2016 Year In Review and Why Volunteer while Travelling Abroad in 2017

As we wave goodbye to 2016 and welcome 2017 ahead, we want to share with you a few of our projects’ accomplishments and the upcoming plans for 2017 hoping that you will want to join in with the new trend of “volunteer tourism”.

As the United Nations declared 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, read our blog about this here, we want to encourage you to join in with this new trend. There are many global volunteer opportunities out there, but Kaya distinguishes itself with a customised approach to match your skills and interests with ethical, sustainable and responsible projects. We are so proud of the projects we support and 2016 has been a phenomenal year with many worthwhile developments and changes that will positively affect future generations.

While we support over 150 projects in 29 countries and cannot highlight all of them, we would like to showcase just a few 2016 triumphs, many of which could not have been possible without our volunteers:

  • On the conservation side, in Malaysia, our team on the ground planted more than 10,000 trees while maintaining the 45ha of previous tree planting. They have established a forest growth monitoring system as well as maintain 35 kilometers of walking trails. The rainforest wildlife habitat restoration is well under way with an additional 200ha planned for future restoration work in 2017 and beyond. The lake restoration and the removal of Salvinia water weed has also made its way forward with 2ha of weed free areas of the local lake, which is essential to saving the aquatic system and preserving the local ecosystem from this foreign weed.
  • In Port Elizabeth, South Africa, our partners are working hard against poaching efforts and are proud to say that there has been no poaching of rhinos on the game reserve we support. They have also established a new buffalo research camp, and have eradicated a large number of alien vegetation while planting a large number of indigenous trees. In the year ahead, the team is looking at releasing additional animals from the rehabilitation centre, establishing a formal vet clinic as well as continuing monitoring the rhinos and elephants.
  • In Nepal, volunteers have helped built a large community centre that will house a FM radio station that locals can manage and have a radio show to learn English. The new centre will also be housing a computer classroom loaded with educational software to tutor the children that most need it. Finally, the centre will also be housing a film and photo studio to empower women and children and teach them new skills.
  • In Swaziland, our partner succeeded in establishing an actual curriculum for preschools with the help of the volunteers. The children centres were originally established for vulnerable children for them to have a safe place to play and have food. Now equipped with a two year curriculum, the children will be well equipped to start primary school and have a better chance to follow through the entire primary school educational system if they are successful their first year. This project was entirely funded through volunteers’ donations. This is a true example of social, economic and long-term community impact the volunteers can have.
  • In Zambia, 139 participants from 16 countries participated in the forest conservation and reforestation program. With the help of the volunteers, 6 community forest gardens were planted as well as 1 orchard. In addition, eco-education activations were run at 7 schools. During these days, 76 trees were planted, 80 self-watering seed germinators were made, 82 eco-bricks were stuffed and 213 students were inspired. Also, murals were painted at 4 locations to make Livingstone that much more colourful. This is just the result of a few accomplishments for 2016 that our partner on the ground has achieved. In 2017, we will once again support the Festival of Action. Summer is coming up quick so book your spot to make a difference in Zambia and be part of the Africa green movement!
  • In Thailand, 2016 was a good year for our environmental and conservation project. The team on the ground with the help of the volunteers removed nearly 14,000 Drupella snails and 300 Crown of thorns. They released 100 giant clams, and 17 sea turtles, and completed over 90 ecological monitoring surveys as well as installed 10 coral nurseries. Aow Lewk is now also home a brand-new Mineral Accretion Device taking electrified artificial reefs to a new level with Coral Aid techniques.
  • In Saint Lucia, South Africa, the team on the ground has partnered with a foundation to add a second classroom onto the local creche, allowing the approximately 100 children who attend not only to fit inside the building and also be separated into two age appropriate lessons. It has already helped by keeping all of the kids safe and dry during the rainy season, and the older students are now able to get a more focused pre-primary school education to help them head into Grade R, while the younger kids have more structured play and social development opportunities.
  • In Tanzania, our partners and volunteers in Moshi fundraised over $44,000 to build a security wall for the elderly centre we support. This wall will prevent further theft and ensures the elderlies sleep in peace.
  • In South Africa, we support the women’s empowerment project in 3 locations now. With the programs, there has been a 17% increase in English test scores in Cape Town, a 23% increase in mathematic scores in Livingstone and a 39% increase in knowledge on gender awareness.

We are grateful for the continuous interest of the travellers who want to volunteer. As you can see, the projects we support have a real impact on the lives of the destination communities from conserving natural environments, to allowing access to education and health, and safeguarding the welfare of the animals and societies abroad.  If you are dreaming of exotic destinations for 2017 and at the same time, you are wondering how you are going to contribute to changing the world, join one or more of our many projects!