Inspire believes that 'Responsible Travel' is about action not just words. We provide training for every team member before you depart on cultural awareness and responsible travel - including water usage, dressing appropriately and tips on the local culture and language.
Key Cultural and Responsible Travel rules for all our trips:
- Ladies must not wear tank tops, low cut tops or low-slung trousers when working on project site – showing flesh is seen as disrespectful in most small rural African communities.
- No camouflage clothes
- No jewellery or flash watches. Don’t bring anything that is precious to you, or that will attract attention. You will be strolling round towns and villages and it’s never a good idea to draw attention to yourself by wearing your most expensive necklace, watch or bracelet.
- No offensive slogans on clothing.
- Don’t bring designer or expensive gear as it will get dirty and totally ruined! For project site, just wear old clothes as you will definitely be throwing them away by the end of the expedition. Trousers, shorts and a good few old t-shirts are just what you need. Please don’t bring tank tops or low rise trousers when you’re working on projects, as flashing the local community every time you bend over, or even showing your shoulders is seen as offensive. Baggy linen trousers are great, as are cool shirts and blouses, over a vest top. For evenings out jeans are fine – although bear in mind they are heavy to carry and take a long time to dry.
- Always be respectful and remember that in most of the communities where we work, older members of the community are always treated with utmost respect and we should follow this example.
- Never assume that 'our' way of doing things is the 'right' way - it is just different. Try and encourage a discussion if you find something hard to understand, but don't get defensive if it doesn't match your perspective.
- If you have any issues with local project partners ask to speak to your Inspire Leaders immediately.
- Be respectful of all project partners, local staff and local community members.
- Do not swear in front of children or local community.
- Do not blaspheme.
- Be careful not to show any big public displays of affection between members of the opposite sex. This can be very disrespectful in some local communities.
- Ask your Inspire Leader about local customs – e.g. African handshakes, Men holding hands, Women’s role in rural Africa, so you can understand more about the people you are working with.
- Always accept any food offered with a polite smile. If you cannot eat the food then dispose of it subtly or give it to another team member. Remember that the person offering the food to you will have given you the best of what they have.
- If you have food leftover at the end of the trip – do donate this to the local community. Ensure this is done through a chief, head teacher or senior member of the community
- Use water sparingly and responsibly – do not leave taps running, take short showers and use the bare minimum for washing up etc whilst still being hygienic. Do not waste water – it is a precious resource to local communities. On many project sites the women and children will have walked hours each day to collect water for the team so do respect this.
- Wherever possible use biodegradable products.
- Don’t drop litter (even if you see many local people doing it!). The communities don’t have government funded bin men – so any litter will stay where it is dropped.
- Litter should be disposed of in an appropriate manner.
- Recycling – many local communities will be happy to accept offers of empty plastic bottles, containers etc. It is always worth asking before you throw anything away – but be careful not to offend – the item may still be able to have a use.
- Giving gifts to the community is great. However, it is essential that you do NOT give individual donations to community members or children – including even small things such as pencils or sweets or buying local children a soft drink. This is unfair and can create tension and bad feelings within the local community to see someone singled out.
- All donations should be given as a team through the chief, local head teacher or senior member of the community or partner charity – who will then make sure it is given out fairly. Your Inspire Leaders will help arrange this, so just let them know if you have a donation or gift to give.
- You might get tired or fed up at times as the work can sometimes be hard. However, it is important to remember that your attitude can rub off on the local community as well as other team members. If you are tired or struggling with the work, then let your Inspire Leaders or Teachers know, as they could look at other ways you can be involved.
- Tolerance is essential when working with local communities. Cement/materials may not turn up on time every day, so try and relax and enjoy spending time with the local community and children.