People-focused Travel: Meet Anita!
Written by Dianne Sivulka, owner of Travel on Purpose™
When it comes to traveling on purpose, four foundational pillars can be found in every trip we plan. Our vacations are culturally immersive, support the local economy, are people-focused, and connect travelers to organizations doing good. Today, I'd like to introduce you to Anita, one of the many amazing people we recently spent time with in Guatemala.
Full of joy and a deep love for her community, I've had the privilege to meet Anita for the first time back in June of this year. We found her through an online forum, and the reviews for her cooking class were stellar. During that first visit, I had the opportunity to hear Anita's story and learn about why she does what she does. Then last month, I got to spend another day with Anita and introduce the women in our group tour to her.
Anita was born and raised in the tiny village of San Pedro La Laguna on the shores of Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. Like everyone in her community, she grew up with few material resources. Something as simple as a new pair of shoes or a bicycle was too extravagant for her family to acquire. But what Anita lacked in material goods, she made up for in ingenuity and drive. Even as a young girl, she found ways to turn over a small bunch of bananas into a business.
As a young adult, she learned the ins and outs of running her own business. Her guiding principles were excellence, pride in ownership, and looking for ways to elevate those in her community.
Today Anita abides by these same principles. She is the owner of a culinary experience where she invites visitors into her home and teaches them the traditional Mayan recipes handed down in her family.
But she hasn't stopped there. She also began a weaver's cooperative because she saw that women in her community were skilled but lacked opportunities. She started with just three weavers but today employs 25! They keep 75% of their profit and put 25% back into the cooperative to keep the business running smoothly.
And that's not all. We learned that Anita has now purchased several acres of land employing coffee farmers. What will Anita think of next?
Walking through the village of San Pedro la Laguna with Anita is a treat for any visitor. You see a tangible love demonstrated in the way she stops to talk to everyone along the way. When she buys vegetables, meat, and other ingredients for her meals, she pays the full asking price and tries to purchase from as many different vendors as possible. She explained that this is a small way to help those in her community who are struggling to get by. It is out of an abundance of gratitude that Anita does these things. She told us that she has been blessed, and she, in turn, wants to bless others.
She is loved in her community and for a good reason.
What an inspiration!
If you'd like to meet Anita, travel with us!
Information on group tours can be found on our 'Travel with Us' page.
Or let us put together a customized trip for you and your friends.
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