A few months ago, the Fair Trek managing team had a training with an external Community Based Tourism expert. Peter Richards came to Luang Prabang and after sharing all the information on the Fair Trek projects and evolution, he helped Fair Trek realize the need to make sure the communities had an even more active role in the projects.
Inspired by this discovery and new goal, Fair Trek created the Fair Trek Ambassador Team (FATeam). This team is conformed by the Fair Trek tour guides, local english speaking guides that work with our student groups on every trip. This guides have lived in Laos all their lives, speak english, Lao and the language from their ethnicities. Working hand in hand with these guides in the FATeam, Fair Trek aims to bring closer the communities and our office and close the gap between communities and tourism.
This team will communicate with the villagers in their own language, they will visit, survey and talk about issues or problems that need to be fixed in the village. Subjects like feedback from the projects, things that are working and things that need work will be discussed by the FATeam and brought to the attention of the office staff.
This week, the FATeam went to San Oudom village. In this village Fair Trek and its partner company World Volunteer are building the third Eco Bungalow. This village is composed by families that belong to Hmong and Khasa ethnic group. It is one of our favorite communities and the FATeam chose this village to be the first one to visit.
Through the monthly calendar, now Fair Trek can understand the most busy seasons that the community has and work with them on months that are available and don’t interfere with cultural or agricultural events. Around 25 villagers came to the meeting. It was a great turn out and for the last activity they were divided in 3 groups.
Each group draw a map of the village. This map helps us to understand the important and sacred places where our students and volunteers cant be or where they need to be respectful. It helped us understand which ones are the places the community feels proud to share and where do the most important people of the village live.
For a first experience for the FATeam, it had amazing results. This information helps us inform the students and volunteers that visit the village with the community’s story. It helps us understand the community and work closely together.
We are very excited to keep improving our community based tourism project and keep working with the communities hand in hand with the FATeam. As our external expert Peter Richards always says, we will keep aiming to: “Use tourism as a positive force for the environment and the society”.
Written by Juliana Gutierrez G.
Photographs by Gregorio Rojas G.