The projects listed below represent past projects that we have supported. The Spirit of Big Five Foundation concentrates on providing small grants to projects and organizations that adhere to the best practices of sustainable tourism. Each project must demonstrate one or more of the following principles: successful community development, support for nature and habitat conservation, promotion of environmentally sensitive operations, or help safeguard cultural heritage.
The 2010 Haiti earthquake was a catastrophic, magnitude 7.0 earthquake. For a country that has experienced more than its share of hardship, the burden of rebuilding weighs especially heavily. After working to determine how best to support the people of Haiti in this endeavor, the foundation partnered with The Bodhi Tree Foundation to support the work of Edeyo, a non-profit working on the ground in Port-au-Prince to help affected children and their families. The Spirit of Big Five Foundation and The Bodhi Tree Foundation offered matching funds to support this important grassroots organization.
The Center for Recycling of Solid Waste: Fabricio Valverde Environmental Park, was a much-needed recycling facility on Santa Cruz Island, and the first of its kind in the Galapagos. In addition to the recycling center, Fundacion Galapagos is involved in community education and training oriented towards sustainable development, and coastal clean up. In collaboration with our partners at Metropolitan Touring, Big Five provided funding to assist with its development and operation and was a Platinum Sponsor for the facility.
Heritage Watch was founded in 2003 as a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting Cambodia’s cultural heritage. Based in Phnom Penh, its goals are to prevent looting and illicit trade of antiquities in Cambodia while promoting tourism and economic development that is responsible, sustainable, and “heritage-friendly.”
In 2007, Heritage Watch launched an innovative project of heritage protection and poverty alleviation through sustainable tourism at one of Southeast Asia’s largest temple complexes, the ancient Khmer capital of Koh Ker. The site was heavily plundered in the 1990s, but much of it was still intact. Its future protection hinges on the well-being of the local community and their ability to benefit from tourism. Heritage Watch has provided training in heritage protection and conservation for the local community, organizing and equipping community patrols to protect the temples from looting. Heritage Watch has already established a baseline survey of past looting at the temples, and using this, recent thefts can easily be detected. These patrols are also provided with training in basic environmental management.
Southern Environmental Association (SEA) is a community conservation organization working to protect critically important marine protected areas of the Belize Barrier Reef, the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere. The Spirit of Big Five Foundation joined other international groups, including Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy, and World Wildlife Fund, to help SEA in these efforts. SEA has been active since 1996, and has worked to protect and manage two critically important marine protected areas in the Belize Barrier Reef Complex: Laughing Bird Caye National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve, a high biodiversity hotspot. The Spirit of Big Five Foundation grant went directly to support SEA’s scientific monitoring and management of the Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve. The funds supported ranger patrols to prevent illegal poaching within the marine protected area, scientific data collection used to carry out environmental impact assessments from unregulated coastal development, and local community educational outreach, including funding marine conservation awareness and teaching about the environment in collaboration with local elementary schools.
Veerayatan was founded more than 40 years ago in Bihar, India to help provide for some of the poorest of India’s citizens through medical care and education. Big Five worked with this organization for several years, funding a mobile van that carries out eye camps and provides other medical care. The non-profit Veerayatan Center is home to a modern, world-class eye hospital and orthopedic center. The 52,600-square-foot facility has 150 beds for eye patients and 50 beds for polio victims. Visiting and resident volunteer doctors have performed almost 112,000 eye operations, and carried out more than 727,000 outpatient procedures. Doctors and staff have also helped more than 2,500 polio patients. The center’s mobile van takes food and medical care into more than 1,358 villages.
Education is fundamental to Veerayatan, and it established several primary education and vocational training centers throughout the region of Kutch, India that serve the needs of more than 10,000 students annually. Several permanent centers rely on volunteers, both resident and international, to fulfill a broad range of tasks from teaching and fieldwork to administration and communications.