By: Ben Sauvage
It is 6:30 P.M. in the Dominican Republic. I am seated on a rock, overlooking the sunset on top of the Anamuya Mountain in the Vista Alegre community. Vista Alegre is just 20 minutes away from the breathtaking, white powder sand and crystal-clear beaches of Punta Cana, but is a faraway dream for so many habitants of this rural underprivileged community.
After the passage of Hurricane Irma, we along with our client, shared a vision to transform a neglected and damaged rural school into a stimulating new learning center for 85 children.
As I lift up my head, I see in the blushing sun, the main teacher approaching and giving me an old class book as a present. She tells me how this book was the first she could ever afford and how, during all of her youth in this same community, she couldn’t go to school at the same time as her brother. Since they had to use the same shoes and uniform he went in the morning and she went in the afternoon. They switched clothes at lunch in order for both of them to attend school and get a better education.
We both looked at the new “Vista Alegre” school where, thanks to the generous donations of our client and their group participants over the course of 3 months, we could build a hurricane-proof roof, book shelves, benches, school tables, fans, restrooms and a full playground. We also planted trees and grass surrounding the property and closed it in with a new painted fence and gravel. Most important of all was installation of Internet and electricity so the children could have access to new technologies and discover the world!
Over 200 volunteers worked together with the children on the final touches and donated amazing books, back packs, dental kits, uniforms, shoes and even bicycles for those who live remotely and have to walk a couple of hours to get to school every day.
Sitting here on this rock, looking at this accomplishment and its meaning for this amazing school and community, I realize the important role Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has in the Incentive Travel industry. Giving just a little bit of time, we created a lasting legacy that has transformed the lives of the community and also inspired teamwork and collaboration.
Since our experience with Vista Alegre, we have provided support to several rural schools, orphanages and baseball play grounds, impacting group participants’ experiences and involving local communities working together towards a better sustainable education. Conscious of the long-lasting importance of the accomplished work, we also train our communities to continue to manage these new resources.
In 2016 the United Nations developed 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to transform our world that embrace a wide variety of subjects:
By embracing these goals, CSR actions create a bridge between travelers and the local communities. Our company has embraced SDG goals N#4, N#10 and N#11 to work on interaction and integration by providing a better and sustainable education and a better life for the underprivileged.
Each of the above SDGs is of equal importance - you might relate more to a certain one than another. On a personal and organizational level, and for a better future for the generations to come, start by choosing just one and start apply it in your organization and household.
And remember, any action towards sustainability is a positive action - each little step counts to change the world!
About Ben Sauvage:
Ben Sauvage, DMCP, CMP, CIS is the founder and CEO of Connect DMC, President Elect of the SITE Florida & Caribbean Chapter, Member of the SITE Global Sustainability Committee and is a certified EIC Sustainable Event Professional.