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. Continue reading