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Venezuelan Communities Thrive Despite Local Crisis

Notwithstanding the situation that Venezuela has been living since the beginning of February 2014, in which people have gone to the streets to claim for their rights and many have been wounded and killed, local NGOs continue to work towards a better future for the country.

This is the case of Fundación Esteban Torbar (FET), an ATTA member whose focus is to transform sustainable tourism into a life choice for communities with touristic potential such as Birongo, Valle de Kamarata, Puerto Cruz and Pueblos del Sur, the four places where the foundation is working at the moment thanks to the lobbying of private and public allies, as well as other NGOs who have helped to open the door to these magical villages.

2014 has been a busy year so far not only for the country but also to the FET, whose team has travelled to two of these communities in order to offer five different workshops to the locals: sustainability, cultural identity, human talent, sustainable tourism, and business plans. The goal of this season of trainings is to provide people from the communities with tools to develop their own business ideas, always under the umbrella of the sustainable development of their village.

To find out what the locals have in their mind about sustainable tourism development, the team has developed an exercise in which young men and women can participate and share their ideas, contributing to the overall dream of their community. Two communities, Valle de Kamarata and Puerto Cruz, have agreed in the need for cultural, sports, and health facilities, contributing to better services for tourists and visitors, all of this with the will to inspire the new generations to stay home instead of going some place else to find a better life.

The next step for FET is to design more specific workshops according to the characteristics of each of the communities, as could be artisan fishing in Puerto Cruz since it is located in the coast or musical instruments in order to rescue its folklore, which has been pretty much lost through the time. In the case of Valle de Kamarata, specific workshops could be related to wildlife and flora, in order for the locals to be prepared to talk about these subjects with domestic and foreign visitors who come to this place attracted by the mystery of its main attraction: the “tepuis”.

The team is also working in planning volunteering projects for employees of allied companies, or individuals who would like to help in the process of changing the future of these places.

To continue with the training season, FET will be visiting next month another of its communities, Birongo, to offer these workshops for its people famous for their chocolate, their cave, and their music, all of them related to their African roots.

It is of course a big challenge for the team to continue its work in the situation of uncertainty and crisis that the country is going through, but the commitment with its communities is even greater and is the priority for the foundation. According to Esteban Torbar, President of FET: “Despite recent developments in Venezuela, I would like to reassure all our friends and supporters that we are more committed than ever to continue promoting sustainable tourism development. Your support has helped changed the lives of many low-income families like never before. Close to 50 entrepreneurs now have an opportunity for a better life, and no matter the circumstances in Venezuela, we will continue to support their dreams and their future”.

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