Tribewanted: Sierra Leone

06/29/2010 10:37 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

It is now a known fact that Microfinance and partnerships with developing nations are more successful than charity. At the end of 2006, MicroBanking Bulletin was tracking 704 MFIs that were serving 52 million borrowers ($23.3 billion in outstanding loans) and 56 million savers ($15.4 billion in deposits).

What exactly is going to happen to the age-old model of charity? There are many theories and insights. I would like to highlight the path that Shine On is valiantly taking: Voluntourism.

One of the most beautiful elements of the work that I do is having the opportunity to time travel. With just an 18-hour flight to Sierra Leone, I am able to experience life of a different time. Untouched traditions, mores and a simple lifestyle. It's remarkable, intoxicating and addictive. It is the one thing that no matter how hard I try, I cannot share with a donor, here in America. I can, however, share hard-hitting statistics and heart wrenching stories that make even the most detached human being take notice. The earthy scent of the air, the kindness of strangers, their song, the food and the strong familial ties ... is not as easy to share.

Many have asked if they could accompany me on a trip to Sierra Leone. Shine On Sierra Leone (SOSL) has taken seven high school students from Los Angeles that raised funds to built a schoolhouse, actor Regina King, model Selita Ebanks, directors, photographers and several other beautiful individuals who, as a result, will never be quite the same.

If you combine the love of bringing others to Sierra Leone, with the strong desire to create an eco-village using the wisdom of the elders combined with new world ecological technologies such as wind and solar power, you get: Tribewanted: Sierra Leone. An innovative concept and brainchild of Englishman, Ben Keene. Tribewanted takes tourism back to its original, untouched form. Tribewanted, launched four years ago on the completely undeveloped Fijian island, called Vorovoro. The goal was to create a cultural area where both the Fijian people and the foreigners could live together, allowing foreigners to immerse themselves into the daily FIjin lifestyle while enjoying its magical landscape.

Together, the tourists and natives built an eco-tourism village, using the traditional building methods while bringing in ecological systems such as solar and wind power to generate the minimum amount of electricity needed. The more tourists that come, the more the village grows! Since its inception, 5,000 people from 35 countries have visited Tribewanted: Fiji and over $1,000,000 has been invested into the community! It is a place for a holiday as well, as a tourist is not required to do anything. It is the intention of Tribewanted to preserve the native culture by being a part of it.

I am honored that Tribewanted is partnering with Shine On Sierra Leone to create the Tribewanted: Sierra Leone! Tribewanted will take place on 15 acres of John Obey beach; a pristine, virgin land on the coast of Sierra Leone. It is arguably one of the worlds most beautiful beaches.

Visitors will be able to experience the simplicity and organic life of native Sierra Leone -- beautiful people, food, colors, wildlife, and nature -- without war or poverty.
We have partnered with Cal-Earth to work with villagers and design an eco-village complete with permaculture agriculture, compost toilets, and aquaculture. Fresh fruits and vegetables...dancing, singing, building, and creating. Building the village of our dreams.

This is an official invitation for you to join me in Sierra Leone. First members will arrive in October, 2010. I am bringing many friends, I hope to see you there.

Visit to book or contact

Tiffany Persons
Shine On Sierra Leone
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