Community Projects

Community Projects

Community impact is at the core of what we do and who we are.

In 2019, Rustic Pathways students completed a total of 118,165 community service hours across 210 unique projects.

Sustainable Travel

We are committed to decreasing our environmental footprint, stimulating local economies, supporting community initiatives, and teaching our students responsible travel practices. We travel to locations where tourists rarely go, buy goods from locally-owned businesses, and respect local cultures and customs. Our programs provide direct support for education, infrastructure development, conservation, and other community projects.

Community Service

Our community projects focus on the following types of service initiatives:

Community Health and Social Services: Health underpins all aspects of daily life. Good health is critical to people’s ability to contribute to the wellbeing of their family and community.

Economic Development: Developing economic opportunities is essential to enable people to pull themselves out of poverty and meet basic needs.

Education: Safe and engaging learning environments, along with access to education, are essential for student learning.

Environmental and Animal Welfare: The environment plays an important role in the livelihoods of many communities and must be sustainably managed for current and future generations.

Infrastructure: Basic infrastructure is essential to healthy, productive and sustainable communities.

Community Health and Social Services

Health Education

Community Health Screening | Thailand

Since 2012, Rustic Pathways has been running Community Health service projects through partnerships with four medical clinics near our Rice Fields Service Base in northeastern Thailand. These initiatives support rural clinics that serve primary care facilities and regional outreach posts for the government to provide care to rural citizens. Rustic students, who get certified in Wilderness First Aid during their program, help set up temporary medical clinics in rural areas and assist medical professionals with health screenings.

Health Screening in Thailand


Women’s Shelter Meal Programs | Australia and Fiji

As part of our efforts to support local community initiatives, Rustic Pathways has partnered with women’s shelters in Australia and Fiji to assist with providing meals for women and children living in crisis accommodations. These shelters often provide short- and long-term accommodation for women and their children who do not have a safe place to live or who are suffering from domestic violence in their home.

Women’s Shelter Meal Programs in Fiji

Economic Development

Income Generation

Chicken Coop and Piggery Projects | Fiji

Many families in the western coast region struggle to make ends meet relying on seasonal sugar cane harvests that provide income for just six months a year. Rustic Pathways supports small- scale income-generating chicken coops and piggeries for individual families. The Ministry of Agriculture provides training on how to raise chickens and pigs, and Rustic students support construction of the chicken coops and pens. These efforts have led to 17 families building chicken coops since 2013 and five creating piggeries since 2016.

Chicken Coop Building in Fiji

Women’s Workshops | Fiji

In many regions across Fiji, women sacrifice their opportunity to earn a living to support children and care for elderly families members. In 2017, Rustic Pathways began a women’s income generation project, which focuses on empowering women through skill-based workshops. This initial project involved three workshops delivered to 47 women across three villages. They focused on making purses from leftover snack wrappers—simultaneously tackling waste management and recycling along the way. Last year, we supported four cardboard jewelry making workshops with 76 participants.

Women’s Workshops in Fiji

I felt so inspired by the locals around me and saw a side to Fiji where I had an idea of the culture and environment, but didn’t fully understand it. I was touched by the warmth of the people and I gained so much confidence in my capabilities, making me want to work harder for each service opportunity.

Quote by: Thao Nguyen - La Quinta, California Sun, Sand, and International Service in Fiji


School Facility Improvements

Sustainable School Projects | Thailand

The Rice Fields Service Base has partnered with a local Thai School since 2018 on several educational projects and initiatives. Through this partnership, we have helped  create sustainable projects that will impact the students of the school, their families, and surrounding community. Rustic has provided basic English classes, as well as built a fish farm, organic garden, and compost pit. Caring for the fish ponds, garden, and compost pit have been integrated into the curriculum at the school, teaching the students skills in agriculture, and promoting healthy eating habits.

Community Service in Thailand

Local School Improvements | Mongolia

Rustic Pathways is partnered with a local Mongolian village that has one secondary public school, teaching students from 1st grade through middle school. Most of the students are from herder families and they stay at the school dormitory. In this partnership, we have helped improve the school facilities on the inside and on the outside. The school requested the porch so that their students will have a surface that is not dirt, so that they will have space to draw chalk games and more activities. In 2019, students assisted in building a cement porch right outside the entrance door of the school.

Local School Improvements | Mongolia

Youth Empowerment

Sacred Valley Project | Peru

The Sacred Valley Project runs boarding homes for girls from rural Andean communities who would otherwise not have access to a high school education. The project provides food, housing, school supplies, academic support and supplementary education. Access to education for students from indigenous rural communities disproportionately affects girls. The Sacred Valley Project believes in the power of educated girls and together with the Rustic Pathways Foundation is working to help educate the young women of the Sacred Valley of Peru. The Foundation supports the Sacred Valley Project by raising funds through inspired students and donors.

Education service with students

Youth Education

English Lessons | Mongolia

Every year in rural Western Mongolia, the village children look forward to hosting Rustic Pathways students. It’s an opportunity for them to share their culture, artistic and musical talents with their international friends. But also, it is their only chance to hear and practice English in a live conversation. English is official 2nd Language of Mongolia and although it is one of the mandatory subjects starting from the 5th grade, students struggle to learn the language. One of the major factors is the lack of fluent speakers around students to hear from and to practice with. Rustic Pathways Mongolia is committed to helping these kids learn and practice English through incorporating time for our students to prepare English lessons at 3 different levels to teach them.

Teaching English | Mongolia

Environment and Animal Welfare

Wildlife Conservation and Animal Welfare

Wildlife Rescue Rehabilitation | Australia

Australia is home to incredible biodiversity, but also high rates of mammal extinction. Rustic Pathways has been working in Australia for 35 years and has always been involved in the support of native wildlife and environmental conservation. We are proud to partner with local organizations that protect and rehabilitate Australian wildlife. At any time, the organization provides care for up to 150 animals, including kangaroos, echidnas, owls, and snakes. The organization also works to educate the local community about the needs of wildlife and the importance of protecting these species.

Learn about Australia's native animals, conservation efforts, and environmental habitats.

Environmental Conservation and Restoration

Marine Life and Coastal Restoration | Dominican Republic

Since 2013, Rustic Pathways has partnered since 2013 with an internationally-recognized NGO dedicated to improving the overall health and sustainability of the marine environment in the Dominican Republic. Rustic Pathways students work directly with the team during Marine Life and Coastal Restoration program to support their work to restore the coral reef ecosystem. Students assist with coastal cleanups, marine species identification and data collection, construction of buoys and structures for coral reproduction, and local education. The restoration team works with a variety of organizations, the Dominican government, and the local community to help our oceans to thrive.

Costal Rehabilitation Project

Environmental Conservation Program | Tanzania

Tanzania is known for its exotic wildlife and a wide range of biodiversity. We partner with two highly reputable conservation NGOs where students learn about wildlife and marine conservation. Through this partnership, we explore the impacts of climate change on wildlife and students work hand in hand with local students in planting trees, collecting data of biodiversity in the forest, interacting and learning from local students on different environmental conservation practices and efforts. Rustic Pathways students also work directly with our partners in marine life and coastal restoration programs to support their work to restore the coral reef ecosystem along the Indian Ocean. Students assist with construction of coral reef balls for marine life reproduction, and collection of data.

high school students taking a break from service with local community members in Tanzania

My time in the Dominican Republic really showed me that we need to be just as curious about our oceans, and our impact, just as we care so much about other matters, like education, or the economy.

Quote by: Sarah Altieri - Pacific Palisades, California Marine Life and Coastal Restoration



Community Housing Project | Dominican Republic

Rustic Pathways has been building homes in the Dominican Republic since 2014 in partnership with a local Housing Association, and completed work on its 13th home in 2018. Batey communities of sugarcane workers and their families have some of the lowest standards of living in the country, further intensified by institutionalized racism towards individuals of Haitian descent. Residents of bateyes often lack access to some of the most essential resources, such as education, running water, electricity, or even basic housing. These new homes provide safe and secure housing for 50 people.

Building homes in the Dominican Republic

Family Home Insulation | Mongolia

Winters in Mongolia can be long and tough, and proper insulation for homes during this time is extremely important. Rustic Pathways received a specific request from a local community, relatives and the village administration who were concerned about the condition of the home of a local mother and her 10 children. With a local NGO, Rustic Pathways students helped construct the floor and insulate the walls and ceiling to build a home that will accommodate this family for many years to come.

Family Home Insulation | Mongolia

Community Facilities

Community Service Works | Mongolia

Since 2013, Rustic Pathways has been collaborating with a local Mongolian NGO in order to help and support the communities we travel to within Mongolia. Our Off the Map Mongolia program students have worked on projects building and insulating homes, renovating and improving the public school, working on summer gardens and greenhouses for school dormitories, and helping local students learn and practice English. The NGO works closely with public schools, kindergartens, village communities and government administrations in order to help and support the pending needs of the local people.

Kindergarten and Women’s Center | Morocco

Rustic Pathways has partnered with a local association in Morocco since 2016 to support construction of a kindergarten room and expansion of the women’s center at its community facility. The center serves as an important meeting point for the community, specifically for women. To date, two rooms have been completed. One serves as a kindergarten for students ages 3 to 5, and the other hosts English classes and vocational training for women in the community. This is an exciting development for the community as education and income generating activities have been prioritized by local community associations.

Service project in Morocco

Village Service | Tanzania  

Rustic pathways has partnered with the District Government and different village councils in Tanzania since 2008. The primary goal is to ensure that the priorities of the village governments with regards to the basic facilities is being met. Rustic undertook different projects building classrooms, separate gender toilets and also built a large dinning hall which will also be used as a community hall. Students have also  helped build doctors’ and teachers’ homes. The community works hand in hand with students from mixing cement together to fundraising for a roof for the school dining hall. Rustic students help with English lessons in schools by participating with local students in different games and activities.

Winter Storage Cabins | Mongolia

In the West of Mongolia, using mud brick or blocks for building fences, small storage cabins or even for homes is common. Although the winter of Mongolia is cold enough for freezing your food items if you put them outside, people still need a storage cabin to protect their food from eagles, vultures, dogs, cats or other animals. Rustic Pathways helps support families in building winter freezer/storage cabins by making the mud blocks. Our students team up 2 by 2 to learn  how to construct quality mud blocks for this project.

Winter Storage Cabin| Mongolia

Rebuilding Efforts

Home Rebuilding | New Orleans

Since 2013, Rustic Pathways has been assisting with the ongoing rebuilding efforts in New Orleans. Damages from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 can still be seen throughout the city. The mission is to bring the 3,000 families back home after being displaced by the ravages of Katrina. Our partner has directly rebuilt homes for more than 2,140 families with the help of more than 130,000 volunteers in New Orleans, many of them Rustic Pathways students.rebuilding houses in New Orleans

This program changed my outlook on life—I appreciate my life so much more. The Dominican Republic showed me that the world is so much more than just the small town in Michigan that I live in.

Quote by: Jamey Carpenter | Stevensville, Michigan Mountain Air and Village Service