There a lot of talk about being responsible, it’s the new buzz word in the industry, and sadly in some cases that’s all it is. Cambodia as a developing country needs a truly responsible tourism sector to help that development work in harmony with the environment and truly benefit local people.
Being responsible is very much a partnership, we see our role as a very important one, but every visitor to Cambodia also has a very important part to play.
At Sojourn we work hard to operate in an ethical and responsible way. We take steps, big and small to continue to work towards this goal. Our non government organization HUSK was established to formalize the work that we undertake within the community. Please visit HUSK on facebook or the HUSK website to find out more. Husk Cambodia Website
Read on to learn more about the steps we are taking and what you can do to help;
Visiting – Here are some things to keep in mind.
We strongly believe that every visitor makes an impact and you have the ability to make yours a positive one.
Employment in the tourism sector is a fundamental part of families income and so just by visiting you are already helping. Here are a few more tips you can follow in being a responsible visitor.
Be aware of prices that are extremely cheap – some may offer a good deal to visitors but local staff’s salaries or conditions may not be such a good deal!
- Be mindful of scams – The Milk Scam is a common occurrence. Children carrying babies ask you to purchase baby formula rather than give money. This is a scam with the shop and the ‘pimp’ benefiting, (the milk is simply sold back). This places children at risk and places them in a dependent cycle. Think about where this leads when the are older.
- Do not give money to beggars or street children. If you would like to help find an organisation that supports these people and helps them to break the begging cycle.
- Remember that you are a visitor and when in villages or walking around in town be sensitive to peoples lives and privacy and think before just taking pictures or walking into someone’s house or land.
- Try to visit well run organisations that support local people, promote Khmer culture and invest in the local community. 75% of children in Orphanges have one living parent. Be aware of orphanage tourism.
- Be aware that cultural differences do exist and some behaviours which are normal at home and not appropriate in Cambodia.
- Do not try to touch monks & be mindful of your dress code, especially in villages and at the temples.
- Be aware your behaviour influences local people.
- Please don’t litter – help educate the local community by leading by example!
Pack for a Purpose
We are proud members of Pack for a Purpose, an initiative that allows travelers like you to make a lasting impact in the community at your travel destination. If you save just a few kilos of space in your suitcase and bring supplies for area schools or medical clinics in need, you’ll make a priceless impact in the lives of our local children and families. Please click here to see what supplies are needed for our project/projects.
HUSK is our NGO and is supported by Sojourn, our other businesses and donations from generous guests. Through HUSK we support two main villages and in 2014 will start to extend our support to a third village.
We work within these villages in three main areas.
- Village Health and Wellbeing
- Sustainable Village Projects
We take an active role in the running and day to day operations of HUSK including teaching children within the village on a weekly basis.
Village Health and Wellbeing
We support families in the greatest need and assist them with the basic needs. Adequate Housing, Access to safe drinking water through the provision of water wells and water filters. Assisting with areas to help provide basic food needs for families – provision of vegetable gardens, vertical gardens, and fruit trees.
At a glance
- We have over 95 families that we are in regular contact with, with the HUSK team undertaking family visits to check on needs.
- We have rebuilt close to twenty houses in entirety and conducted repairs to many more.
- We have over 160 water filters that we regularly check and assist to maintain
- We have provided more than 50 water wells
- We have close to 20 vertical gardens providing vegetable growing capacity for families in need.
We have established a community school in Kompheim village and provide free English education to students from Kompheim village and the surrounding area.
Over 280 students attend three times per week from Grade 1 to Grade 8.
We see English as the greatest tool to help break the poverty cycle. When these students come of age to enter the workforce their options are greatly enhanced by having English skills. Rather than menial labour they will have the ability to secure full time work and embark on a career path.
Sustainable Village Projects
One of the greatest challenges for families is simply the capacity to earn an income. For vulnerable families with no skills the only option is farming or construction work – both of which are back breaking and seasonal. When the work runs out families are placed at significant risk. Our sustainable village projects program aims to enable people outside the main tourism area to benefit from tourism and earn an income to support their families.
We work in partnership with Beyond Unique Escapes and have a number of tours that support the village community at Kompheim.
Our Softies program has trained 8 women in sewing and they now produce soft toys which are sold locally and overseas.
- We buy local where ever possible
- Bakong Pottery made by a local NGO supporting women can be found in our restaurant
- Ibis Rice – Wildlife and Farmer Friendly rice
- Eggcellent Eggs
- Three Corner Coffee
- Wild Samlout Honey
- Water Hyacinth products in our rooms & spa are made by Osmose
- Our team truly is our greatest asset
- We promote local employment and train and develop our team
- We have provided traineeships for unskilled local people and provided employment through Origins Spa
- We provide fair employment conditions and salaries to all staff
- We offer subsidized child care services
- We provide extended paid maternity leave for staff
- Annual bonuses are provided to all staff
- We work with our team to support them in their educational pursuits
- We provide healthy a healthy lunch or dinner meal to all staff and work to education on nutrition
- We work hard to reduce our impact on the environment
- Our water is treated to ensure waste water is safe to release
- We have all hot water at Sojourn provided through solar energy with gas as back up only
- We use low energy inverter Air Conditioners in over 80% of rooms
- Low energy light bulbs are used
- We have an active recycling program
- We are working with suppliers to reduce the use of plastic bags
- We compost all fruit and vegetable scraps
- Guests are offered water and energy saving laundry options
We proudly support ConCert and encourage you to visit the ConCert office to learn more about the NGO’s working to make Cambodia a better place. ConCert is working with 20 organisations who all have met strict criteria to become members. This provides you with the ideal place to start researching how you can offer further assistance should you choose to do so.