Posts Tagged ‘Ethical Traveler’

Cuba Opening—Is it Time to Volunteer?

cuba-flagYesterday’s historic move toward making Cuba an accessible destination for US travelers opens the door to a lot of other things, and not just cigars.

There are some fantastic volunteer opportunities in Cuba, a country that has faced lots of economic hardship but with provided healthcare, high literacy, low infant mortality, and tremendous cultural pride, many Cubanos insist there is no need for outside volunteer projects. It is important to look for trips with organizations that are culturally connected, have a spotless track record, and prioritize projects initiated from within communities, not those led by outsiders who think they know what is best for others (these are precepts appropriate to ALL volunteer vacations and service travel!)

Jakera has volunteer programs and Spanish immersion for visitors to Cuba. A Venezuelan-based company, they have been closely connected with Cuban communities since 2003.

Animal Research International, while an international organization, has legitimate, scientific field-based volunteer programs focused on bat research and conservation.

Real Cuba has a robust travel presence and expertise helping you find volunteer placement as well as travel off the beaten path to get you beyond Havana, crowded beaches, and the normal circuit for tourists.

Go Eat Give has sustainability and organic farming volunteer placements in the Cuban countryside.

Ethical Traveler hosts a people-to-people interactive arts-based trip with Cuba travel experts and deep cultural connections.

There are lots of other folks offering volunteer experiences in Cuba, and more will crop up in a hurry. Let your research be deep and thorough–you can almost guarantee that as the demand for this previously unattainable passport stamp grows, plenty of opportunists will hang shingle and try to convince you that with them you can make a difference. Be steadfast and insist on going in with eyes wide open.

Top 10 Ethical Travel Destinations of 2012

Ethical Traveler, an all-volunteer non-profit division of the Earth Island Institute, has released their list of Top Ten Ethical Travel Destinations of 2012. The research team studies developing nations around the world, rating them on environmental protection, social welfare, and human rights. It is part of their mission to encourage the use of travel and the power of tourism as tools to support and protect human rights and the environment.

Some nations in Latin America and Africa, with otherwise high credentials, were downgraded due to draconian anti-gay laws, and some new countries showed up on the list with motivated efforts in 2011 to address environmental and sustainability issues.

The Developing World’s 10 Best Ethical Destinations (in alphabetical order, not in order of merit) are:

The Bahamas
Costa Rica

Ready to book your flights?

Earth Island

For the past quarter century, Earth Island Institute has supporting people and organizations that create solutions to protect our planet.

The serve as an incubator and support system for new projects and initiatives that preserve ecosystems, energy, biodiversity, etc. They also publish a quarterly magazine, Earth Island Journal to inspire and kick start dreams and good intentions into action. “New Leaders” Youth in action, are celebrated, and the grassroots thrust of supporting folks like you, in the trenches, trying to make headway against our issues, is a refreshing antidote to large philanthropic machines that occasionally lose sight of the trees for the forest (and shareholders, boards of directors, public relations efforts, etc.)

From the website: “By sharing resources, Earth Island’s network of grassroots leaders benefit from the synergistic exchange of experience and ideas, making its members more effective together than they could ever be apart. We currently serve as the fiscal sponsor for more than 40 groups, including Baikal Watch, Energy Action, Ethical Traveler, Fiji Organic Project, International Marine Mammal Project, Reef Protection International, Sacred Land Film Project, and Women’s Earth Alliance, among others. Successful Earth Island Institute alumni projects include International Rivers, Rainforest Action Network, and Bluewater Network.

The overall organization, as well as its project members, are all so worthy of your support and involvement–just as your cause or project is worthy of theirs. Reach out to make a connection–none of us has to do this alone.