Last week, we were proud to learn that Samrakshak Samuha Nepal’s (SASANE) Sisterhood of Survivors program took first place at the UN World Tourism Organization Awards for Excellence and Innovation in Tourism — one of four winners selected from among more than 100 candidates globally.
Launched in 2014 by the Nepalese nonprofit, with support from G Adventures and Planeterra, the Sisterhood of Survivors program provides training to trafficking survivors and vulnerable women. With training in the hospitality industry through conversational English, customer service, accounting, and food and beverage management, the program helps women who previously were forced into labour gain independence and rebuild their self-esteem.
The Sisterhood of Survivors project was made possible by a founding grant from G Adventures and the Planeterra Foundation through the “G Project”, a global competition to inspire positive change. Aspiring changemakers submitted more than 350 ideas from 90 countries, in hopes of taking their ideas from concept to action with a US$25,000 development grant.
SASANE’s Managing Director and Founder, Shyam Pokharel said of the win, “We are so happy that we were able to receive this award, which would not have been possible without the help and support of our friends at Planeterra and G Adventures. Their encouragement, training and steady stream of travellers have done so much to encourage others to learn about our organization, and visit Nepal.”
“This award is the first not only for our organization, but for Nepal itself. It brings great honour to our community and a huge responsibility to further increase our impact.”
The Sisterhood of Survivors welcomes travellers on select G Adventures tours into Kathmandu, through a lunch program and traditional momo (dumpling) making course. Women who have survived the trauma of physical or sexual exploitation and human trafficking, and who are committed to rebuilding their lives, host this unique experience.
Our very own Adrienne Lee has been closely involved in supporting the Sisterhood of Survivors project in her role as Planeterra Program Manager:
“It is incredibly rewarding to see SASANE and the Sisterhood of Survivors come so far in just two short years. From a tiny one-room office above a store to a globally renowned social enterprise that’s supported by our travellers today, we’ve demonstrated how we can help bring underserved communities into the tourism supply chain through ethical business practices that prioritize doing well and doing good.”
The UNWTO Awards for Excellence and Innovation in Tourism are the flagship awards for the global tourism sector, recognizing knowledge creation, dissemination and innovative solutions. The annual Awards Ceremony takes place at the International Tourism Trade Fair in Madrid, Spain.
The nod from the UNWTO comes as we ramp up our ‘50 in 5’ initiative, a five-year plan to integrate 50 new social enterprise projects into our trips and make them self-sustaining. Our goal is allow nearly all of G Adventures travellers to visit one or more social enterprise projects in more than 35 countries by 2020, changing the lives of local people in communities by providing them with access to the economic benefits of tourism.