Last year Dave and I cycled from Cairo Egypt to Cape Town South Africa. It was an experience of a lifetime to travel through some of the most remote countries in the world. Unfortunately, some of these countries were also some of the poorest and unstable in the world.
That was why we decided to ride for a cause. Formerly Foster Parents Plan, Plan Canada is an international organization that works at a grassroots level to help communities in Africa develop a long term plan to improve their living conditions. They give them the means to become self sufficient and to no longer rely on foreign aid.
We are blessed and lucky to live in a country that is so rich. We have the opportunity to travel to different parts of the world and to see different ways of life.
Cycling in The Tour d'Afrique was the perfect opportunity to raise awareness about our cause. It was a large international race that already had followers and a fan base. We easily gained exposure through their website and through media to talk about not only the race, but to raise awareness for our Cause and to direct them to our site and to Plan to find information on how to help.
It was an extraordinary experience. Plan is a well run organization. We left for Egypt a couple of weeks before the race started and we had the opportunity to visit a project in Cairo. Plan picked us up at our guesthouse and we were off to the poorest part of the city. It was an eye opener. There is no possible way we would have been safe to travel to this part of town on our own. It really was an entirely different world than the rest of the city.We were most definitely in the slums of Cairo.
You can read about our Plan visit in depth at our post Our Plan Project Visit
In 3 months we will be leaving Canada again to travel through Central Asia. Once again, we will be visiting countries that are in desperate need of help. We have not decided yet as to how we are going to give back to these communities, but we do know that we are going to in one way or another.
There are so many ways for travelers to give back to communities.
We find that the simplest and easiest way is to write about it. We don't have the luxury of having instant followers through Plan or the Tour d'Afriques website, but we have worked hard to build our own following with our own travel blog. Hopefully as we grow, we will be able to reach a larger audience and let them know about the social and environmental struggles of the countries that we are about to visit.
Being adventure travelers, we can raise a lot of awareness and gain publicity easily. We can climb for a cause, ride for a cause, cycle for a cause. The list goes on. Newspapers and magazines enjoy hearing about people that have conquered something extraordinary while at the same time supported an organization that is making change in the world.
Travelers can volunteer. Many organizations are looking for volunteers and you have a good chance of being able to help out if you are already in the country.
Teaching English is another way to help. English is becoming a universal language and it opens the door to a world of possibilities for employment. Dave and I volunteered for a night in Cambodia in a small town to help a teacher out. He was from Cambodia himself so his pronunciation of words was off. He stopped us in the street and asked us if we would be willing to lead the class so that they could mimic our pronunciation. Helping out in these remote villages where they don't have the money or the means for organized western TESL can be a great contribution to the community.
Another easy way to give back to communities is to add a button to your website. It doesn't have to be an in your face, give money to my cause hard sell. Simply add an icon in your sidebar linking to a cause that you believe in. It doesn't cost a thing and you don't have to do anything else. Visitors will come to your site, read your posts and explore. They may get the urge to click on your charity of choice and investigate or they may not. But no matter what, you will reach a few people and that is all it takes.
There are many ways to help out this world. We are so fortunate to live in a rich country and to have the opportunity to travel the world. This world brings us a great deal of joy and we feel that the least we can do is to help the communities that enrich our lives so much by giving back to them.
Right now, we are investigating our options for our next trip.
To let people know what is going on can ignite a spark in someone to give. It doesn't have to be money it could be time. It might not even be fore the cause that you are writing about, it could inspire a person to help in their own community.
There is definitely no shortage in this world of people that need help.
Do you have any ideas of ways to give back while traveling. Have you volunteered overseas or raised money for a cause? What were your experiences? We are hoping to start a series involving guest writers to talk about their experiences involving ethical travel. If you would like to contribute, send us an email at [email protected]