Doing good. Helping others. Giving back. All things that have been on my mind a great deal lately here in Nepal. Over the past two months I’ve visited with children who have been denied an education simply because they are from lower caste parentage. I’ve met families living in dire poverty, sleeping five to a bed in a mud-walled shack on the shores of a filthy, trash-choked stream. And I have spoken extensively with Tibetan refugees who are unemployable because China demands that Nepal not give them citizenship; literally people without a country, they live in limbo, awaiting their chance to emigrate to other countries where they become productive citizens. These appalling experiences drive home how lucky I am to have been born in the USA, where a good education is commonplace and a world of opportunity is available to those willing to work hard. Having received so much in my life, I am now driven by a need to give back, but I have long struggled to find the best way to do so.
Though there are myriad choices for charities and non-profit organizations with which I might have associated, it was hard to know which were the most effective. Especially with larger organizations, I worried that an inordinate portion of donations were used for administrative costs rather than benefiting the people who really needed it. Fortunately, this concern was resolved for me when some of my fellow travel bloggers, who have all seen more than their equitable share of poverty and suffering around the world, launched a non-profit initiative named Passports with Purpose three years ago. In its first year, PwP raised money online for Heifer International, an organization that donates cows to poor rural families around the world. Last year they raised $30,000 to build a school in rural Cambodia; the school opened early last month and now there are a few hundred kids learning to read and write who would not otherwise have received an education.
Based on these previous successes, this year PwP is supporting Friends of LAFTI, an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of the Dalit (untouchable) population in India. Their goal is to raise $50,000 to build a village, providing homes for those that never hoped to have a roof over their heads. The campaign will run through December 13, 2010, and I hope you will help Passports with Purpose reach its goal.
Am I asking for a donation? Well, yes. But there’s a twist. Travel bloggers around the world have solicited prizes and gift certificates from travel gear companies, hotels, resorts, airlines, and electronic manufacturers, all of which are being offered as prizes in this year’s effort. The impressive list includes items like a Zeppelin flight in California (value $750), a three-night, ocean view stay at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel on the Big Island of Hawaii (value $2200), and a Norwegian Coastal Cruise Voyage (value $2074). Donors choose which prize or prizes they want to have a chance to win by placing a number in the box aside their preferred prize. So for example if you want to register to win the $350 Delta Airlines flight voucher, putting “1” in the box will buy you one chance and cost you $10. Putting “5” in the box will buy you five chances and cost you $50. You can also type “1” in five different boxes for one chance each to win five different prizes. Your total donation is tallied at the bottom of the prize list, giving you an opportunity to make modifications before proceeding to the payment page. At the end of the campaign, one winner will be randomly drawn for each prize from the total number of entries for that particular prize. The prizes add a little fun to the process, but even if your name isn’t drawn you can be sure that all donations are benefiting an excellent cause.
Passports with Purpose 2010 is only four days old and already they have raised $30,000 toward their $50,000 goal, much of which is thanks to a wonderful group of sponsors from across the travel industry: BootsnAll, LiveMocha, Round the World with Us, HomeAway, Traveller’s Point, Hostelling International, Quintess, Raveable, TravelPost, and Uptake. A big thanks to those generous folks. Now, let’s see if we can also be as generous:
Photos courtesy of Passports with Purpose
This article is part of the bi-monthly carnival at Heading There travel blog. Many thanks to Wandering Justin for stepping to manage the carnival while Tom is out of town. This week’s featured subject is “Doing good while you travel.”