Weʼre raising £12,500 to Support Sri Lankan Chauffeur-Guides after the Easter Sunday Bombings
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“I want to do something to show some solidarity with a country who welcomed us so genuinely and who did not deserve this hammer blow. Sri Lanka has lived through so much tragedy in its recent past and this has not stopped them building a wonderful tourism industry, which is sadly now on hold.” - Sara, Experience Travel Group client
**15/05/2019: We have been overwhelmed by your fantastic response to this campaign. Our original target of £7,500 was a conservative estimate of the amount needed. Your support has given us confidence that we can raise enough to go much further and for much longer to all the chauffeur-guides who need it. As such, we have raised our target to £12,500. Thank you so much for your donations.**
The Easter Bombings in Sri Lanka came as a bolt from the blue. In the 10 years since the end of the civil war, Sri Lanka had got used to living in peace. These attacks cruelly shattered that peace, and with it so many lives.
Since the tragedy, we at Experience Travel Group have been touched to receive countless heartfelt messages from clients like Sara. Many people asked if we could suggest a local charity to donate to in this difficult time. Others were quick to recognise the impact that a tragedy like this will have on guides’ livelihoods and asked if there was a way to support them.
Our team, here and in Sri Lanka, put our heads together and we have come up with a way to do both – and this is where we need your help.
We are asking the ETG community to donate to a fund that will advance the chauffeur-guides money to pay for the monthly lease hire on their vehicles, without which they could lose their job. When tourism bounces back, the chauffeur-guides will repay this money to the Sri Lankan charity, Foundation of Goodness, out of the profits they will earn from future ETG bookings. Foundation of Goodness is a fantastic organisation that will provide long-term aid to the victims of the Easter Sunday bombings (such as scholarships for children in families who have lost their primary breadwinner).
We believe that this will be the most effective way to help our fantastic guides who need this short-term, as well as have an impact on families whose lives have been irrevocably changed.
If you would like some more context about the chauffeur-guide system and how your donation would be used, please see the Q&A below.
Your support is enormously appreciated in this difficult time.
How does the chauffeur-guide system in Sri Lanka work?
Most chauffeur-guides in Sri Lanka are freelance. During Sri Lanka’s peak seasons (November – April and July – September) most chauffeur-guides will do back-to-back tours to keep them afloat during the quieter months. A tragedy like the Easter Sunday bombings means that, in the short term at least, a huge number of people will cancel trips to Sri Lanka and freelance chauffeur-guides have effectively lost their jobs, right before a key working period.
We will be paying a fee to our chauffeur guides who had tours booked with us in May, June and July, if the tour itself has been cancelled, re-routed or postponed. We will ensure that our core team of guides and drivers paid a permanent retainer will continue to receive it throughout the summer. However, since our freelancers rely on income from multiple sources, this will not be enough.
You can find out more about how the system works via our blog.
How can we help?
Buying a car in Sri Lanka is so expensive that most chauffeur-guides will lease their car for a minimum of £250 per month, sometimes as high as £650. Without a regular income, many will struggle to keep up these payments. If they lose their car, they effectively lose their means of earning an income.
We propose to advance chauffeur-guides the money necessary to cover their lease payments until the FCO lift their advisory.
Why would you advance money to the guides rather than give it to them?
We want to ensure that this system is as fair as possible. Some guides will have savings to tide them over, others will own their own car. With a salary advance, those who need this money will have the agency to apply for it and manage their own finances.
Furthermore, lending money creates a partnership. Chauffeur-guides earn a good living and many guides we have spoken to would be uncomfortable accepting charity.
What happens when guides are able to pay the advance back?
Once chauffeur-guides are able to repay the loan, the money will be put back into a fantastic local charity called Foundation of Goodness.
Of course, there will be no interest on the loan and no fixed repayment date. The money will be repaid only once we have been able to give the guides future work with Experience Travel Group.
Why the Foundations of Goodness?
Having been involved in the aftermath of the Asian Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004 we saw first hand how a flood of immediate aid can paper over some cracks, but leave victims stranded as the aid and international interest moves onto the next disaster. Foundations of Goodness will focus on long-term schemes to get the communities affected back on their feet.
We have worked to fundraise for Foundations of Goodness before and have always been impressed with their strong community ties and the wonderful work they do. They also have a longstanding relationship with the UK and the MCC.
What will Foundation of Goodness do with the money?
Their focus will be on long term assistance to families of the victims so that they are looked after long after the media attention wanes. They are looking at programmes such as:
- Scholarships for children in which families have lost their primary breadwinner
- Long term support (financial and therapeutic) for families who have lost children
- PTSD support for survivors
They are currently “collecting information and building portfolios of such families and individuals in need and will be fine tuning our approach in the coming weeks, at which time we will provide you with a detailed plan and schedule of our work”. This is a necessary measure in determining which initiatives will genuinely be of most benefit to those affected by the tragedy.
Do you have any further questions?
If you have any questions or would like to talk about our campaign in a little bit more detail, please don't hesitate to get in touch. You can reach us on 0207 924 7133.
Thank you so much for your support.
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Jun 20, 2019
My best wishes to all in Sri Lanka and hope the tourism picks up soon.
Jun 16, 2019
Jun 10, 2019
Jun 9, 2019
our experience of Sri Lanka was amazing, we fell in love with the country and its people and would like to do our small part that we can in making a small donation to help...
Jun 8, 2019
Hope this little amount helps
Jun 8, 2019
Jun 5, 2019
We had a wonderful holiday in 2018 and were very grateful to ETG and particularly to the wonderful service we recieved from our guide Chandana as well as the kindness of the Sri Lankan people we met.
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About the fundraiser
Experience Travel Group
Experience Travel Group create boutique holidays to 12 destinations in Asia. Sri Lanka was the birthplace of our company in 2004 and remains close to our heart. This remarkable country has always shown resilience in the face of adversity. We pledge to do all that we can to help.