One project we support, and consider one of the most trusted and sustainable, in the Dominican Republic is not run by a Dominican. In our commitment to transparency, we believe we should explain how Tim Hall, a Canadian, and the Tubagua Eco Plantation fits our criteria of locally owned and a sustainable part of community development.
The easiest way to see what is important to someone is also language used to govern non-profit boards, ‘time, talent, and treasure.’ If you want to see what people (and organizations) value most, look at where they spend their time, talent, and their money.
Over the four years I have personally been involved with Tubagua, I have witnessed efforts in a variety of areas to improve their local community. Tim invests in his staff, paying them well above local standards, creating savings accounts and plans, and working with them to provide training on how to become better guides, cooks, and hosts. He has aided as president of a local municipality group to develop Puerto Plata’s community based tourism clusters. Tubagua hosts groups of volunteers, creates customized educational trips in medical, economic development, and cultural studies programs, has worked to grow and educate local farmers on alternative cash crops (such as moringa), and is now discussing the benefits and potential project of providing land for a local community center.
The “Foreign Owned” label is not inherently wrong. Often, foreign owned refers to an individual or company owning and managing a business or property that does not live in the country. All inclusive resorts tend to ship in many of their products, and even book packages abroad with very minimal amounts of money cycling through the local economies where the trips are actually taking place. Locally owned does not necessarily mean to define someone’s ethnicity, but where they live, work, spend, and invest in a community.
I have no questions about the use of time, talent, and treasure by Tim and Tubagua. While there will always be some cultural barriers of foreigners working in community development, his 30 years as a community member living in Puerto Plata, and working to better the lives of everyone around him makes me proud to support their efforts.
“Mi bagua es Tubagua” hangs in the palm roof common area. The slogan truly represents the mentality of this local business working to sustainably improve the community in which they live.