Monday, August 11, 2014

Ngapali: From Fishing village to Fruitful Community

Ngapali: From Fishing village to Fruitful Community 

Ngapali Beach and the surrounding villages have emerged from years of educational and heathcare darkness. The area now offers a fully facilitated medical clinic, dispensaries in nearby villages and a free library offering educational classes. Thoughtful development and assistance from non-profit organizations is fulfilling basic health and educations needs for residents of these once sleepy fishing villages. 

Ngapali, quiet white sand beach

Ngapali, a quiet three-kilometer white sand beach situated on the west coast of Myanmar, has been isolated due to tourism boycott directed at the military government. As the country embraces democracy, the once isolated paradise is flourishing. Hotels, owned by larger corporations or influential business leaders, are creating jobs while locally-owned restaurants and shops are creating entrepreneurs for families. But tourism can also have negative impacts such as beach erosion due to hotels using sand for foundation work. There is also the possibility that petty crime will increase such as occurred in Bagan.

While the increase in travelers have had positive and negative impacts on the community responsible tourism is has been wholeheartedly beneficial by filling vacancies in healthcare and education which can offset unchecked development. Previously, lack of government management created voids in these two key social sectors. Residents had to rely on the General Hospital of Thandwe which lacked adequate facilities to cope with the growing population, resulting in lives lost. This lack of medical care and basic education was more evident the in communities further from Thandwe where fisherman were exploited, occasionally being sold into slavery leaving their families without a primary income. 

Maung Shwe Lay, remote typical fishing village
Maung Shwe Lay village, a typical Rakhine fishing village, is an example of responsible tourism actually being responsible. Due to its remote location, it was rarely visited by tourists due to poor roads. Now a tourist-supported library provides free books, journals and other education material to the residents. Funded by the ExoFoundation, the nonprofit arm of Exotissimo Travel, Maung Shwe Lay Library has become a learning beckon in the village. Local youths are being trained by British Council librarians from Yangon. After completing the intensive course they are employed as paid librarians. Real results are being seen as villagers gain marketable job skills which have translated into employment. A minimum of 70 books are checked-out daily. 

Library by Exo Foundation, Maung Shwe Lay


Hundred of Knowledges

Future leaders
 

Clinic at Sandoway Resort
Another responsible tourism organization, AMFA from France, has partnered with Sandoway Resort in operating a free medical clinic. They have also established low-cost pharmaceutical dispensaries in nearby villages. Also educational projects, such as free English classes and vocational training, are being provided. A few local students were recently sent to England on a study tour. While more resources are needed to fully support the extended Ngaplai community, the current projects have set the foundation for continued development. 

 Providing basic needs has allowed people to find better paying jobs which often mean more money returning to the community. This snow-ball effect will continue as long as people and organizations adhere to responsible practices in tourism. 





Naing Ayar @ Ayar
Product Assistant, Exotissimo Travel Myanmar
11. August. 2014

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