As news of our trip has spread, it seems like every other person we talk to wants to know if we’re going to do volunteer work while we travel. The truth is that, yes, we would like to do some volunteer work along the way and we will strive to seek out opportunities to do so. But we want to be conscious of the impact our volunteering has on the community. And by that, we mean we want to ensure that any volunteer activities we are involved in are part of developmental goals in that community, and are creating real long-term benefits to the community rather than just some short-lived activity that is created solely to make us feel good about ourselves or casts us as foreign heroes.
It’s a huge world. Can two people really make a difference?
We do believe that individuals can make a difference, whether they’re traveling or right here at home. With that in mind, we’ve been very focused on making sure we use local companies on our journeys, and do our part to support local economies and the communities we visit. Along the way, we will be sharing our “give back” plans and volunteer experiences with you right here on the blog, along with information on organizations we’ve chosen to work with and why we picked them.
As part of that initiative we are happy to announce one piece of our plan to give back in what we feel is a meaningful way to the countries we visit. This piece of the plan involves an organization called Kiva.
What is Kiva?
Kiva is a non-profit organization that strives to end poverty through microfinance, the idea that low-income individuals are capable of lifting themselves out of poverty if given access to financial services. Kiva creates a unique partnership between people like us or you and people around the world in impoverished situations who need a loan to help them improve their living conditions or grow their business. By “leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world.” Here is a little video that shows how the Kiva process works:
We’ve been big fans of Kiva for a while now and have gotten to see how well the process works. We are impressed with what they stand for and how they & their field partners choose to run their businesses, with a focus on social performance. It’s exciting to see how they take so many small gestures and utilize them to create lasting positive change for the communities they serve.
So what are we going to do about it?
We’ve decided that we will make one $25 loan in each country we visit on our travels. Once we arrive in a country, we’ll let you know what individual we’ve chosen from Kiva. And if we’re in a country without any individuals needing a loan, we’ll pick the next closest country to our location and fund a loan there. We’ll also invite you to participate with us along the way, if you are so inclined.
Can travel make a difference? We’re certainly going to give it a try.
If you would like to be more involved in this process with us, or you have other ideas or connections related to volunteering as we travel, post them in the comments or send us an email. We’d love to hear from you.
Alana Best says
Lonely Planet has a guide full of volunteer opportunities when traveling abroad. Here is a link to the book information: http://shop.lonelyplanet.com/world/volunteer-a-travellers-guide-2
Bookworks had a copy in stock a few weeks ago and it looks like it would be a great resource. 🙂