São Tomé and Príncipe - Giving something back

Giving something back

An assortment of fruit, São João, São Tomé and Príncipe by Kathleen Becker

Buy local goods and use local services wherever possible. Buying a piece of jackfruit or sugarcane, a sip of palm wine, or some wild strawberries helps the local economy and is a good way of starting a conversation. For travellers with a bit more time, voluntary work is an excellent way to engage with the country. Teaching English, for instance, would do enormous good in helping Santomeans earn some of the money that tourism is bringing in, by enabling them, for example, to work as guides on the plantations and get better-paid jobs generally, a better education and offer a way for them to engage more successfully with tourists.

(Photo: You can help the economy by buying local goods, such as fruit and vegetables from sellers in village markets © Kathleen Becker)

If you are resourceful, you might be able to set up a placement informally through a school or a plantation, funding yourself. Consider choosing Príncipe, which is still behind its larger sister island in development and should offer a very rewarding experience. More than 80 NGOs are represented here, most of them Portuguese; check which humanitarian organisations in your country might have ties with São Tomé and Príncipe. The South African HBD (‘Here Be Dragons’, the owner of Bom Bom Island resort, amongst others) ecotourism venture also runs a number of projects. On both islands, the churches can distribute unwanted clothes to those who need them most.

In Portugal, contact details for humanitarian and friendship associations for both islands can be found on www.imigrantes.no.sapo.pt/page2comunidades1.html

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