Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Guilt Free Vacations

Last summer I helped fund my friend’s daughter’s a trip to Tanzania where she would be teaching at a local village school. Tom Lithgow of Firelight Expeditions founded this school with the profits from his resort and safari adventures. Tom also involves his guests in supporting the school, by taking them to visit to school and providing opportunities to help fund the school’s short and long term needs.

Here is the Abby’s story and more information about this form of philanthropic travel as written by Abby’s mom, Sara Hunter, a writer for the Christian Science Monitor of http://www.sarahunterproductions.com/

"Abby and three other college students, who had previously traveled on safari with Tanzanian legend, Tom Lithgow, pioneered a program last summer to teach in the village across the water from Tom's new high end island lodge in the middle of Lake Tanganyika. Tom, one of only fourteen Caucasian Tanzanian citizens, grew up in Tanzania assisting his father, a Hollywood-style hunting guide. At a young age, he vowed he would devote himself to photo safaris if he followed in the family safari business. His African adventure company: www.firelightexpeditions.com is the glorious result. We were lucky enough to travel with Tom eight summers ago as a family -- staying at his private camp sites in Katavi and the Serengeti. One year ago, upon completion of a private airstrip, he opened a world class, elegant, beach resort: Lupita Island Lodge, not far from Jane Goodall's famed chimpanzee reserve. By special arrangement with Tom, guests can tour the village school, help with school supplies and current building projects, or tailor a longer term commitment to fit their goals. In our daughter's case, she lived in staff housing at the Lodge and commuted by boat to the village for ten weeks, teaching English to students aged 8-18, who spoke Swahili. It was a summer she will never forget for its beauty, remoteness, and submersion into the village life of an African seaside community. Best of all, were her students. I've attached a photo of three of them."

The New York Times, recently published a story about “guilt free” vacation. The article featured a variety of ways people are choosing to make their vacations more meaningful for themselves and for others. He travel options described were high end safari travel that included volunteering or giving back to the visited communities. Other vacation possibilities included helping with the environment in some way or getting out into nature.

Another option for guilt free vacations, is Social Impact Adventures, (which I wrote about in an earlier post), where one can learn about how microfinancing works, meet with the experts in the field of microfinance, and meet some of the local entrepreneurs that have been helped with financing. http://businessthatcares.blogspot.com/2009/03/vacations-that-have-social-impact.html
Communities benefit from tourism, but the why not add more impact by directly contributing to the places we visit?

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