Attention travel bloggers: Looking to inject a little activism into your routine? Then Passports With Purpose, an annual fundraiser organized and promoted by a diverse group of travel bloggers, is looking for you!
Last year, the group – led by Debbie Dubrow of Delicious Baby, Beth Whitman of Wanderlust and Lipstick, Michelle Duffy of Wandermom and Pam Mandel of Nerds Eye View – raised nearly $30,000 to build a school in Preah Vihear, a rural area in northern Cambodia. Because Passports With Purpose reached more than double their goal of $13,000, they were also able to provide the kids there with a school nurse, clean water, and at least one complete meal a day.
This year, PwP is setting its sights on India. At last night’s kickoff, sponsored by SCOOT (Seattle Consortium of Online Travel), the organizers told us more about the 2010 fundraiser recipient, Land for Tillers’ Freedom (LAFTI), a non-profit organization dedicated to changing the conditions of the Dalit Caste, India’s poorest of the poor.
David Albert, a board member of LAFTI’s U.S.-based non-profit branch, Friends of LAFTI, told us about the dismal conditions experienced by the Dalit caste, also known as the “untouchables.”At one time, a Dalit was not allowed to let their shadows fall upon a non-Dalit caste member, and employers threw coins at them out the window rather than risk contamination by handing them money. The Dalits were segregated in huts built of mud and straw outside of main villages and foraged for food; people considered roasted water rat a delicacy, Albert said.
LAFTI’s founder, a woman named Krishnammal, is dedicated to building real homes for this landless group. About $2,000 in donations can build a home, Albert said (the construction is partially subsidized by the government and some Indian interests). If PwP meets its goal of raising $50,000, it can build an entire village.
Want to get involved? Here’s how the PwP process works: Each participating blogger secures a prize (either travel related or non) for the fundraiser from a vendor. Readers can bid on prizes by making $10 donations for the items they want. Judging by last year’s results, organizers said, the money can flow in quite fast, particularly when prizes involve trips to Belize or hotel stays.
(PwP could also be a good avenue for people who are trying to map out their 2010 tax deductible donations. I know that my company matches personal charitable donations so I hope to steer a little bit of that corporate largesse their way).
In the next few months, bloggers will be searching for prizes to give away. For those PR folks out there who read this blog, this could be a great opportunity to connect your client to active social media exposure (because you know this group is going to tweet/Facebook/Stumble/blog the heck out of it!) Sponsorships are also available for any companies out there who want big time exposure in the travel blogosphere.
To sign up, bloggers should visit the Passports With Purpose website. The drawing starts in November and runs through December.
(I’m excited to participate; last year, I wasn’t in a position to get involved in anything remotely resembling activism. I’m glad that’s changed. As Michelle Duffy of Wandermom said last night, sometimes it’s good for bloggers to get out of their me-me-me world and participate in something aimed at the greater good).