The benefits for the village of Atsiekpoe of bringing in tourists, consist of the following:
Every traveller who comes to Atsiekpoe pays entrance/excursions fees. This amount minus the allowance for the guide, goes into the 'community fund'. The community fund has been established in February 2008 as an initiative to generate money from tourism for the development of the village. In this way, the whole community profits from the visitors brought in by Jolinaiko Eco Tours.
The villagers also generate funds during their yearly festive fundraising rally. In the last four years they were able to fund electricity poles and wiring in this way, purchase a motorized canoe taxi and building materials for the community latrines, tourist reception and museum. Stakeholder meetings have been organized by Jolinaiko Eco Tours to generate discussion about the main needs for development. The main priorities set by the community leaders are improving sanitation, access to clean drinking water and building a community centre. Jolinaiko Eco Tours seeks extra financial and technical support through the Stepping Stones for Africa Foundation for achieving these basic needs.
The Village Lodge
The Village Lodge that Jolinaiko Eco Tours has built, creates work for the village: in the ongoing building process as well as when it is receiving guests. The lodge creates a demand for toiletries, food and souvenirs. Jolinaiko stimulates and coaches villagers in setting up their own businesses that provide services for the lodge.
Jolinaiko Eco Tours coaches the villagers in the development of excursions and workshops for the visiting tourists. This generates an income for those involved. Examples are a traditional drumming-dancing performance by the youth association, a visit to the blind story-telling elder of the village, a fishing trip on the Volta with a local fisherman or learning to weave mats.
Jolinaiko Eco Tours is working together with the Dutch organization Meet Africa for the placement of long-term volunteers in the village.
Stepping Stones for Africa
In Africa there are a lot of ambitious and dedicated people, but most of them find it difficult, if not impossible, to accomplish their dreams and goals. In rural areas there is a lack of education, knowledge, services and financial means.
In 2005, Apollo Panou was one of those people. A Dutch foundation, the Stepping Stones for Africa Foundation, was his missing link in realizing his ambitions with Jolinaiko Eco Tours. The foundation helped him create a steady flow of clients by building this website and offering advice.
Now, Jolinaiko Eco Tours acts as a partner for the Stepping Stones for Africa Foundation. Together we hope to be able to be a 'stepping stone' for other dedicated people. By listening to the village and its inhabitants, Jolinaiko hopes to make a difference and to be able to be a catalyst for positive developments in the village aimed towards a higher quality of life.
Visit the Stepping Stones for Africa Foundation website for more information about the achievements and ongoing projects in Atsiekpoe and other villages.
The achievements of Jolinaiko Eco Tours and Stepping Stones for Africa have contributed to a very positive attitude of the village towards the presence of Jolinaiko Eco Tours, and consequently Apollo's wife, Cindy Noordermeer-Panou, was given the honorary title of 'Queen Mother of Atsiekpoe' ('Mama Dunenyo') in January 2010.