The Tribewanted adventure started in 2006 on a small island in Fiji called Vorovoro and on an online community on the internet. Soon after, their success was felt not only on a local level for the members of the Fijian islands community but also on a global level by more than 10,000 on-line tribe members worldwide.
The project got a contract with BBC2 to film a five part series called ‘Paradise or Bust’ about the development of the community on the island, Ben Keene (the co-founder of Tribewanted) released a book about the experience of setting up such an ambitious project, and the Tribewanted.com team won a prestigious award for being ‘the best-social networking website’ beating the likes of Myspace, not to mention the glowing reviews from national and international media.
However, the most important part of this project was the benefits felt by the local community on Vorovoro through community development projects and sustainable living projects, the cultural-exchange opportunities experienced by the on-line and on-island tribe members and the unique adventurous experience bringing like-minded people together for an unforgettable journey.
Three and half years after the start of Tribewanted, a new project has been developed, and this time it will be located on the West Coast of Africa, in Sierra Leone!
In October 2010, a new group of visitors will arrive on Sierra Leone’s John Obey Beach, 20 miles south of the capital, Freetown, and begin to build a new life alongside the local fishing community.
Tribewanted Sierra Leone has formed a partnership with the government, landowners and the local John Obey community in Sierra Leone to create an eco village community over the coming years to support sustainable development in the area.
For the visiting tribe members it will be a unique opportunity to experience a peaceful, beautiful and vibrant country seeking a new beginning a decade after being ravaged by civil war.
Ben, co-founder, said about the project: “Tribewanted on Vorovoro in Fiji has become a way of life for visiting members and the local community. People find it very hard to leave - they feel like they’ve come home. It’s been clear for a while we should try and take the model elsewhere.”
“Tribewanted Sierra Leone aims to do this and more. When you take part in the project you’re not sacrificing your hard earned time-out for an intense volunteer programme nor are you replacing a much-needed beach holiday. You can sunbath, build, swim, cook, canoe up river, trek, fish, play beach football, share skills, teach, drum round bonfires, and eat great seafood. You’re living alongside a local community whilst connecting with a global network of like-minded people.”
Tribewanted Sierra Leone is a local organisation and its non profit partner, Shine On Sierra Leone - www.shineonsierraleone.org, has been working in the region successfully for five years, sponsoring 6 schools and computer centres around the country as well as providing microfinance to over 5,700 women across the country.
Filippo Bozotti, producer of VH1 documentary Bling, which took several hip hop stars to Sierra Leone to show them the reality of the diamond trade, has teamed up with Ben Keene, founder of Tribewanted to start this new project.
Their third partner, Sierra Leonean Michel Sho-Sawyer, confirms that all profits generated from Tribewanted Sierra Leone will be re-invested in the local John Obey community, in education and microfinance through Shine On Sierra Leone.
Tribe members will have the opportunity of joining in with the development of the new village alongside the local team and community. The project will be pioneering a new building technique called ‘Superadobe” developed at Cal Earth, www.calearth.org, a technique that uses only local earth and material.
West Africa Discovery (www.westafricadiscovery.co.uk) has been in talks with Tribewanted co-founder Ben Keene about the development and marketing of the project, and will act as an information portal for tribe members looking to find out what other sustainable and responsible tourism projects are available in surrounding countries.
The West Africa Discovery web portal is a reference point with expert knowledge of the west African region and is in the process of creating an extensive database of tourism projects which concentrate on offering unique experiences to the traveller whilst benefiting the local communities in the destinations they visit.
Thomas Armitt, founder of West Africa Discovery, comments: “We are excited to be part of such a great project. We really feel that tourism can be a tool to develop local communities in a sustainable way, raise awareness towards the rich local cultures in the destination, and change the image of a country which is generally known for the wrong reasons. Tribewanted Sierra Leone aims to do just that, and I think that it will have a positive impact on all those involved. ”
To learn more about the Tribewanted project, click here.
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