Hereby an official announcement, with pain in my heart and at the same time a huge smile on my face: Smokey Tours has been divided by Smokey Tours by Bless the Children and Smokey Projects.
A piece of history: 15 years ago, when I arrived in the Philippines and started volunteering for BYSMP (Bless the Children Foundation) I was touched by all the work done by the staff helping the poorest of the poor. Throughout the years I stayed in touch with Bless the Children, doing projects together, organizing events, and anything that seemed interesting and useful.
At the same time, I wanted to help more people in the Philippines, and I wanted people to experience the people in the slums as I did. So, the gap between rich and poor would be not only visible but also experienced. My dream was that with every visit to the slums, and every personal encounter with someone who lives in other circumstances, a seed was planted in people’s lives, so they could see what was important and that we are all the same in the end.
Smokey Tours grew with the help of many: the JoHo Foundation, Reality Tours & Travel, Sining Kamalig, and all kinds of interns, volunteers, and staff. The idea was to stay small and personal. I would never have imagined that I would teach Sustainable tourism at the Asian Institute of Management, be a keynote speaker for Filipino tourism students all over the country and to be awarded with a social entrepreneurship price. I have made many mistakes, but always did what felt the best. It was all about talent development, for our team, for the guests and for the people in the communities in the slums. I have been giving all I had literally and figuratively. It was not always easy and at the same time a lot of fun.
Now it is time to have faith in others. Bless the Children Foundation, I know you can do it, and many people will develop their talents during this adventure. I will always be there and giving a piece of me, with Smokey Projects. The Philippines will always be a part of me. The circle is complete. Bahala na.
* Photo by David van Dam
A new 'circle' starts... Koert contributed on 01-03-2023 14:21
You should be super proud of what you've accomplished, Juliette, in those 15 years. With a focus on supporting and running a sustainable business, with attention and respect for everyone's culture, with beautiful links between tourism and voluntary work and with a lot of attention for talent development of many people involved and of yourself. This is precisely why Smokey Tours became sustainable and award winning. And the beauty of that sustainability is that at some point...you can and must let go.
Here's to many great projects in the future, Juliette!
And all the best for Bless the Children Foundation to continue offering Smokey Tours experiences.
Enjoying accomplishments... juliettekwee contributed on 09-03-2023 12:27
... thank you very much for reminding me to enjoy accomplishments, and to stop and stand still and realize and simply enjoy.
To many great projects, cheers. Thank you that working together with you is inspiring!
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