The objective of medo's Ngöbe ecotourism project is to design and implement infrastructure, facilities, leisure activities, and advertising to bring tourists, and thus promote its sustainable development, to Soloy, a community in the Ngöbe-Buglé Comarca (Reservation), Panama.
The Ngöbe people have few resources and employment opportunities, making them one of the poorest groups in Panama. Unemployment is widespread throughout the Comarca, and the average family income is less than $200 per year. Therefore, there is little capital with which to develop infrastructure for the community. Some of the particular problems that the Ngöbe face associated with this extensive poverty are child labor, poor health care, lack of potable drinking water, ill-maintained roads and inadequate education. Thus, any source of income or employment would make a huge difference in the community by providing some capital with which to address these problems.
In addition to the financial benefits even a few visitors would bring to the community, the cultural exchange will also profit the community. As more people become aware of the problems faced by this indigenous group, there will be more and more support for other sustainable development projects.
For these reasons, this project will promote ecotourism in the Ngöbe community of Soloy.
The preliminary goals are to construct the facilities to receive visitors, develop leisure activities, and train local community members as staff.
The facilities will be simple; once funds are secured, construction can begin on a cinderblock building which will have sleeping areas, a kitchen, a living space, staff housing, and an area where local artisans can display and sell their work. The family of Mr. Jose Pepe Bejerano and Mrs. Ana Rios, has already pledged to donate the land needed to build the boarding house.
The leisure activities envisioned by the project include horseback riding, nature walks, bird-watching, stargazing, river rafting, swimming, and cultural activities which can include language, history, craft, and dance lessons, tours of the community, and sharing traditional meals with families. Additionally, an Ngöbe Botanical Garden is being built which will also be a visitor attraction.
The Project will promote Soloy as a destination for the adventurous traveler by sending advertising flyers to hostels and hotels in Panama and Costa Rica. The Project will also maintain a website and pursue promotion in guide books.
The Ngöbe Ecotourism Project is in its early stages of development.
Currently, the project's resources include:
Who can volunteer for this project?
Volunteers should preferably have some experience in tourism, even if that experience is being well traveled. Volunteers should ideally speak Spanish and English and be self motivated and good with people.
Visitors will help in the sustainable development of Soloy by: providing
a source of employment and income, being a market for the products of
local artisans, engaging in cultural exchange and being aware of other
development projects. Additionally, this project can be a model for other
Ngöbe-Buglé communities to follow, uplifting the entire area.
Volunteers are needed to come develop this project.