For Westerners, mention of Sierra Leone likely conjures images of blood diamonds, wealth disparity, and unrest. But on the coast of that West African nation, nearly a decade after the end of its civil war, you can see waves of change. Nowhere are they more apparent than on the shores of John Obey beach, where an intrepid organization called Tribewanted aims to build a unique community through a sustainable, engaged brand of tourism.
Founded by Ben Keene in 2006, Tribewanted got some international attention when its global community of travelers adopted the Fijian island of Vorovoro, on which they built a social and evironmentally-focused community from scratch; more than 1,000 travelers have helped bring $1 million of sustainable development to the island. In October of this year, they hope to replicate that success on the tranquil shores of John Obey beach, where you can stay for $450 per week for an all-inclusive experience. All profits will be reinvested to the community through the nonprofit Shine On Sierra Leone.
"In the beginning there will be, well, nothing," writes co-founder Filippo Bozotti, "aside from basic composting toilets and a fresh water well. Bring your own tent." That ruggedness is precisely the beauty of Tribewanted: With each passing week comes a little more sustainable development, with every visitor holding a stake in the community's success.
Some travelers will work with local fishermen to build homes out of Superadobe, a technique developed at Cal Tech that uses only local earth and materials; others will plant a permaculture garden and farm; others yet will "learn how to carve a canoe, weave a traditional blanket, set out at dusk with the fishermen to catch fresh lobster, or if they want, the can come teach at FAWE for an afternoon and leave a book behind for the school library, they can work in microfinance for a day with SMT, or just chill on the beach and drink poyo, local palm wine."