Lemon Tree Tours
In this issue of The VolunTourist Newsletter, we are taking a closer look at how VolunTourism may be able to contribute, in part, to supporting the Millennium Development Goals, specifically, and development in general. Amy Adler has her own thoughts on this subject, in particular, how her efforts with Lemon Tree Tours have been built upon the foundation of a long-term framework for operating with the well-being of Peruvians as the uppermost consideration in the design and implementation of her tours.
Background & History Of Lemon Tree Tours
Lemon Tree Tours is a small voluntour business that attempts to harness the enthusiasm and good intentions of the many travelers that visit Peru each year into productive and sustainable health-related projects.
Lemon Tree was started by nurse practitioner Amy Adler in response to what she saw as a lack of opportunities for interested health and wellness professionals to put their skills and pocketbooks to use improving the health of the communities visited while traveling for work or leisure. In her own travels Amy has found that many good intentions go to waste, because travelers passing through are unable to connect with the groups doing good sustainable work. Often the best intentions result in mismanaged, unsuccessful, or unsustainable projects. Travelers usually do not have the time to follow-up on the outcome of their donations. At Lemon Tree, Amy attempts to do the legwork for travelers by indentifying successful local organizations and following-up to ensure that the money and time donated turn into meaningful improvements for the community.
Choosing to stick with what she knows, at Lemon Tree Amy has focused on projects related to health. Throughout nursing school Amy participated as a volunteer on projects in Latin America, and gained experience working with local communities and health care providers to identify areas of need and achieve results in a short period of time. These results were only possible, because she was part of a larger ongoing effort. At Lemon Tree, this model is replicated by connecting voluntourists to existing local projects.
A Philosophy Based Upon Personal Experience
Lemon Tree aims to establish long lasting relationships with the communities it works in, developing sustainable projects with the guidance of the community and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs). By harnessing the power of many volunteers, each contributing small amounts of their time, Lemon Tree believes it is possible to contribute to lasting improvements.
All projects operate under the guiding principal of “Do No Harm”. Rather than swooping in to pass out pills for a few weeks, Lemon Tree seeks to connect with local organizations and support their projects, helping them to build local capacity through education and collaboration with local providers. A portion of trip fees is used to reimburse the local clinicians for their time by contributing to a fund that is used to purchase necessary medical supplies. It is extremely important to Amy that these trips acknowledge the experience and wisdom of the local health providers who do their best in these resource poor settings.
By taking a holistic approach that combines sightseeing, language lessons, and a volunteer experience, Lemon Tree makes it possible for travelers to develop more meaningful connections with the local community. Travelers will come home with incredible memories and the ability to communicate more effectively in Spanish.
Nature's Classroom: The Ultimate Fieldtrip
Tourism activities, such as viewing wildlife, are not just considered vacation, but necessary background information. Before diving into a community and providing health care or information, it is important to understand the culture and learn a little bit of the language. The tourism activities allow volunteers to familiarize themselves with the setting in which locals are striving to improve their health and begin to understand local values and health practices.
All Lemon Tree tours include some Medical Spanish lessons and an introduction to native medicine, which plays a big role in the native community of Infierno. Voluntourists will visit the community’s medicinal garden and learn a little bit about native medicine from a local shaman.
Voluntourists Working Towards the Millennium Development Goals
One of the Millennium Development Goals listed on the World Health Organization website is to “halve by 2015 the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking-water and sanitation”. Voluntourists can help meet this goal in the rainforest of Peru by spending the day building water filters in the native community of Inferno. Part of the day may also be spent in the local Health Post. Activities in the Health Post will vary given the abilities of the volunteer and the patient load.
In Infierno a lack of clean water and a poorly equipped Health Post present major obstacles to good health. The journey along a dirt road that is often washed out during the rainy season makes it difficult for patients to reach the hospital. Once they do make it to the nearest hospital they are often turned away, even for emergency surgery, if they cannot pay. The technical nurses and obstetrician who staff the Health Post in rotations have put together a wish list, including such basics as gauze and electricity, that would help them better serve their clients. A portion of the trip proceeds will help the community purchase these items. Voluntourists may also leave donations of gloves, gauze, vitamins, and school supplies.
If you are interested in donating, click here.
A Sample Itinerary
Lemon Tree offers several trips of varying lengths. Below is a 6-day itinerary, but 10-day itineraries are available for wildlife lovers and those interested in learning more about the dynamics of forest preservation, slash and burn farming, and gold-mining in the Peruvian rainforest. Extension trips to the Sacred Valley are also available for those interested in hiking the Inca Trail or visiting the famed Machu Picchu.
Day 1: Upon arrival at the Puerto Maldonado airport you will begin the journey to the Tambopata River Port in the Native Community of Infierno. From Infierno, you will head up river to an eco-lodge that will serve as home base for your activities. In the afternoon, take in the view of the Amazon Basin from the Canopy Tower and relax in a hammock until your candlelight dinner.
Day 2: Hike to the Parrot Clay Lick in the morning for some incredible wildlife viewing. Then settle in for your afternoon Medical Spanish class in the open-air classroom surrounded by the sounds of the jungle.
Day 3: Wake up and start your day with a Medical Spanish class and then tour the community’s medicinal garden with the local shaman. After dinner take a night walk to view some of the nocturnal jungle creatures.
Day 4: Spend the day with the shaman and his staff in his garden and jungle laboratory and ask questions until your heart is content.
Day 5: Return to the community of Infierno to build water filters and visit the health post. Then spend the night in the town of Puerto Maldonado.
Day 6: Take a tour of the local hospital before heading of to the airport to catch your flight.
Facebook: Fans of Lemon Tree Tours
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