ME to WE provides you with the opportunity to experience life with locals in rural Kenya, working on sustainable projects that benefit these communities in the longer term.
Supporting our charity of the year: WE Charity
By Social Media Executive Alice
Last year Audley partnered up with WE Charity; an international initiative which helps communities to lift themselves out of poverty using a holistic, sustainable, five-pillar development model.
We chose them as our ‘charity of the year’ and pledged to raise £50,000 ($62,000) to rebuild a community health clinic in rural Kalthana, northern India. The clinic — which provides medical care to pregnant women and young children — was in such poor condition that it was unable to be used.
In order to fulfil our promise, we set up a designated fundraising team of passionate Audley employees from all three of our offices. Through various activities such as language lessons taught by our country specialists, a raffle with prizes donated from the local community, festive wreath making and many sponsored charity events, we have reached the total of £30,000 ($37,000).
As our fundraising team wasn’t formed until July 2016, we extended WE’s ‘charity of the year’ status until the end of 2017. We then made an initial donation to enable the clinic to be rebuilt as soon as possible. Audley’s donation will allow WE staff to bring basic health services and prevention initiatives to Kalthana with a focus on early childhood education, maternal and child health through the coordination of mobile health services, support of the government and the delivery of health education to the community.
The new health clinic
Alice with some of the local community inside the clinic
At the end of last year, half of the fundraising team flew to rural Rajasthan to witness the developments on the project. We were joined by our founder Craig Burkinshaw, Lyn Hughes from Wanderlust Magazine, Lloyd who set up the community projects on behalf of WE in this part of India and Gabby from the ME to WE arm of the Charity. ME to WE is an innovative social enterprise, which gives visitors the opportunity to go on authentic trips to rural areas supported by WE Charity. Proceeds from the accommodation go directly to supporting WE projects across India.
For the duration of our visit, we stayed at Araveli Cottages and Tented Camp, which is the ME to WE initiative in India. While staying at the camp we were able to visit local people who helped us understand how the charity is changing their lives. This included replacing the stoves in their houses to ones which exhale the smoke outside of the home to prevent respiratory diseases, they had also installed private toilets at local schools to encourage more girls to attend. In our free time we helped to lay the foundations of a new school, took a Bollywood dance lesson and learnt traditional arts and crafts with a local artisan.
Laying the foundations for a school
Learning arts and crafts
On our second day in Rajasthan, we were given vibrant headscarves and a basic Hindi lesson from our guide Kapil before heading off to meet the villagers in Kalthana. We were warmly welcomed into the community with flowers, music and a dance from the local children in celebration of the reopening of the health clinic before having a tour. Although the main building of the health clinic has now been built, there are plenty of things that aren’t complete such as the toilet, and ongoing costs are required to run and develop the clinic.
We have lots more fundraising plans for the coming months such as a speaker event at Cadogan Hall in London — details of this will be announced soon, and Audley employees Mat Hall and James Herbert will be running in the 2017 London Marathon. You can help us reach our target by donating to our Virgin Money Giving page.
Include a ME to WE initiative in your trip with Audley
A stay at the Minga Lodge offers a unique opportunity to get to grips with what life is really like in the Amazon. Culturally, this is far more in-depth, interactive and rewarding than a regular Amazon visit and allows you to spend time with the local community during your stay.