We believe tourism can offer new perspectives and offers young people ways to change their lives and their communities. And we want young people's voices to be heard, because it is only by working together with the next generation that we can build a brighter future for all of us.
Listen to what young members of the communities we support have to say about how travel can be a force for good.
"The future is today. Our dream is to become a center, a reference point for the Amazon and the world"
- Carlos Ariel, co-founder of Caguan Expeditions (Colombia)
Carlos co-founded Caguan Expeditions, an organization that allows victims of the armed conflict in Colombia to build a future through active tourism. In this interview, he gives some insight into his day-to-day life, as well as describing what motivates him.
"I have the privilege of being the co-founder and current director of Caguan Expeditions. I am also a founding member of Remando por la Paz, and currently coordinate the Red Comunitaria de Turismo, Paz y Reconciliación (Community Network for Tourism, Peace and Reconciliation).
I have always liked tourism, and frequently visit places myself as a tourist. In 2017, a proposal was made to me by the peace signatory community of the former Miravalle reincorporation space. That's how I started on this path of approaching tourism from the perspective of an entrepreneur.
Without a doubt, it makes me feel proud when the children of the village tell their parents that when they grow up they want to be guides and go rafting and kayaking. This makes me feel that we are on the right track, and creating new opportunities and examples of peace and reconciliation, so that the next generation does not have to repeat the cycles of violence because they have no other opportunities.
It empowers me when we have the opportunity to meet other human beings, with diverse origins, histories, and backgrounds. This opens us up to infinite universes, because human encounters are encounters of worlds. When this happens, we move forward as a society, because recognizing and listening to one other, even when we have differences, is a solid step towards reconciliation and the construction of peace.
The future is today. Our dream is to become a center, a reference point for the Amazon and the world, where people can visit us, without fear or stigma, and learn with us through rafting, kayaking, and the socio-environmental processes of restoration of the territory."
"I got involved in tourism to showcase the true essence of my neighborhood, hoping to generate employment and boost the local economy"
- Jeicoth, initiator and leader of Parchese a los Populares, a neighborhood initiative in Bogotá, transforming many young people's lives
Jeicoth grew up in a neighborhood where the opportunities for young people were crime, jail, or the cemetery. The local attitude towards tourism changed when they saw how it could be an instrument for good.
"My name is Jeicoth, and I am the leader of Parchese a los Populares, a project aimed at destigmatizing our neighborhood and reducing internal conflict through tourism and art. By interacting with groups in neighboring districts, we are trying to break down invisible barriers that often speacefully that oftentimes separate us and cause conflicts.
I got involved in tourism to showcase the true essence of my neighborhood, hoping to generate employment and boost the local economy while changing perceptions about Bogotá. My daily routine involves preparing my daughters for school, painting graffiti and pictures, attending project appointments, and spending time with my family.
Parchese a los Populares has been through a lot, especially during challenging times like COVID. Many affiliates suffered from food shortages, but kind-hearted people came forward, providing us with invaluable support. From police interventions to guiding young individuals away from harmful activities, our project has brought positive transformations to the community."
"What fills me with pride as a participant in this project is our capacity to alter the perspective of every tourist who steps foot on the island"
- Damaris, a young member of the Isla Maciel Community Museum in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Damaris lives in Isla Maciel, a Buenos Aires neighborhood right next to popular La Boca. It has suffered from a bad reputation, linked to crime, and its community has faced discrimination because of this. Damaris became a member of the Community Museum that is meant to usher in a “new era” for the people of Isla Maciel. With this initiative, local people want to change the direction of their neighborhood and give young people more opportunities for education and means of earning a living. Tourism is one way they have found to make social change. Listen to Damaris' perspective:
"When I look towards my future, the first thing I wish for is to finish high school and have a stable job in order to have a more peaceful life. Currently, I work in a pharmacy. I usually get up at 7 in the morning to go to work, come home and have lunch with my partner, and then in the afternoon I have more free time. For example, we can watch a movie, and then go for a walk with the dog. Then my mum comes, and we have dinner together.
During my spare time, especially when a tour is scheduled, I actively coordinate the visitor groups. Generally, on each tour we divide the tasks as there are several of us. I am often responsible for the cleanliness and organization of the dining area. I found out about the initiative at Isla Maciel from my partner, Agustin. He was already involved in the project and one day asked me if I wanted to join. From there, I went to a meeting with the guys and I've been involved ever since, for over a year now.
What fills me with pride as a participant in this project is our capacity to alter the perspective of every tourist who steps foot on the island. Through our tours, we endeavor to reshape preconceptions and foster an appreciation for the locale, ensuring visitors leave with a newfound respect. The transformation we bring about with each visit is a testament to the impact of our efforts.
What the organization at Isla Maciel opened for me was possibility. It gave me my first work experience, so that my curriculum vitae wasn't empty, and that's helped me a lot."
"Engaging with visitors and guiding tours helps me have more confidence in myself"
- Cesar, assistant guide and member of the Exito Verde Foundation in Bogotá, Colombia.
Cesar lives in Ciudad Bolivar, a Colombian city south of Bogotá that has faced social challenges. She became a member of Exito Verde, an organization giving young people in the area a safe place to learn, as well as an economic opportunity.
"Thanks to the foundation Exito Verde, I was able to accompany the tours they organize in the neighborhood. Little by little, I got more involved and gained new skills along the way.
Now, I am an assistant guide. I explain the places we visit on the tour and answer as many questions as possible.
There have been occasions when, as I began to speak to our guests, I could tell by the way they looked at me that they were genuinely interested in what I was sharing with them and even in the way I was sharing it with them.
Engaging with visitors and guiding tours helps me have more confidence in myself. I want to continue with this, to see whether it helps me to achieve a simple life, a life without stress."