Adventure Safari Brings Easy Way To Give Back

safari

Traveling almost anywhere around the world, we see people in need. Many struggle to survive in endangered areas or in a place where an earthquake, tsunami or another natural disaster has occurred. But those in need can be located at stops along our way in the Caribbean, South America, Europe or some other areas too. In the past, it has been hard not to feel the need to help, but often more difficult to know what we can do with the limited time and resources we bring when traveling. Then we found Pack For A Purpose (PFAP), a non-profit organization that lets us give back in a very meaningful way.

Eleven years ago, during their first trip to Africa, Scott and Rebecca Rothney learned that while they were each limited to 40 pounds of luggage on safari, their airline had an allowance of 100 pounds of checked luggage, plus a 40-pound carry-on.

To make a long story short, the Georgia couple asked themselves, with an attitude typical of their Southern hospitality, “Why not take advantage of that unused weight and bring along supplies that will fulfill some need?” They noted how it wouldn’t cost fliers anything to ship and that they could be doing some good. With this in mind, the two launched Pack For A Purpose.

“In making plans for a second trip, we looked into visiting a school near the lodge we would visit in Botswana,” says Rothney. “We contacted our safari company, Wilderness Safaris, to see if we could determine any specific needs of that school. Armed with that information, we were able to deliver 140 pounds (64 kg) of school supplies, including soccer balls, to the school.”

%Gallery-180487%Building on that experience but making it easy by asking travelers to pack just five pounds (2.27 kg) of various supplies, the idea was to involve everyone who wanted to add value to their trip by participating.

travelers give backTo make it even easier, the destinations travelers might visit are organized on the PFAP website by continent, then by country, resort, lodging or tour. Travelers who are considering a land vacation or going on a cruise that stops in Jamaica, for example, will find 18 different properties listed where supplies can be dropped off.

The idea worked. In the first three years of operation, PFAP has been instrumental in delivering over 17,000 pounds of supplies.

Making even more sense of the PFAP plan, Rothney said “We don’t look at it as ‘charity’. It’s a way of saying ‘thank you’ and showing our appreciation for the wonderful experience we have in these places we visit,” in a telephone interview with Gadling.

Think about that for a minute: can you spare five pounds worth of space in luggage?

Pack For A Purpose
points out that five pounds translates to:

  • 400 Pencils, or
  • 5 deflated soccer balls with an inflation device, or
  • A stethoscope, a blood pressure cuff and 500 bandages.

All are much-needed supplies at a variety of locations around the world.

Check this video with Rebecca Rothney explaining what Pack For A Purpose is all about:



[Images - Pack For A Purpose]

Biking In Guatemala City? One Group Is Proving It’s Possible

On a recent Saturday, the streets were filled with bicycles. Bells rang and horns sounded as the cyclists wound their way throughout the city like a moving train of youth and energy.

This wasn’t in Portland, or Paris, or any of dozens of bicycle-friendly cities around the world. This was in Guatemala City, a city known more for its violent crime rates than its progressive bike culture.

But one group is trying to change that. Biketun is a new organization started by Javier Mata and Lucia Pivaral with the purpose of promoting a more sustainable way of life and transport in Guatemala.

The group’s signature event is a nighttime bicycle tour of Guatemala City. The first was held in December and drew around 250 people. The second, held in February, drew more than 500. The goal is to one day attract 10,000 cyclists to Guatemala’s streets.

According to Pivaral, Biketun’s mission is to show the country that a better lifestyle is possible – “a lifestyle in which Guatemalans own not only public spaces, but most of all, our freedom. A lifestyle in which we can go out on our bicycles, go to the park, walk on the streets, and interact with different people without any worries.”


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Pivaral says that public spaces in Guatemala City have been abandoned because of fear, which then leads to degeneration, negative perceptions and danger. Parents keep children at home because they are scared that they will be exposed to drugs and violence on the city streets.

“This is similar to a field with bad grass,” she says. “When we don’t use the field, bad grass grows and the only way of removing it is re-taking control of the field and making use of it. This is what this movement is about.”

Biketun events wind through different parts of Guatemala City. The December event was centered on the main avenues – Bulevar Liberación, Avenue Américas, Obelisco, Reforma, Plaza 30 de Marzo, Septima Avenida – with an itinerary designed to take in the Christmas sights and lights. The second event was organized in cooperation with the Municipality of Guatemala, which provided an educational tour of different sites in the Historic Center of the City, like the National Palace, Iglesia La Merced and Railroad Museum.

“Doing this regenerates my energy and soul, along with my hope for humanity,” says Pivaral. “I deeply believe that for a city to progress, we need to take into consideration sustainable ways of living. The best way to approach this, for me, was not talking about it, but starting to live it.”

The next Biketun event is scheduled to coincide with Earth Day in April. There is no cost to participate, and a limited number of bicycles are available for rent on the organization’s Eventbrite page. For more information, visit Biketun on Facebook.

[Photo Credit: Jorge Toscana, Biketun]

Bird’s-Eye Snapshots Of Hong Kong’s Most Claustrophobic Apartments

If you’ve ever wished you had more space in your home, just wait until you see these startling images of abysmally tiny apartments in Hong Kong.

The livings spaces are so small that the bed, TV, kitchen and office are all within arm’s reach, and belongings are stacked precariously high along the walls.

According to human rights group The Society for Community Organization (SoCO), nearly 100,000 people in Hong Kong live in these tiny spaces known as “cubicle apartments.”But it’s not just bachelors living in these cramped quarters – entire families are crammed into the 40-square-foot apartments, which are the result of illegal subdivisions.

The series of images show the living spaces as viewed from above, and the perspective makes the already claustrophobic apartments seem even more dizzying.

SoCO commissioned the photos in order to raise awareness of the atrocious living conditions. The QR code you see in the corner of each image links to a petition urging Hong Kong’s government to do something about the inadequate housing.

Take a look at the photos below.

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[Photo credit: Society for Community Organization/Publicis Hong Kong]

New System Makes Hailing A Wheelchair-Accessible Taxi Easy In New York

accessible dispatch When people envision New York, what often comes to mind is the busy streets and the sea of yellow taxis; however, out of the approximately 13,000 cabs in NYC, only 233 are wheelchair accessible. So, in a city where, by law, you must hail a taxi on the street, how is someone who is disabled supposed to get one?

In order to help with the problem, a new system created by Metro Taxi has launched. Called Accessible Dispatch, the company uses a GPS system to tracks each of the 233 wheelchair-accessible taxis. These can be ordered by:

No advance reservation is required, and the taxis will be able to take any passengers from Manhattan to any of the five boroughs, Westchester and Nassau counties and the three regional airports. There are no extra fees, as passengers pay the metered rate starting from when they get in to the vehicle to when they get dropped off. Additionally, all drivers who operate these taxis have been specially trained in wheelchair assistance, boarding and de-boarding conduct, as well as disability awareness and passenger sensitivity.

“This is an entirely new kind of service,” said Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky, “and it is a real and tangible reflection of our dedication to making quality taxicab service available to all those who want it.”

[Image via Accessible Dispatch]

Two Travelers Are Making Their Way Around The World … In A Tuk Tuk?




In possibly the slowest form of transportation known to man, backpackers Rich Sears and Nick Gough have recently set out on an interesting journey. Their goal is to break the world record for longest ride in a tuk tuk (shown above).

Beginning in France, they’re making their way to Rio de Janeiro. According to news.com.au, the men will be catching a ferry from Turkey to Egypt then traveling across India and Singapore, to the west coast of the United States. They’ll also be going through Central and South America.

The challenge isn’t so much the distance, but the speed. With a top velocity of 34 miles per hour going downhill with a breeze, they aren’t able to move very fast.

“It’s slow. Again something you think might be obvious but the average speed is a lot slower than the speedometer has been pumping our egos with,” it says on their blog. “Uphill and it starts to get embarrassing. The dizzy heights of 5-6 mph have been hit on some of the steeper hills.”

Other concerns are extreme noise, disease and weather conditions. We wish them luck, as the journey is raising money for The Tuk Tuk Educational Trust, a registered UK charity that aims to “promote and advance education worldwide.”

Sears and Gough hope to complete the journey by the end of next year. You can check out their website or follow them on Twitter to keep up with their travels or get involved.