Travel Bloggers Give Back

My first travel experiences were centered around working, not merely touring. I was that dorky kid with the fanny pack, but not in a long queue waiting to see a run-down landmark. The first time I was in Jamaica it was to work in a hospital and run summer camps for children. I was old enough to be tempted by all the ganja we were offered – not old enough to actually, partake! In rural Mexico, I helped dig irrigation canals and build a school.

In my late 20s and 30s as I’ve traveled, it’s been different. Not always in a good way. I’ve been tempted by luxury resorts and even more luxurious food. Rum! Wine! Sunsets with rum and wine! There’s an emptiness I’m feeling if I let myself think too deeply. In 2012 I want to get back to my roots, to the sort of travel I did when I was young. I can’t go back to that innocence but I think I can still travel through a place and try to do some good while I am there instead of merely consuming. Until I can find the right project(s), I’ll continue to give what money I can to a few organizations that are dear to my heart. I’m also highlighting organizations at the bottom of every post now. A little way I can use this platform, my blog, for good. I hope.

Muskoka FoundationAlice and Jay and the rest of their team use photography to impact rural communities around the world by teaching children in them a practical skill and a method of capturing their culture to pass down to future generations. It’s probably not shocking that I’d love a charity who uses photography as a means of reaching out, right!

Blood:Water Mission – Clean drinking water is not as available as you might think. Aids is a true epidemic. Blood:Water Mission seeks to combat these two huge issues that have really impacted Africa, in not a good way. I love to check in on them now and again to see photographs and videos from all of the places where they are building wells and bringing clean drinking water and healing the sick. They’re getting it done.

Passports with Purpose – This is another blogger-driven effort which seeks to gather financial means in support of a different project every year. This year, they’re building libraries in Zambia through a partnership with Room to Read. Actually. Building. Libraries. — I want to go swing a hammer with them.

My belief is that travel is a large part of a well-rounded existence and of a diverse character, and there are all kinds of travel. However, if we only ever travel to fulfill our own [selfish] desires than how are we making the world a better place? If you can’t use travel to directly and positively impact the life of another person, perhaps you can use the resources you do have to support these charities, or others, who are on the ground helping make things happen in countries across the globe every day.

And could you use the comment section to let me know your favorite charities? I’m always looking for new ones to support! Perhaps your favorite will be the one I volunteer with in 2012. I’m open to suggestions.

TRAVEL BLOGGERS GIVE BACK (#TBGB on twitter) is a unified movement of bloggers attempting to give back by posting stories about their favorite charity organizations. The goal? To use the power of our collective voice to convince our readers to give their time, energy and/or money to the charities nearest and dearest to our hearts, hopefully making the world in which we travel a better place for all.

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  • http://www.twoOregonians.com twoOregonians

    Hey Kirsten. Well done; loved reading about your thoughts. I can hear the longing in your heart for the depth of meaning, for true experience, and for helping others. Keep up the desires and keep using your voice to spread encouragement to others. Great to learn about #TBGB. One of my favorite overseas non-profits is eduRelief — http://www.edurelief.org. I’ll be featuring them in a future post, but the gist is that they seek to build long-term, sustainable change to overcome rural poverty through education and access to resources. Can’t speak highly enough of them! Love you, lady. Happy Thanksgiving to you… xx

    • http://www.aviatorsandacamera.com/ Kirsten Alana

      Thank you dear! This was a hard one to write … I didn’t want to sound insincere or trite or like a typical, entitled Westerner. I really do want to help people. But that isn’t so easy to communicate. I really do want to see the world changed for the better. Some days it seems impossible and our world seems soo dark. But this is a start. Albeit a small one.

      Thank you so much for pointing me to eduRelief. I’ll be checking them out. And I can’t wait to follow your travels in 2012 to see where and how you impact the world for the better! Soo truly grateful 2011 connected us to one another.

  • Bret @ GreenGlobalTravel

    Lovely post, Kirsten. I think it’s pretty common for us as human beings to be self-centered in our 20s and early 30s, then gradually start to realize, “Holy shit, it’s not actually all about me!” It took me until I was 33 (and the birth of my daughter) to really get it. The older I get, the more I want to do something that matters, ya know? I think we’re always a work-in-progress, but then so is the world. Thanks for sharing!

    • http://www.aviatorsandacamera.com/ Kirsten Alana

      You’re not wrong Bret. Most people gain awareness about the world as a whole best when they age. I think my frustration is that I was really grounded when I was a teen. I lost sight of that in my 20s and wasted so many years. I was sponsoring a child, but I wasn’t giving of my TIME. I hope to change that in 2012. 

      Thanks, too, for starting this project. It’s so good to give back and this has been a great prompt to be more vocal about that. Wish I could do more, today. But it’s a start.

  • http://www.novacationrequired.com Caanan @ No Vacation Required

    What a fantastic, thoughtful post. Although I’m, admittedly, a little biased because this is right in the pocket for us :)

    We have a few giving back initiatives that we’re involved in, but – right now – we are really interested in what Oxfam is doing with their GROW campaign. You can read our thoughts about it here: http://www.novacationrequired.com/2011/10/table-for-9-billion-please/

    We’re BIG on food and education for all. We’re leading up to a planet with 9 billion people (up from 7 billion). 1 billion are already chronically hungry. It’s time we all started to do the math.

    Kirsten, we are so happy to be in the company of people, like you, who care – care about people who struggle day after day. I think the best thing we can do is to keep spreading the word. Advocating is powerful. Given that, I love that you are highlighting organizations on the bottom of posts. Wonderful idea. I am also going to head over to check out #TBGB.

    Thanks for this post!

    • http://www.aviatorsandacamera.com/ Kirsten Alana

      Bias is decidedly ok when this is the situation. We should all be more biased toward helping other people more. An outward focus is better than an inward one. Not as easy, but better. Thanks for the thoughtful comment as always Caanan and I am so glad you brought my attention to Oxfam and GROW.

      Happy Thanksgiving! Hope you are enjoying lots of yumgasmic food in Rome.

  • http://twitter.com/jimshu2000 Jim McIntosh

    Great post Kirsten. Highlighting organisations that are working at grassroots rather than the huge worldwide charities is the way to go. More money actually gets to where it is needed most. Thanks for getting involved and throwing your heart into TBGB. Amazing how many big-hearted people their are in this travel blogging fraternity.

    • http://www.aviatorsandacamera.com/ Kirsten Alana

      Hi Jim! Thank you so much for the comment. Yes, I prefer organisations working at grassroots over larger ones any day. Like you, I believe money goes farther and faster toward actually helping someone in that case. Glad to be a part of TBGB with you!

  • http://technosyncratic.com Technosyncratic

    These all look like amazing organizations, Kirsten.  We are so privileged to lead the life that we do, especially when there are so many that don’t even have the basic necessities of life.  It’s humbling, but that just serves as fuel for action!

    One of my favorite non-profits is Doctors Without Borders. They do such great work and have been particularly instrumental in addressing the systematic rape of women in the Congo. The fact that it’s been going on for so long, and to a devastating degree – while the international community largely ignores the situation – is heartbreaking.

    • http://www.aviatorsandacamera.com/ Kirsten Alana

      Thank you friends! I agree that we are very privileged to lead the lives we do. I hope in 2012 I truly can give back more of that privilege and help others. 2011 was amazing and I saw some amazing places but I don’t want to stand on another beach and feel emptiness wondering how I could better be using my time. I can’t build someone a home every day. But I want to be more about an outward focus than an inward.

  • http://twitter.com/T_G_L_T Jim + Rachel

    Really great contribution to TBGB, Kirsten! I couldn’t agree more regarding your selfless approach towards travel. Thank you very much for sharing, and for support these great organizations.  Muskoka Foundation is new to me, but I am very happy to learn of it.  - Jim

    • http://www.aviatorsandacamera.com/ Kirsten Alana

      Thank you so much for the kind comment Jim! I’m so happy I could introduce you to Muskoka. 

  • http://eagerexistence.com Ian [EagerExistence]

    Ive been doing nothing but consuming and being a tad selfish on my travels for the last 8 months, I am also thinking about giving back a lot lately, just have to find the right projects in the right places (that I want to visit). Experiences, suggestions, and comments welcome… of course. Maybe Ill take a look at PassportsWithPurpose.org as well. Thanks for the post! #TBGB

    • http://www.aviatorsandacamera.com/ Kirsten Alana

      Ian, I can definitely relate to you. Let’s look forward tomorrow and the whole of 2012 before us as a chance to do better. Travel is wonderful and it doesn’t need to stop. But I am looking forward to peppering my travels with chances to positively impact the lives of others in a deeper way than I’ve done before. I’ll enjoy seeing the ways you do that too. Yes – please do check out PWP and good luck finding a program to work with/for. Let’s keep in touch!

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