Imagine yourself in a schoolroom in one of the most remote regions of one of the most hard-to-reach countries on earth. Nepal. The Lower Mustang region to be exact. To reach it takes a 14-hour flight from New York to Doha, Qatar. Then four hours by air to Kathmandu. Transfer at one of the world’s most dangerous airports to a 90-minute flight to Pokhara, followed by a jarring, eight-hour Jeep ride over a vertiginous dirt road – one side is a mountain wall, the other side a two-hundred foot cliff.
Finally you arrive, but it’s not just any schoolroom. It has been converted into an operating room so that doctors from New York Eye & Ear Infirmary can provide the gift of sight to 24 Nepalis who were blind due to advanced cataracts.
Jeff Blumenfeld witnessed this first hand. He was there as a traveler, but also as a volunteer.
People often wonder how they can explore the world and help the less fortunate even if they don’t possess specialized skills. These are people who make lousy vacationers. They’re bored sitting on a beach or touring umpteen churches on a cruise ship excursion. They want a meaningful role when they travel.
That’s where voluntourism comes in – a mix of both travel and volunteering. Is it hard work building wells and schoolhouses or excavating dinosaur bones? Yes, it is. But voluntourism doesn’t take a particular outdoor skill, just plenty of sweat and the desire to see the world and leave it a better place.
Travel With Purpose deals not with celebrities, nor the rich and famous. Instead, it relays examples from Blumenfeld’s travels and many others from Las Vegas to Nepal. From health care facilities to impoverished schools. These are stories of inspiration from everyday people, all of whom have definite opinions about the best way to approach that first volunteer vacation.
You don’t need to be wealthy to travel to foreign lands to volunteer; you may not even have to go to foreign lands, as opportunities may exist within your own state. Blumenfeld shows readers how to identify the right location and volunteer situation, how to go about planning trips and preparing for activities, how to reach out, how to help. Through vivid examples and first hand stories from both recipients of volunteer work and the volunteers themselves, Travel with Purpose may make you rethink your next vacation.