Imagine if you could spend a few days building a home for a homeless family in Romania, teaching English to orphans in Russia or serving food to starving people in Africa.
Can you imagine how that would feel?
It would probably feel as good as if you were cruising the Seine, holding up the leaning tower of Pisa or clanking jugs with your new best friends at Oktoberfest. And it is likely to make more of a difference to the locals.
Volunteer Travel is one of the fastest growing travel trends in the industry and offers travelers the opportunity to give back to the communities they visit by helping reverse poverty, feed the hungry and educate the poor.
This year’s Blog Action Day theme is “poverty,” a topic many frequent travelers would prefer to ignore and an issue that affects ONE HALF of the world’s population.
Did you know …
– An estimate one billion people can not read or sign their name?
– Nearly one out of every two children in the world live in poverty?
– Close to half of all of the people in developing countries are suffering right now due to health problems caused by water and sanitation deficits?
It kinda makes me sick to read this.
Last November, my new husband and I traveled to Belize and Guatemala for a week-long honeymoon. I had read about the poverty-stricken communities, the lack of cleanliness and the unbelievable shortage of healthy drinking water, but I had no idea.
Poverty in third world countries is truly something you have to see to believe. And it changes you.
We talked about the appalling conditions and we felt guilty for being on vacation while so many people were suffering. We wanted to do something. But what?
In all of my months of research, I had failed to contact humanitarian organizations or charity groups so volunteering wasn’t a viable option. We offered tips, overpaid for services and picked up the tab for shared taxis when we could. But it wasn’t enough.
A quick Google search reported that Guatemala welcomes 12 million travelers each year. Now imagine if every one of those visitors donated $1.00 to help reverse poverty in that country. How many people could be fed with $12 million a year? How much more sanitary could their living conditions be? How much safer their water?
But how would the money be collected? How would it be distributed? Who could oversee this enormous task?
In preparation for Blog Action Day, I emailed a Senior Vice President at Orbitz.com and put the question to him. Orbitz has a Protect Planet Earth campaign and offers generous assistance to employees who want to volunteer abroad, but why not take it one step farther?
Why not offer customers the option of donating $1.00 to help reverse poverty in the country/region where they are traveling? They offer hotels, cars and entertainment add-ons. Let’s add on something that matters.
What do you think travelers can do to make a difference in the fight against poverty? What is one we each of us can help?
And if the Senior VP responds to my email … I’ll let you know.