Pulling a suitcase down from the closet and filling it with necessities is one part of travel that we're all familiar with! Some love it and some hate it. Some people meticulously follow a method by using checklists and begin the process of packing days or even weeks in advance. Others procrastinate the task as long as possible and haphazardly throw things together at the last minute before running out the door. Regardless of your style, packing a bag is a necessity for every trip you take.
But have you ever considered how you might
Pack with Purpose?
You can use a corner of your suitcase for good! In this post, we'll look at some of the ways TOP travelers have Packed with Purpose this past year. And not only that, because of the generosity of others, TOP travelers have even had the opportunity to transport items from people back at home with big hearts to people around the world in need. Keep reading to learn more!
The year began when Laura from the Travel 80 by 80 blog reached out to get connected with an organization in Guatemala. This family of four was planning a trip to Guatemala and wanted to find a way to add purpose to their vacation. We connected them with Fundamaya, a non-profit serving the poor community in Panajachel. Fundamaya's mission is to care for the elderly, provide education, food aid, and sewing classes. After a few email conversations, Laura and her family decided to get involved by helping to transport greatly needed bed sheets for men and women in the eldercare program. They were able to meet up and learn more about how this organization is making a difference in the community and pass along the supplies.
Laura and her family in Panajachel, Guatemala
Another way TOP travelers have been able to Pack with Purpose is through the distribution of pillowcase dresses. A sewing group from North Coast Church in California meets regularly to sew these simple designs. This group of ladies want to use their hobby to bless others, so they create hundreds of these dresses each year and then partner with ministries around the world to get them into the hands of needy girls. TOP travelers have been privileged to be the delivery method of these beautiful, simple dresses for girls.
In March 2022, we distributed nearly 100 dresses to Kids Alive International in Guatemala. And just last month were able to take another 75 dresses to Uganda. The Kibaale Community Center is serving a rural area of Uganda that has been ravaged by AIDS/HIV. Peasant farmers barely grow enough to eat and many are without an education or a way of making a better life for themselves. Most homes are simple structures made with mud and sticks and a water source may be an hour's walk away. The Kibaale Community Centre is caring for the community through Christian education, health care, food security, and clean water initiatives.
Throughout our stay, we had the opportunity to participate in home visits and meet people throughout the community. Each time we took a bag of pillowcase dresses with us. We would quickly survey the sizes of the girls we met at each stop and distribute dresses accordingly. Most of the children we encountered (who were not enrolled in school) were wearing clothing that resembled rags. Handing a young girl a new, clean and colorful dress was a small act of kindness.
What a joy to know that women from a church in California are using their sewing skills to bless others. They may or may not ever travel to Guatemala or Uganda, but their love has stretched across borders and touched girls in need.
Another way TOP travelers Pack with Purpose is in taking used laptops to a small village on the shore of Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. Travel on Purpose takes groups of women to Guatemala for a culturally immersive vacation that gives back. One of the activities on the itinerary is a cooking class with Anita in San Pedro la Laguna. As we have continued to build a relationship with Anita over the past year with multiple visits, we have learned about her efforts to keep local kids in school. COVID and remote learning has hit this small community especially hard. Limited technological resources have caused many students to fall behind. So when TOP travelers had a chance to help transport used laptops, we jumped at the chance. Something old and dusty sitting in a closet can make a big difference for a student in need.
Do you have an old laptop you can donate? We can take it along on a future trip to Anita's cooking class.
In February of 2020, over 400 women from North Coast Church gathered for a women's retreat in Indian Wells, California. The women were presented with a "dress drive" for girls in Uganda and invited to donate new or gently used dresses or skirts. Hundreds of pounds of dresses were collected and just last month, those dresses finally (thanks to a COVID delay) made their way to the Kibaale Community Center. Enrolled students are given two uniforms, but many of them don't have much else to wear when they're not in school. The class of Senior girls were invited to select a dress of their choice. It was a fun afternoon of "shopping," and it turns out that women are the same everywhere. What fun watching them pick up one piece after another considering the color, size, and style before selecting!
If you're reading this and contributed a donation back in 2020, thank you! (Note: Half of the dresses collected went to the Kibaale Community Center in Rakai and the other half went to the Timothy Girls High School in Masaka).
The goal is not to flood developing countries with "stuff" from the west. So when we Pack with Purpose, we always follow some essential guidelines.
1. We rely on our non-profit partners and follow their lead on what to bring and what not to bring. We always begin with asking what they need and how we can help. It's never our idea. The plan starts with the experts on the ground.
2. We consider how the goods we bring might affect the local economy or hurt local businesses. If it's possible to purchase an item in-country and then donate it, that will always be our first choice.
3. We almost always hand the donated items over to the organizations we partner with and rarely distribute them ourselves. We believe it's important for the people who are invested in the community and have built relationships with the people they serve, to be the ones to distribute items.
Packing with Purpose is a great way for people to get involved in helping others. Whether you're traveling or not, you can still help Pack with Purpose.
So keep this simple, yet helpful idea in mind next time you're planning a trip!
Interested in donating items for a future trip?
Travel on Purpose always has group tours on the horizon.
Reach out and let us know you'd like to help!