In addition to our recent donation to help build a larger enclosure for Nonong at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center on our February 2013 Brunei to Bali expedition, we have also given to other communities on our travels through the South Pacific and Central America.
On our recent Faces of Melanesia expedition, in each of the villages we visited, we presented the locals with a box of school supplies. After spending some time with the villagers, we would often learn of other needs the community had, whether it was fuel for the town’s only boat or rations of food, and donated whatever we could spare. Additionally, at the end of our voyage, our travelers gave any extra local currency to our assistant expedition leader so he could purchase necessities and distribute to some of the local villages.
On our Rainforests and Reefs expedition, we stopped in Colombia’s Isla de Providencia where we made a special visit to the Centro Educativo Maria Inmaculada, a local convent school and orphanage. Walking past the classrooms the atmosphere was anything but somber and the exuberant students were eager to meet us. We had an opportunity to present school supplies to the School Director followed by a casual Q&A session with our travelers and the schoolchildren. We then discovered the hidden talents of some of the children and were surprised with a traditional dance performance. The dance of Providencia is the result of an eclectic mixture of influences, including European, polka, mazurka, and waltz, combined with strong Afro-Caribbean influence, and made for the perfect finale to our visit.
While Zegrahm prides itself on always trying to give back to the communities we visit, this charitable spirit extends far beyond what our company values and is an important personal goal of many of our staff. Here are a few of the organizations that our staff members support (and it should be noted that many staff members work with SEVERAL organizations, but we just picked one to feature in this article):
“For the past four years, I have contributed to an organization called Women for Women International (www.womenforwomen.org) which supports women in war-torn regions with financial and emotional aid, job-skills training, rights education, and small business assistance so they can rebuild their lives. I have chosen to support women in Rwanda; each year I am matched with a new "sister" and as her sponsor I provide funds to pay for necessities like food, medicine, and sending children to school, as well as an enrollment in a 12-month program to help her improve her life. We also exchange letters throughout the year, so I can offer emotional support and we can learn about each other's lives.”
- Karen Sinclair, Director of Marketing
“I support www.kiva.org which is an organization that makes micro loans to people in third world countries. It enables them to start businesses or grow existing ones. You can ask for your money back, but most people I know who have been involved leave it so it can be loaned out again and again."
- Jon Nicholson, Director of Operations
“I am a big supporter of Panthera (www.panthera.org) which has brought together the world’s leading wild cat experts to direct and implement effective conservation strategies for the world’s largest and most endangered cats: tigers, lions, jaguars, snow leopards, cougars, leopards, and cheetahs. I have donated several times before to this organization, but this past Christmas I started donating in family member's names and sending them an e-card as a present. They were all really thrilled to receive such a meaningful gift.”
- Ted Kenefick, Program Manager
“I volunteer one Saturday a month during the school year with a local arts non-profit called LINK (www.thelinkprogram.org). Their goal is to connect school-aged, art-minded kids with local working artists and designers through workshops held at Cornish College. In addition to the workshops, LINK holds a portfolio show at the end of the school year and rewards a scholarship to a student. LINK also holds a workshop to help seniors prep for college applications and college entry portfolios. It's a great organization.”
- Andrew Ahl, Private Travel