Responsible Travel: Charity Begins!

Last week I posted my thoughts on responsible travel and sustainable tourism as part of Blog Action Day 2008. After I wrote the post, I received an e-mail from Jennifer Mahran, one of the co-founders of Charity Begins, a non-profit organization whose sole purpose it so promote responsible and sustainable travel through charitable acts.

The premise behind Charity Begins is to have socially-conscious travelers benefit countries that they visit by delivering important items to the places they travel to. So, for instance, if I were traveling to Nepal, and an organization had a box of books to deliver to a library there, Charity Begins would match us up, and I would deliver the books for them. This saves the charity time and money shipping the item, and allows me to be a more responsible and informed traveler.

According to their website, Charity Begins launched back in 2006, and since then has shipped “school supplies, shoes, and clothing to orphanages, schools, refugee camps, and women’s shelters throughout the world.” They also note that “By making these deliveries via vacationers, business travelers, backpackers, and other independent travelers, the cost of shipping is eliminated and 100% of every dollar goes to helping people living in poverty.”

On the Charity Begins website you’ll find a number of resources should you choose to help out on your next adventure abroad. Their Travelers page, for instance, provides the basic information for those wanting to take part, and provides a list of developing countries that may have items to be delivered. There is also information on how to donate to the cause, as well as how to nominate a charity that could benefit from the service.

When I wrote that piece last week, this is exactly the kind of thing I had in mind, and it’s great to see organizations like this one exist. The next time you’re heading out on a new adventure, consider doing something like this to give a little back to that place that is providing you with amazing and memorable experiences. You’ll be glad you did, and the world will be a little better place for your efforts.

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