Anyone who has traveled to a third world country has packed a pile of pencils, pens or slap bracelets to give out to the kids they meet. While those little trinkets are exciting for the youngsters, we are missing out on the bigger picture of what we can really do for these kids.
Enter former school teacher Rebecca Rotheny, founder of Pack for a Purpose. 14 years ago she went to Africa with her husband and while she could only take 40 pounds of luggage on safari, she realized the airline allowed her 100 pounds of checked luggage plus 40 pounds carry-on. This was her ‘aha’ moment. On her second trip she looked into visiting a school and contacted Wilderness Safaris to see if they could help determine what these kids may need. They ended up delivering 140 pounds of school supplies to the school. As Rotheny told us, “I know how hard it is to get school supplies here in Raleigh; I can’t imagine how hard it is to find them in Botswana!” They also delivered deflated soccer balls. “I saw these kids playing soccer with a ball of rags in a plastic bag,” she remembers.
Pack for a Purpose launched in 2009 with 29 places and now has over 400. They have had families, wedding parties and even MIT business school take part in the journey. “Anybody can pack for a purpose,” Rebecca reminds us. And to be sure your donations are landing in good hands, the organization tracks everything to make sure it is getting used but also to understand the metrics.
To help is fairly simple – click on their Destinations tab and find the area of the world you are heading to. Then click on it and see if there is a nearby hotel/resort where you can drop off your donations. Then check out the list of needs, stock up, pack up and drop off – Easy – And this isn’t just for jet setters to Africa and Asia. There are contacts in Mexico, The Caribbean and Central America too.
Check out this video to see one family’s journey with their five pounds of supplies.