CHUKKA has always been close to the communities in which it operates. John grew up playing at an oceanfront property at Sandy Bay, west of Montego Bay. Up the hill from Sandy Bay, in the seven-year riverside floodplain, lies Pumpkin Bottom, a rural community where John made many friends as a child, riding horses in the hills, swimming in the saltwater, and fishing with makeshift poles.
At one time, the main road traveled a circuitous oceanfront route, and farmers routinely cut across the Sandy Bay property. John and his childhood friends imposed small “taxes” on the shortcut, collecting yams and cassava from the kind farmers passing through. John exchanged some of the yams for fish and other fixings, and the children repurposed a huge kerosene can as a pot for a stew. Everyone contributed what they had, and everyone ate out of the same pot.
That same sense of community permeates CHUKKA today. When the river breached its banks in 2012, as it does every seven years, Pumpkin Bottom was destroyed and its community suffered terrible losses. CHUKKA donated food and shelter and helped the community rebuild its homes.
Even in the absence of disaster, CHUKKA routinely invests in the local communities. CHUKKA runs an adult literacy program in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, providing education for CHUKKA’s guides and other employees as well as members of the community. In Kenilworth, CHUKKA runs a children’s literacy and homework help program for the children of Pumpkin Bottom. At different times throughout the year, CHUKKA supports its communities in myriad creative ways. In September of each year, CHUKKA supports children as they return to school by providing books and schoolbags for children in each community in which CHUKKA operates. During the winter holidays, CHUKKA visits the communities where it operates and throws holiday parties for the children, complete with cake, ice cream, and small gifts such as soccer balls.
CHUKKA’s commitment to its community is reflected in its offerings to our guests as well. Because CHUKKA tours are designed to give its guests a taste of the real Caribbean, 30% of tour guides are hired from the immediately surrounding areas. Also, ATV, dune buggy, and 4×4 tours explore not only the lush rainforest and stunning trails but also the beloved communities in the area.