Human Connections is a nonprofit committed to breaking down cultural barriers in an age in which ultra-nationalism is on the rise. The organization operates in the Bahia de Banderas region of Mexico, connecting local microentrepreneurs and artisans with international visitors through day tours and student programs. Human Connections’s mission is to increase empathy across cultures and strengthen communities, and it implements a responsible tourism model that gives a primarily indigenous population agency over their own stories while engaging in a financially empowering partnership.
Human Connections brings tourist groups to experience local artisans’ work, purchasing their handicrafts and products while also paying the artisans for their time. The organization’s mission achieves the complementary interests of the local community and their visitors while also creating a space that fosters conversations, shifts perspectives, and builds understanding.
Currently, 71% of Human Connections partners identify as indigenous, from the Nahua, Zapotec, and Huichol communities. Of these local partners, 58% are women with an average monthly household income between $360 and $750 Canadian dollars. The majority (83%) have migrated to the region to sell their products to international visitors, making them particularly vulnerable to downturns in tourism, as they lack a local support system or diversified income sources.
CAF Canada’s project supports the Human Connections’ Rebuilding Stronger initiative, which harnesses local artisans’ talents and cultural resources to generate family-sustaining incomes, even without visitors present. CAF Canada’s project funding supports staff salaries, economic resilience workshops, market research and advertising, product development, marketing photography and videography, and transportation. With CAF Canada support, project opportunities will be made available to other low-income artisans who are similarly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This will serve to widen Human Connections’ network of partners in the region, foster local collaboration and innovation, and broaden this project’s social impact.
Beyond the discovery of new cultures, landscapes, and local products, international visitors develop valuable cultural competencies, adaptability skills, and a respect for diversity that have profound implications for the world. To learn more about this responsible tourism model, visit humanconnections.org.