he returned to his hometown of St. Louis, he involved himself in many service projects and received a community service scholarship to return to New Orleans and attend Tulane University. Sam has been in New Orleans ever since, pursuing a career in the rebuilding and emergency management sector.




BEYOND CAPITOL HILL: YOUTH REFUGEE TUTORING PROJECT Baltimore, Maryland In 2015 we began our partnership with the Baltimore City Community College’s Refugee Youth Project (RYP). The RYP provides support and services to refugees to ease their transition into American society and is committed to its mission of creating a safe environment for refugee children to improve their literacy skills, enhance their knowledge of American culture, engage in enriching extracurricular activities, and grow to be confident, caring children. This summer, Rustic Pathways students supported RYP’s summer enrichment programs by coordinating group activities and assisting teachers with English reading and writing lessons. Rustic students led activities with over 90 refugee youth, completing over 1000 hours of service on initiatives supporting refugee resettlement in Baltimore.

“Whether or not you leave the country, there is something to learn about people wherever you end up choosing to be. My experiences with Rustic Pathways have always been life changing, but this summer was different. My summer in Baltimore prepared me to change the world around me, starting with people.” Heather Johnson, United States Program Leader


PREK TOAL PRIMARY SCHOOL Prek Toal, Cambodia Prek Toal is one of many communities located along the Tonle Sap, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. There are more than 1.5 million people that depend directly on the lake for their livelihoods and approximately 70 percent of households here earn less than $1,000 per year. Most residents rely on fishing as a source of income, which is stressed by overfishing and environmental changes from dams and climate change. Rustic Pathways has partnered with the elementary school in Prek Toal since 2012 when we supported some minor repairs and improvements to their facilities. However, we quickly realized that the needs of this school were much bigger. In this unique environment of the Tonle Sap, almost all of the village’s structures are stilted or floating on water and the school is sinking. One of the classrooms can no longer be used and teachers juggle classroom time and divide students into sessions in order to ensure that everyone can attend school. The Rustic Pathways Foundation is working to raise funds to support the construction of a new school for the community. The new school will be built up on land and on high stilts, a design expected to last much longer than the current floating structure. We are thrilled to have the support of a team of alumni Development Ambassadors working with the Foundation to help make this new school possible.


A KINDERGARTEN IN THE ATLAS MOUNTAINS Ourikt, Morocco Early childhood education is key for preparing children for primary school and ensuring access to pre-primary education is one of the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals launched by the UN this year. In Morocco, we partnered with the Al-Baraka Association of Ourikt, a small farming village in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco, to build a preschool and kindergarten for the community. Al-Baraka, which means increasing blessings, growth and happiness in Arabic, is a community-led development association with initiatives in communities throughout the Thigiza Valley. The association looks after community members’ wellbeing and provides financial assistance to families going through hardship. This summer, Rustic students completed the foundation and walls of the school. More groups throughout the fall and winter are finishing the project to be completed at the end of 2015.

Project Update:

THE NASIVIKOSO VILLAGE SCHOOL We are thrilled to announce that the Nasivikoso Village School in the highlands of Fiji is now up and running for students from grade K – 8 and 114 students are attending the new school. This project received continued support this year from the Prime Minister of Fiji, who has now funded construction of four classrooms and two teachers houses. Rustic Pathways continued support for construction of teachers’ housing and finishing work on the original classrooms, with student working alongside community members to get the job done. There is still work to be done, including construction of a dining hall and school office and installation of a new water supply system, but we could not be happier to see so many students attending the new school.

114 students enrolled at Nasivikoso Village School




MARINE CONSERVATION Somosomo, Fiji Islands We continued to support the Marine Conservation Area established by the village of Somosomo on Naviti Island, one of the more than 300 islands that makes up the Fiji archipelago. In 2015, Rustic Pathways students: • Conducted reef checks on five different reefs • Planted 9,156 mangroves. One mangrove can offset 800 kilograms of carbon dioxide. That’s 7,200 metric tons of carbon offset, which equals the energy use of 657 homes • Established a nursery of 21 giant clams, helping to nuture and support the health of the coral reef system

• Built and installed 15 coral structures to support regrowth • Removed 27 crown-of-thorn sea stars. These sea stars can kill six to ten square meters of living reef per year. That’s an estimated 250 square meters of reef saved this summer. • Studied and recorded data on the health of the seagrass on the shore of our Islands Base

Bayahibe, Dominican Republic In the Dominican Republic, we partner with the local conservation organization, Fundemar, which works to restore marine habitats around the coastal town of Bayahibe. This year, Rustic students helped Fundemar with the following: • • • • •

Tracked 78 dolphins using GPS Collected 21 bags of trash from local beaches Built 9 buoys to mark coral reefs and give fishermen a safe place to tie up Built 11 coral structures to support regrowth Built 50 fireworm traps to decrease the invasive species’ population

DID YOU KNOW? Did you know how important mangrove trees are to island ecosystems? Grown in tidal zones between land and sea, these trees act as a shelter for fish and marine species to grow and reproduce. Their dense roots also help protect coasts from erosion, especially during storm surges. In 2015, Rustic Pathways students planted 9,156 mangroves in Fiji and 3,640 in the Dominican Republic.


STEVE IRWIN WILDLIFE REFUGE PROJECT Queensland, Australia Steve Irwin was a great conservationist and his legacy continues in many places throughout Australia and the world. This year we had the privilege to support conservation research at the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve in northwest Queensland. The Reserve is home to rare and vulnerable plants and wildlife, and its ecosystems perform crucial roles as wildlife refuges and corridors for movement and dispersal of many species of flora and fauna. It is also frequented by scientists from around the world to conduct research projects and also hosts the Australia Zoo Croc Research Trip, the largest study ever conducted on crocodiles. Through this program for college students, Rustic Pathways supported research by assisting rangers with field work, constructed walkways to improve the research base, and worked to remove invasive vegetation on the reserve.


WILDLIFE CONSERVATION IN INDIA Agra, India Wildlife SOS works throughout India to protect wildlife and their habitats through community rehabilitation, wildlife crime tracking, and animal rescue operations. We are thrilled to support their work and partnered again this year to support their efforts to rescue and rehabilitate sloth bears. For several hundred years, the members of the Kalandar community in northern India trained sloth bears to dance as a source of income. In 2002, Wildlife SOS started a project to protect these dancing bears and have since rescued over 1,000 bears from the streets. They take an integrated approach to solving the complex challenges at play—from rehabilitating the bears, to providing training and seed money to Kalandar families to support alternative incomes and providing education for their children. Rustic Pathways students help bear keepers with their daily work, such as preparing and delivering three meals a day for the bears, cleaning the bear pens and enclosures, and monitoring their behavior for research. Students also design and build enrichment structures to keep the bears stimulated mentally and physically and promote natural behaviors. This year, we also began work with the Wildlife SOS Elephant facility near Agra, where elephants rescued from abusive situations are rehabilitated. Wildlife SOS has rescued 14 elephants from abusive situations this year and have plans for significant expansion of their elephant facilities.

Students completed 144 hours of service with Wildlife SOS in 2015

New Partner:

JANE GOODALL INSTITUTE We are excited to be launching a new partnership with the Jane Goodall Institute in Tanzania and their youth-led community action program, Roots & Shoots. The Jane Goodall Institute works to protect great apes, chimpanzees, and their habitats, sustainably improve human livelihoods and inspire youth around the world to create action and positive change. We are excited to support the vision of their legendary founder and join forces with youth in Tanzania to learn and act together. Get involved through our African Wildlife Conservation Program in 2016.




HEALTH AND EDUCATION Ulgii, Mongolia Our partner organization in Mongolia, Source of Steppe Nomads, works in some of the country’s most remote, rural villages. Based out of the westernmost province of Ulgii, and working particularly in a village called Sogoog, the organization focuses on two main areas of community development: health and education. A meat-and-dairy-heavy diet creates a great amount of malnutrition in Mongolia, especially in children. Over the last five years Source of Steppe Nomads has built the first greenhouses in western Mongolia to provide access to vegetables and greens yearround. These greenhouses are usually placed on school grounds to provide food for students during their time in school and serve as educational tools to teach students the value of nutrition. Rustic Pathways students have worked with the organization and community members to help with construction of greenhouses and to support garden maintenance. In addition to providing English-language classes in school, the knowledge of which greatly increases students’ chances for a scholarship to attend university, Source Steppe Nomads provides an annual English-language summer camp to bridge the time between school years. Rustic Pathways students join in the camp, providing opportunities to practice language skills with English speakers and sharing in an enriching cross-cultural exchange that provides powerful lessons for all involved.


RUSTIC PATHWAYS PUBLIC HEALTH PROGRAMS Public health is about preventing disease and promoting health across an entire community or population. It is a large and diverse field that includes activities from diagnosing health concerns that impact entire communities to promoting healthy practices and behaviors and ensuring policies safeguard the health and well-being of all people. Engaging with public health initiatives at a local level provides students an opportunity to gain perspective on the critical importance of these interventions and how they could actively contribute to the field in the future.

ACCESS TO LATRINES La Romana, Dominican Republic Access to sanitation is an important theme within our Introduction to Public Health in the Caribbean program. Students on this program work in batey communities which are largely comprised of Haitian migrant workers. These marginalized communities often lack bathroom facilities and access to clean water. While it is estimated that 83% of the total population of the Dominican Republic has access to improved sanitation, meaning that waste is separated from human contact, studies have found that in the bateyes only about half of the population has access to improved sanitation. This causes a high prevalence of preventable diseases. On the Intro to Public Health program, students learn about access to basic health services and how access to water and sanitation can have an impact on community health. Students on this program help build latrines in our partner communities. In 2015, we built 15 latrines to serve families without access to bathroom facilities.

15 latrines constructed in 2015 32

“My most important learning moment on the public health program was visiting the hospitals in the capital as well as the wilderness first aid course. The course taught me to be responsible in certain situations and gave me the ability to think quickly and understand how to take care of medical emergencies first hand.� Lauren Flamenbaum Paris, France Lauren traveled on our Intro to Public Health in the Caribbean program as a Global Ambassador in 2015




PERKA NORTE TOURISM COOPERATIVE Lake Titicaca, Peru In the rural indigenous communities of the high plains surrounding Lake Titicaca, Rustic Pathways has established a multifaceted initiative in partnership with local families and community leaders to diversify local economies while improving basic sanitation, nutrition, and living standards. The goal of this initiative is to implement a sustainable rural tourism cooperative that will generate new income for an otherwise subsistence farming community. The project began with community members forming and legalizing a community tourism association. Rustic Pathways students then support the construction of bathrooms, eco-kitchens, greenhouses for crop diversity, and small guest rooms that will be used to host guests working alongside families. This work is supplemented by training in various aspects of the tourism industry and support for promotion of the destination. Aside from the economic benefits, this project will also work to combat urban migration, poor nutrition, and improve sanitation and health through housing upgrades.

In 2015, Rustic Pathways constructed 8 toilet and shower facilities

“The work Rustic Pathways is doing here is amazing. During several years we tried our best to get the job done from the local government but it never happened. All the work we are doing here is really necessary and the living conditions will improve greatly when we finish the project.� Elmer Tique Chambilla, Local Project Manager


HELP OUR VILLAGE FOUNDATION Adaklu District, Ghana For four years now, Ghana’s Volta Village Life and Service program has traveled to the remote Adaklu District, nestled along the Togo border in southeastern Ghana. Over the years, Rustic Pathways strengthened its partnership with the local Queen Mother’s nonprofit, the Help Our Village Foundation, which focuses on empowering the local clan by improving access to education. The service efforts of Rustic Pathways have recently focused on constructing a new junior high school, but our community partners have even bigger goals in mind. The Queen Mother’s daughter, Princess Love Akosua Kpedekpo, wants to show the world how easy it is to bring tourism dollars to tiny villages like those in the Adaklu District. She believes that even the tiniest rural villages can attract tourists who are looking for a genuine cultural experience. Rustic Pathways students live with homestay families in the small agricultural community of Adaklu Kpatove, where they are exposed to local foods, culture, and the daily regimen of their host families. The students experience Ghanaian traditions including kente weaving, organic cotton spinning, batik tie-dye, and durbar celebrations. Princess Akos insists that these communities can preserve their authentic local culture and bring economic development to their offthe-beaten-path villages. Princess Akos recently presented at the United Nations Millenium Villages Conference in South Africa, where she made the case for economic development through these authentic cultural experiences.


ADVENTURAS NATURALES Yorkin, Costa Rica The Bribri are the largest indigenous group in Costa Rica. Rustic Pathways has partnered with an indigenous tourism project, Adventuras Naturales, in Yorkin, one of the most isolated Bribri communities, for four years. Yorkin has about six-hundred residents and is accessible only by boat or a rugged dirt road during the drier seasons of the year. Aventuras Naturales works to provide income opportunities for members of Yorkin through managing a guest house, running local adventure activities, and selling of traditional handicrafts. Rustic Pathways students support this project by staying at their accommodations and by getting involved in projects to improve their facilities and opportunities for income generation. In 2010, Adventuras Naturales began construction of a small chocolate factory to generate a greater income. Rustic Pathways students have helped with the on-going construction of the facility and community members are now receiving training from local university students to build business skills and techniques for larger scale production. Cacao beans will be purchased from local farmers to supplement incomes. Rustic Pathways students also help to build paths for guests and other projects on the site as well as at the local elementary and high schools. 37


HOW TO STAY INVOLVED Lend a hand. Enroll in a spring break or summer program for 2016 and gain hands-on experience on our service projects. Get to know the communities and work alongside local villagers as you work together towards a common goal.

Support the Rustic Pathways Foundation. Visit to learn more about our Foundation’s work and the projects we support. Apply to become a Development Ambassador or set up a personal fundraising page to directly contribute towards a project you care about.

Volunteer locally. Think about the causes you believe in and how you can lend a hand in your hometown. Search out nearby soup kitchens, food banks, community gardens, animal shelters, and other organizations in need of volunteers.

Keep in touch. Our alumni form a coalition of like-minded students that span the globe. The Alumni Association offers opportunities throughout the year to work with Rustic Pathways and stay involved in communities near and far.