Responsible Tourism Opportunities
With Trailblazer Foundation
Trailblazer Foundation is committed to the idea and promise of sustainable rural community development in Cambodia’s Siem Reap Province. We work to improve health, food security, education, and economic development in rural Cambodia, in ways that are self-sustaining by the individuals and communities we serve. While headquartered in the United States, Trailblazer Foundation (TF) has permanent staff in Cambodia, and works directly with our affiliate, indigenous organization, Trailblazer Angkor (TA). It is Trailblazer Angkor’s staff that implements the vast majority of our work in the rural villages of Siem Reap Province.
While Trailblazer Foundation is not in the tourism business, we do partner with a number of tour companies to provide their clients and guests with  an on-site learning, or  a hands-on helping, experience. These experiences fall into two internationally recognized categories:
Responsible Tourism: tourism which minimizes negative social, economic and environmental impacts on the local people, culture and environment, and generates greater economic benefits for local people while enhancing the well being of host communities.
Voluntourism: a form of tourism in which travellers do voluntary work to help communities or the environment in the places they are visiting.
Trailblazer Foundation offers experiences for tourists that range in duration from an hour or two visit to our office/work site, to a half day field trip, to a week or more of working as a volunteer. In exchange for these learning or work experiences, Trailblazer asks our visitors to consider making a financial contribution to Trailblazer’s activities.
Costs: For each of the following options, Trailblazer does not require a fee for staff time. Instead, we ask our visitors to consider making a financial contribution to help support our operations costs. We do ask our guests to cover the costs of any transportation (including a driver and interpreter) or food (cooked by one or more villagers) we may provide. Specifically, Trailblazer will charge $50-75 if Trailblazer is asked to provide the transportation ($50 for no more than three guests, $75 for more than three guests). Finally, if the guest(s) are going out for three or more hours, and they would like a lunch cooked and served by one or more women from a village, that lunch will cost $5 per person.
Listed below are the six options for responsible tourism and voluntourism that Trailblazer offers. To learn more about these options, and discuss these and other possible responsible tourism and voluntourism collaborations, please contact Chris Coats, Trailblazer’s co-founder and Executive Director, at:
1) Office/Work Site Visit: This is a one-to-two hour visit to our Siem Reap headquarters and work site, the location of Trailblazer Foundation’s (and Trailblazer Angkor’s office, water filter construction facility, and research gardens). Here, visitors will see how Trailblazer functions on a daily basis, including the construction of our water filters, the research we are conducting in our agricultural test plots, and the administration of our operation.
Please contact us to set up a visit; there is not fee; rather, at the end of the visit, Trailblazer will provide our guests with the opportunity to make a financial contribution to our work.
2) Visit to a Partner Village: This is a three-four hour visit to “the field,” where guests will see one or more of the following: [a] staff installing a well or water filter in one of TF’s partner villages; [b] a school and/or library Trailblazer has built; and/or [c] the Women’s Development Center, to see their economic development training facility and gift shop.
There is a maximum of ten visitors for this experience, who – along with the driver/translator and a Trailblazer representative – will fill a 12-person van. If Trailblazer needs to provide transportation and/or lunch, then the above-mentioned fees apply. At the end of the tour, Trailblazer will provide our guests with the opportunity to make a financial contribution to our work.
3) Visit to TF’s Office/Worksite, and a Partner Village: This is a three-to-four hour experience that combines options #1 and #2, by providing a visit to the office/worksite, and a field visit to one of TF’s partner villages (including possibly a school and/or the Women’s Development Center).
This tour can have a maximum of ten visitors, who – along with the driver/translator and a Trailblazer representative – will fill a 12-person van. If Trailblazer needs to provide transportation and/or lunch, then the above-mentioned fees apply. At the end of the tour, Trailblazer will provide our guests with the opportunity to make a financial contribution.
4) Water Filter Donation and Installation Tour: This three-to-four hour tour is contingent on one-to-three guests (individuals, couples, or families) deciding to donate a water filter to a rural Cambodian family. On the day of the tour, the group would follow our water filter team, as the team delivers and installs up to three new filters. With enough planning, the guests will see “their” filters (with their names stenciled on it) being installed. In this process, the guest(s) would meet and visit with the family who received the water filter the guest(s) donated. If the visit is scheduled without enough planning time for Trailblazer’s staff, the guests will still see the water filter delivery process, and they will still meet a Cambodian family. Shortly thereafter, Trailblazer will send each guest a photo of the recipient family standing by the water filter the guest contributed (with the guest’s name on it). We limit these tours to three filters, because our field staff cannot deliver and install more than three filters in the tour’s allotted time. If time allows, this tour would also visit the Women’s Development Center, to see their economic development training facility and gift shop (where guests can buy weaved and sewn textiles made by the local women).
For this experience, each guest(s) would pay the $80 cost of a water filter (the price Trailblazer charges all donors). The tour can have a maximum of ten visitors, who – along with the driver/translator and a Trailblazer representative – will fill a 12-person van. If Trailblazer needs to provide transportation and/or lunch, then the above-mentioned fees apply. At the end of the tour, Trailblazer will provide our guests with the opportunity to make an additional contribution.
5) Educational Presentation About Trailblazer at a Guest Lodge or Other Location: Trailblazer also offers a one-to-two hour multi-media presentation about our work, with a concluding question and answer session. These presentations typically occur at the group’s lodge, in the late afternoon or evening. The presentation can coincide with the guests having already participated in one of the above-mentioned tours. Topics covered in the presentation include [a] some Cambodian history that sets the stage for why Trailblazer was originally founded, [b] Trailblazer’s origin, programs, and rural community development philosophies and strategies, as well as [c] a broader look at the purpose, best management practices, and emerging trends of international development.
There is no maximum number of participants for this program, and Trailblazer staff will come to the guest lodge or other predetermined location. At the end of the tour, Trailblazer will provide the audience with the opportunity to make a financial contribution (assuming they haven’t given during a tour earlier in the day).
6) Volunteers Helping Trailblazer with Work Site and/or Field Projects: For those who wish to invest more time and energy, Trailblazer enlists working volunteers for a minimum of five days, to support our efforts at our headquarters and work site, and in the field. Typically, our volunteers spend two-to-three days at the office/work site, and one, perhaps two, days in the field, with the final day as a clean up day at the office/work site. For those people wishing to spend two or more weeks volunteering with Trailblazer, the work may also include supporting our timely research, monitoring and evaluation, community outreach, and communications. Trailblazer is happy to provide more details about what type of work is involved in each activity, so volunteers can know what level of physical stamina and technical skills are needed (see this link to our website).
For those volunteering less than two weeks, Trailblazer asks a suggested fee of $10 per person per day. For those volunteering for two or more weeks, Trailblazer does not ask a donation.
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