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Apr 12 2013

Musings on village projects and co-operatives

In an overflow of the brain, musings and reflections of the stage completed and the stage about to begin are oozing.

These are my own opinions, so be warned.

I have never subscribed to the belief of handouts – anywhere in the world.  To my mind, and from what we have seen, it creates a culture of dependency and in ways is demeaning to the recipients.

So, it is inspiring for me to see when people take charge of their own lives – with or without outside help – determined to empower themselves.  In places, we have seen co-operatives form where members come together to provide a product or service to the market.  In other places, specific projects to improve village life (schools, water pumps, electricity) receive income generated through the village providing tourism offerings.

 I applaud these initiatives.

But what I do find confusing and disappointing is the slight “distortion” in pricing that sometimes has a tendency to emerge.

Case in point – a women’s co-operative charges the same price for camping as another campsite not too far away, but with a 50% surcharge for access to ‘water’ – access to the toilet (with bucket of water for flushing) and 1 bucket of water for both of us to wash.  The other campsite had an ablution block with flushing toilets and proper showers, and employs numerous locals from the nearby village.

Another village initiative invites tourists (which of course we aren’t, we’re travellers) to spend a day and night in the village and experience true village life.  Even with food included, the cost per person is 10 times the price of camping in a nearby campsite.  And 20 times if you book through a tour company!  While I’d love to support the initiative, I can’t justify even the “cheaper” rate of £50 per person per night.

And so I stand confused.  I want to support these people who are taking charge of their own lives.

But I also want to walk away without a bitter taste in my mouth, and without the feeling of being ripped off.

So, we’ll continue travelling in our own way.  Maybe we don’t directly support these initiatives, but by staying in the campsite of our choosing, we are contributing to employment in the area.  By buying in the local markets, we are supporting the local farmers.  By visiting National Parks, we are supporting the conservation efforts.

1 comment

  1. Piet de Klerk

    Hallo GirlChild, I fully agree with your summary & philosophy:- support the locals as far as you can, but let those locals in the rip-off game go and have a nice jump to you know where to………..

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