Written on: 04/06/2012 by kate.barry22 (1 review written)
My experience with GVI in Kenya was truly invaluable, both professionally and personally. The internship gave me all the tools I needed to create sustainable eco-tourism projects at our partner placement KEEP in Kakamega Forest. I worked directly with the women’s group there and together we create a community tour program, with the women as the tour guides. This alternative lifestyle not only empowered the women with education about conservation initiatives like bee-keeping and tree nurseries, but with supplemental income that will be invested in their families and the community at large. The women have inspired me to continue working in the sustainable development field, specifically in community development and ecotourism. The project also proved to me how community-led and community owned operations and businesses are models that can work sustainably. My greatest moment at GVI came at the end of my 10 week work placement when the women organized, programmed and facilitated a community tour for 10 visiting students. They made enough money to register themselves as a CBO and opened an account to invest in conservation projects, and also gave them a little something to take home for themselves. The women are out of the forest, but not yet out of the woods. They have long-term goals related to conservation that they have laid out to continue their entrepreneurship, education and empowerment. The work I did there laid the groundwork for my masters in sustainable development, and the experience has granted me the tools to start my career in the field.