Author: Delinah Mijide
I am Delinah.
My heart and passion are in sustainable travel. Travel that not only respects the local people’s norms and culture but promotes healthy ecosystems and fosters economic growth.
How it all began…
My journey started when I joined campus. I pursued a course in Ecotourism and Hospitality Management. I fell in love with Ecotourism, and that’s what I majored in.
During the holidays, I would volunteer my skills at Nguuni Nature Sanctuary. We formed a bird club where we would enrol the local kids. This assisted the community greatly since the children would be preoccupied in meaningful activities.
This Sanctuary was, in all sense, an eco-facility. It was a Bamburi cement factory quarry reserve turned into nature heaven. The juicy part is that all its proceeds were used to cater for the community’s health, library and education services.
Nguuni is where I started fulfilling my purpose. Seeing children benefit from this tourism facility by learning about the environment, getting health services, and education was a great experience.
Moreover, after finishing campus, I volunteered my services to Mlilo Community based tourism organization. This facility was amazing, and it became a second home for me. It brought together a group of women that are skilled in basket weaving, the traditional style. Their craft is spectacular. Though they had great activities and initiatives of taking care of the environment, their earnings were minimal.
In 2018 I came up with a project of highlighting sustainable brands in Kenya that change the lives of the communities around them. This was a special dedication to the unspoken heroes. I was urging people to recognize these sites, whose proceeds greatly trickle down to the grassroots.
This is a buzzer for tourists to visit such hidden gems that call for a climate emergency by mitigating its effects—the hard to visit sites that provide livelihood and protects our culture and history. For these facilities to carry on with their mission, tourists have to visit them. Eco facilities impact our counties in a huge way, and it’s time for us to wake up and support them.
My blog (Eco Traveller)
My blog, the Eco Traveller also brings awareness to eco traveller practices. Assisting those who want to travel while reducing their impacts on the environment and respecting the local people.
My simple mantra is respect, conserve, and enjoy. I adapted it from the United Nations World Tourism Organization(UNWTO).
In March 2020, with the collaboration of my three supportive colleagues Eddie Mors, Vivian Kobe, and Cornelius, we found WorthWhile Travel Hub, a social enterprise that promotes a sustainable tourism sector in Kenya.
Through tweetchats every Tuesday of the week, we engage students, entrepreneurs, and professionals in the sector.
So far, I have received some positive feedback from travellers and Tour Operators who have visited my site.
One tourist learned how to reduce their carbon footprints during their travel through one of my articles. He was impressed and vowed to be more environmentally conscious.
Also, tour operators learnt about crisis communication, especially during a COVID-19 crisis, a great way to help build a resilient tourism environment.
Finally, organizations such as Enviro Wild has noticed my work.
I have faced hurdles during my journey. Having a stable income while carrying out my life’s purpose is crucial. But, it can be hectic and frustrating because you need a source of livelihood to cater for all the expenses you are going to incur.
Sometimes the traffic to my site is minimal, and it can be demoralizing knowing people are not reading your content. However, it challenged me to improve my writing skills, do thorough research, think of a business venture, and make meaningful interactions and connections.
What next is on my plate..
There is an upcoming business project with Mlilo Community based tourism organization called Kidasi. This project came from a good place.
My main goal is to give the women’s group a source of stable income while holding on to their cultural practices and handcrafts. Kidasi will foster empowerment and conservation of culture and ecosystems.
I partnered with Mlilo Community based tourism organization to make handmade, eco-friendly designer bags and baskets from sisal, leather, and kitenge materials.
The 17 SDGs will be incorporated, making sure that we strategically partner with other organizations to fulfil our goals, provide decent work and economic development, promote responsible production and consumption, and take climate action.
Our vision is to work with all tourism community-based organizations in Kenya to showcase different handcraft works from all the 42 tribes and provide a sustainable source of income.
I would love for these groups to be independent and not only depend on tourism numbers for livelihood.
As the world is under the Coronavirus pandemic and Tourism is paralysed, these communities do not benefit from their art since they earn from tourism activities. However, this project will help them have an alternative source of income.
Conservation is vital to a healthy ecosystem, community, and economy. Conservation is all about holding on to what is unique and critical to our survival and identity: culture, flora, fauna, and the non-living resources on earth.
Sustainable tourism is the new normal. I conclude with a favourite quote from an icon in sustainable tourism matters Judy Kepher Gona “Sustainability will eventually either by disaster or design take over tourism and all sectors.”