As I travel in developing countries around the world, I am often confronted by the lack of basic necessities that we take for granted in the United States. With each visit to Nepal I am reminded how difficult life is for residents of rural villages who walk miles each day, carrying large steel jugs of water on their shoulders for the needs of the family and their livestock. Children often miss out on education because their human labor is more important to the family’s survival than hours spent in a school.
Being regularly exposed to these living conditions tends to deaden the shock while I’m on the road but each time I return to the U.S. and turn on a tap or bend over a drinking fountain for the first time and can safely drink the water, the reality socks me in the gut. That’s why I’m especially delighted that this year, Passports with Purpose, the annual fundraising effort supported by travel bloggers, will be raising $100,000 to build two wells in Haiti, where nearly half of the people don’t have a nearby source of clean water. PwP is working in tandem with Water.org, in my opinion one of the best charities in the world. Nicole Wickenhauser, a Senior Development Manager with the organization, explains the depth of the problem:
“Men, women and children living in Port-au-Prince gather their water each day by walking to a nearby water tank (filled sporadically by water trucks) and filling up a five-gallon-jug which they then carry back to their homes. This is typically the only water they have for the whole day, for all of their needs: drinking, bathing, cooking, laundry, cleaning, etc. Often, it’s contaminated. In the surrounding villages where Water.org works, the situation is no better. People walk miles or wait in long lines for unreliable water which is often not safe.”
Passports with Purpose is a unique effort, in that we don’t just ask you to make a monetary donation. Travel bloggers solicit sponsors to donate prizes that are then raffled off. Each $10 you donate buys one entry in the raffle for the prize you select. And the prizes are pretty darn fantastic, ranging from country tours to stays in luxury hotels, to top of the line travel gear. Check out this year’s catalog of prizes here. See more than one prize you’d like to bid on? No problem. You can donate any amount you like, in increments of $10, and spread your votes around. Voting starts today and runs through December 11th, and you can track our progress toward the goal on the widget in the sidebar of my blog, which will display how much we’ve collected so far. Best of all, EVERY CENT GOES TO WATER.ORG. The founders of Passports with Purpose organize this effort each year out of the goodness of their hearts and donate all their time.
Lest you think there’s little possibility of winning, let me share a little secret with you. Last year I donated $200 and chose two prizes, casting 10 votes ($100) for each. I won a nine-day tour of Costa Rica with GAdventures! The next time you turn on the tap and drink down a long,cool glass of crystal clean water, think about how lucky you are, and if you can spare $10 I encourage you to join me in supporting this year’s fundraiser with Passports with Purpose.