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The story of Ciprina

Date: April 24, 2020 | By: Deborah Kilcollins | Category: Travel Blog

Dear Agency Partner

This week my theme to many of you on our Live with Five calls was singular… you matter! I wanted to share where that came from. On an early call Monday, Paul Dorgan, our VP of sales, who many of you know, said that I seemed off. This man is a teacher to me who can read me like a book. He wasn’t wrong. I shared with him that I was angry; furious, in fact. More, in fact, than I have been in 10 years. Yet I wasn’t angry at the current situation, though that could be justified.

You see, this week, I was told a story from our nonprofit partner in Peru, Awamaki, an active project for the Spirit of Big Five Foundation and GIB 5.0 that empowers women in the Andes, providing $4 in income for $1 of donation, which allows them the right to earn a wage that supports their family. It also teaches entrepreneurship through weaving. As tourism has come to a grinding halt, so too has the community building efforts of our organization and many others like us as those grants are all derived from tourism. We keep hearing about the fallout, however, I wanted to put a face to it this time.

This is the story of Ciprina from the Kelcancha community, one of the weaving communities our foundation supports. Her youngest son was in school which had closed. As any mother would, she would get to her son no matter what. Her husband lost his job working for the Inca Trail and she has no weaving work at present from any of the buyers in Lima. They are not eligible yet for the government allowance to get food, and it has been raining too much for them to dig food out of the ground. With no food and no transport, Ciprina left her village at 12 pm on March 15 on foot to get her son and bring him home. She reached her son after 7 am the next morning, after getting transport for a small portion of the trip to Ollanta.

At first, I was furious because no woman, man or child should have to do that while not having money for food. By the end of the week, I was more motivated than ever. You see the travel industry is all about purpose.

Every action we take as sustainable companies is with purpose… to provide a bright light for people like Ciprina. She represents the face of this struggle. In the middle of all this struggle, I wanted all our agency partners to know that you matter. What you have been going through and the actions you have taken to bring all your clients home has been nothing short of herculean.

Times like these tend to bring out the best and, sadly, the worst in people. I want you, when dealing with the latter, to remember Ciprina. There is an end in sight for us, and we represent hope for her and countless more like her. So on your darkest day, please remember, you matter.

Stay safe, stay strong.

Ashish Sanghrajka

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