Flockeo: Could you introduce yourself and your company?
I am Brigitte, CEO and co-founder of the fair and solidarity-based association called Au Coeur Des Peuples.
Our association’s goal is to help isolated rural populations in developing countries, by organizing sustainable trips in areas which are never or rarely enjoying economic benefits linked to tourism.
The trips that we offer are organized only with local partners such as guides, associations or family-owned incoming agencies and allow an improvement of living standards for people welcoming travellers in their villages and most of the times in their homes.
Beyond that, we help financing communitarian development projects. We collect 6% of the price of each ones of our trips to fund local associations’ projects.
Flockeo: How does the Covid-19 impact your daily life? What about your team? How do you handle the situation?
Our small team is mainly composed by volunteers. I like to call us the travels’ craftspeople. I am the only one working full time for the association, and I am working from home. So, let’s say that the lockdown isn’t a big issue for me as I am used to spend many hours inside my house.
About the association’s activity, it is completely stopped as well as most companies of the tourism sector in France or around the world. We are lucky not having to pay employees and having a low amount of charges. This way, we are not under a lot of pressure.
Our mindset is not to make a lot of money, but rather to keep existing to help populations in need and raise the traveller’s awareness about how beneficial this kind of tourism can be through the experiences they’ll live during their trip with us. Beneficial for locals who enjoy complementary wages, and beneficial for travellers because they learn forgotten values when travelling this way.
Of course, we had to cancel the trips booked for Spring holidays… But as we are not in mass tourism, it is lighter to deal with customers’ files.
Today, I am enjoying this break to update all files that I didn’t take care of before because of lack of time. It helps me stay positive towards this crisis, and I prefer telling myself that this upgrading will allow the association to have an optimum re-start.
Flockeo: Have you witnessed acts of solidarity around you?
Living in the countryside, a little bit more cut off from the world since the beginning of the lockdown, I did not directly witness acts of solidarity. I see what’s happening on social media and I am happy noticing that many people rally to provide help. I tried to make myself useful by taking part in a solidarity action close to my place but could not find any.
On my side, I regularly take news from my local partners to know how the situation is in their country, and I give them some advice on how to take care of themselves and their family and remind them how serious this situation is.
In developing countries, the health system is very different than ours here in France, and it would be a disaster if the virus would propagate widely in these countries because it is very often not easy to stay in a locked place there.
Flockeo: Do you think that the current situation will have a long-term impact on people’s mindset and ways of acting? If so, how?
During the current crisis, a lot of people become aware that our lifestyles have their limits. However, this awakening started before the epidemic period. People eat more and more organic, seasonal and local food, and they slowly abandon this overconsumption society.
It is the same for tourism. More and more people are looking for different ways of travelling, on a more soft, smart and respectful way. They want to re-connect with simple values and want to show to their children “the real life” as they say… disconnected from TV, video games and mobile phones.
According to all this, and helped by the fact that the crisis will allow every person to reconnect with themselves, mindsets will certainly change. At least I hope so.
Flockeo: Do you have a message to share with the community?
Slow down, meet up with yourself again, look around you, listen, feel, live in the moment. Be united, generous and caring ones with the others.