Giving back, whether by volunteering at a seniors centre, donating to a charity or helping a friend or neighbour in need, is something that makes us feel good. Feeling good can’t be underestimated, but giving back has many other benefits including making an impact on the world around us and strengthening our communities. For those of us who feel lonely, volunteering is a fantastic way to meet like-minded individuals. We can share our expertise, improve our skills or learn new ones.
Years ago, wanting to give back but being overwhelmed by where to start, a friend recommended the book Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. This emotional read documented the oppression of women and girls in the developing world. The authors showed how a little help can transform the lives of women and girls abroad. They made clear how so many people have helped to do just that, and how we can each do our part. It opened me up to a way of thinking, that just a little bit was something and that it was certainly better than nothing.
During my recent trip to Panama and a stay at La Loma Jungle Lodge, I was inspired by the work done by the lodge owners who are deeply committed to working with the Ngobe people who live in the Bahia Honda region, where the lodge is located. Through education, environmental awareness, health, cultural pride and income generation programs, they hope to help empower people to overcome the many obstacles that they face due to the impact of tourism on the traditional way of life.
In addition to partnering with two non-profit organizations – Education is Power, a foundation established specifically to fundraise for educational programs and Give and Surf, who recruit volunteers to work on the ground to deliver many of the projects, they are also proud members of Pack for a Purpose, an initiative that allows travelers to make a lasting impact in the community at travel destinations worldwide.
As someone who loves to travel, Pack for a Purpose resonated with me as it seems an incredibly easy way to help disadvantaged areas with the donation of school supplies, personal care items and medical essentials. By setting aside a little bit of space in my suitcase, this charity is one I’ll keep in mind for my next trip. I encourage you to check out their site in advance of your next holiday and maybe make your next trip a little bit more meaningful.
If doing good can be so easy, why wouldn’t we?