R.O.L.E. Foundation in Bali
Rivers, Oceans, Lands, Ecology (R.O.L.E.) Foundation is a not-for-profit humanitarian organization based in Bali, whose aims are to promote environmental awareness and empower women. Destination Asia Indonesia participates as an educational partner for the R.O.L.E. Foundation as part of Destination Asia’s ‘Giving Back’ corporate social responsibility scheme. Under the banner of R.O.L.E., the Women’s Skills Education Program presents a free community center providing classes for literacy, English language, basic life and work skills, and vocational skills to local women in need, allowing them to access employment and achieve a sustainable income.
Destination Asia Indonesia sponsors five students each year from families that cannot afford to put them through a college education. To contribute to this incredible project, Destination Asia Indonesia has created a special a half-day program taking place at R.O.L.E. Foundation in Nusa Dua. Guests have the chance to interact with the students, learn about the commercial and eco-friendly initiatives they are working on, practice how to make Jamu (traditional herbal medicine of Indonesia), and can pass on their own knowledge in a computing (if desired) to teach the students some basic computer skills (e.g. PowerPoint presentations). Conversations in English help the students focus on developing their basic grammar, conversation and pronunciation.
This program helps poor and marginalized women from Indonesia to receive skills education, and ultimately, find better-paid work in the hospitality industry to give them the chance of gaining ground in the tourism Industry. In this way we can help break the poverty cycle.
Hong Kong’s Food Angel
Since March 2011, Food Angel has provided over 4,653,335 meals and rescued over 4,004,282 kg of surplus food from going to the landfills of Hong Kong. On a daily basis they prepare more than 7000 hot meals. They operate a daily volunteer service that can get quite busy (best to book at least one month in advance), guests will don aprons, hair nets and masks then wash their hands and put on gloves before setting foot in the kitchen.
Working together in a production line, guests fill meal boxes with a range of food items, from hot rice and vegetables to chicken and other delights before they are whisked away into heat bags and sent off to those very much in need. This is an excellent initiative to support as despite the towering skyscrapers and world-leading city images we are used to, Hong Kong is also a city of contrasts and it is estimated that around 970,000 people are living in poverty here. Among which over 30% are elderly citizens, and over 20% are children under the age of 18.
Vinh Long Community Build
Head south, deep into the heart of the Mekong Delta where approximately one third of Vietnam’s population reside. The day begins with a journey to Cai Be to see the colorful floating markets and local barges, providing insight into the local trades plied here. After checking in to a nearby homestay, we then take a boat (or cycle), to a nearby area that is being used to develop local housing. The focus will be helping to construct a new home through laboring and practical building tasks. Breaking into groups, there will be a variety of tasks to undertake each day of the project, from laying bricks to mixing cement, assembling frames, sawing and transporting materials. Local tradesmen and tour leaders will be supervising and assisting throughout the project. On the final day we enjoy a delicious meal together and are entertained with a traditional music show.
Lunch at Abai Village
This initiative aims to give back to the villagers of Abai Village by providing them with the opportunity to earn additional income. Guests visit a local village for a short briefing on a tree-planting project that is an option available for guests who wish to take part. Guests are then invited to join ‘The Most Beautiful House Competition’, which is followed by a light and tasty lunch prepared by the villagers of Abai Village. After learning more about local traditions, we take a walk around the village and vote for the most beautiful house – this is designed to encourage villagers to provide the best local experience for visitors – and once the votes are tallied, an incentive will be presented to the owner of the winning house. Villagers also ply locally prepared meals to visitors, instead of relying on handouts, helping them become self-sustaining.
Tsumugi Fabric Making in Japan
Amami Oshima is a large island located just north of Okinawa’s main island. It is home to incredibly beautiful and clean waters, with its coral reef one of its biggest charms. The white sandy beaches are extremely inviting and a swimming season runs from March till October. In addition, the local culture is immensely rich and differs from the Japanese mainland. Shimauta folk songs are reminiscent of Okinawa’s, although the sansen string instrument and singing style is different from Okinawa’s sanshin.
The main local craft is tsumugi fabric making, a labor intense craft that produces beautiful fabric woven by hand and used for kimono. Silk threads are spun and dyed one by one with thermal mud and coal, before being woven together to create complex designs and patterns. Guests can observe the entire process at Tsumugimura, from the dyeing to weaving. The facility is made of a few small buildings located in a beautiful tropical garden, and is devoted to preserving this craft by sustaining the local artisans who keep it alive.
A shop with kimono, other clothes and ornaments made with tsumugi fabric sells them at prices on the premium side (unsurprisingly due to quality of the fabric), but a purchase here is an investment in a precious garment that will last a life time and support the Amami artisans. Alternatively, guests may also try a tsumugi kimono on for a small extra fee; or try their hands at dyeing a t-shirt in the thermal mud pools.