Khiri Reach, the charitable arm of Khiri Travel, has been active helping communities in Asia impacted by the Covid-19 crisis.Its focus has been on marginalized communities, many of them in long-standing relationships with Khiri Travel, such as local families, artisans or community based projects that were regularly visited by tours before lockdown.
In Sri Lanka, Khiri Reach donated grocery packages to 250 families in Grandpass Colombo. They worked with local people, all wearing masks and practicing social distancing, as best they could, while distributing packages to local families.
In Myanmar, Khiri staff and local volunteer groups have been busy setting up two social enterprises: KuMel Volunteer connection and Honeybee Arts & Crafts.
KuMel — the short form of “Ku Nyi Mel” in Burmese or “We will help” — aims to support local communities or organizations who need volunteers to help communities.
KuMel also keeps active people well informed about how to find volunteer jobs through its Facebook page and website.
Honeybee Arts & Crafts provides local artisans with the opportunity to sell their crafts and souvenirs online and worldwide. Many of the local communities depended on income from tourists. They are now heavily impacted by the travel shut down. All the products available on Honeybee are made from sustainable materials, such as bamboo, paper mâché, cotton (from longyi fabric), recycled plastic, or coconuts.
Khiri Travel Vietnam staff also donated funds to a CanCham project to purchase about 148kg of rice to help families in Binh Tan, Hooc Mon, Cu Chi, Tan Phu and Nha Be, suburbs around Saigon where many labourers have been made unemployed. Local communities developed the system of Rice-ATMs — automatic rice dispensers — which limit physical contact. People in need come with their own bags, which they can fill up with free rice.
Khiri Travel in Thailand is supporting the Covid Relief BKK Project set up by SOS Thailand (Scholars of Sustenance). Khiri is providing two vans for donating deliveries to communities, homeless shelters and health care centres. The COVID Relief BKK Projects have helped by distributing over 500 bags of dry goods so far.
When tourists travel again, Khiri Travel will offer visits to select NGO sites in Asia at cost, so that all profits go in full the projects. By doing so, Khiri Travel hopes to provide extra support to NGOs. These ‘not-for-profit’ travel experiences help community projects such as The Endangered Primate Rescue Centre in Cuc Phuong National Park in Vietnam, Free the Bears in Laos, the Saunders Weaving School and Burmese Star Tortoise Conservation Project in Myanmar, and the Gibbon Rehabilitation Centre in Phuket.
“The initial instinct of Khiri staff to Covid was to help vulnerable people in the margins of the tourism industry,” said Nia Klatte, the Executive Director of Khiri Reach, based in Saigon. “We are adding more helping activities every week. Every little bit counts in these difficult times.”