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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.

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

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

Infrastructure

Housing

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

Community Facilities

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.

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