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Great Baikal Trail Charity Profile
The Great Baikal Trail Association is an international, volunteer-driven, non-profit organization that works to develop, maintain, promote, and protect Russia' first network of hiking trails, and thereby advocate for the sustainable development of Lake Baikal. The Great Baikal Trail concept began with a simple yet daunting idea - to build a trail circumventing one of the oldest and most beautiful lakes on Earth, our earl of Siberia,?Lake Baikal. The trail would stretch over 2000 kilometers, connecting seven national parks and reserves and providing easy access to Baikal' breath-taking views and panoramas. While a single trail around the entire lake is still a far off dream, volunteers with the Great Baikal Trail Association have been working diligently for the past five years to create Russia? first system of trails that provide access to some of the most magical places in the Baikal Region. Eventually, these trails will be connected and the vision of a complete system of trails around Lake Baikal will become reality.
GBT is an international non-profit organization, with a mission to promote local sustainable development of Lake Baikal and surrounding areas through low-impact ecotourism. This mission is grounded in building a system of environmentally friendly trails that are safe and enjoyable for hikers of all ages and levels of experience. GBT is carrying out trail-building projects around Baikal in two-week summer camps composed of international volunteer crews. GBT projects concentrate on environmental education, restoration, social responsibility and leadership, improving the health and well-being of local people, preserving indigenous peoples, their cultures and traditions, and also promoting intercultural interaction.
In addition to building Russia'first system of trails that comply with international trail-building standards, GBT is creating an infrastructure that will support sustainable development in the entire Baikal region. By providing new economic incentives for local populations to preserve their environment, GBT is offering a viable alternative to industrial development, while raising the local standard of living (the Baikal region is an economically depressed area of Russia with a high rate of unemployment). GBT is trying to create new work places and promote local, environmentally-friendly business initiatives by ensuring a steady influx of ecologically-minded tourists. For example, GBT trail-building projects give local youth and adults the opportunity to work as trail-building crew leaders and interpreters, and support local villagers in their efforts to develop private bed and breakfast lodges.
Great Baikal Trail Volunteer Information
Volunteers are people who work for free in social and ecological programs around the world. Volunteers are not only pure altruists; working as a volunteer also allows you to gain experience, specific skills and knowledge, as well as expand your social network. In many organizations, people start their careers as volunteers. Often, a volunteer internship opens the door to the world of paid jobs, because offers the opportunity to demonstrate and improve your skills. Former volunteers sometimes even go on to establish their own organizations or implement their own projects based on the experiences and ideas they gained during internships. Furthermore, for non-profit and non-governmental organizations, volunteers constitute an important labor base, and make it possible for these organizations to achieve their social and ecological goals.
Our organization almost exclusively depends on the work of volunteers. We therefore offer many different volunteer opportunities. We highly appreciate the activities of our volunteers and are very grateful to all of them for their hard work and dedication.
Main Areas of Volunteer Activity within GBT include:
Working at the summer project camps (trail building and reconstruction, construction of small bridges, resting places and other necessary infrastructure, gathering of garbage, etc.);
Helping in the office (recruit new volunteers for the summer work camps, social networking, activities with the weekly GBT club, participating in social projects within Irkutsk, gathering information, translation, etc.)
Participating in educational programs (teaching in schools, elaborating upon and conducting GBT seminars, participating in exhibitions and conferences, etc.)
Participating in other projects (tree planting, gathering garbage, etc.)
Some international volunteer organizations are able to offer their volunteers free accommodation and food supply, sometimes even a financial contribution to cover their travel expenses. This is only possible when the organization can rely on financial support or grants from governmental institutions or private businesses. Unfortunately, non-profit and non-governmental organizations in Russia do not enjoy such favorable conditions. GBT does not receive grants or financial support to cover expenses for volunteers?accommodation, catering and administration. The grants GBT receives are dedicated to buying tools and equipment, and cannot be extended to support the summer work camps. Therefore, it is not possible for us to offer the work camps for free, unfortunately. The fees volunteers pay in order to participate in the GBT projects are solely used to cover the expenses and do not result in any profit for GBT.