The VolunTourist™ is a premium Newsletter for the Travel Trade. For those interested in discovering what is happening in the world of VolunTourism and seeking emerging practices, general information, and case studies, this is your Source.
Ambassadors For Children!
Dr. Sally Brown and her team have created a unique series of itineraries throughout the world for VolunTourists who want to make a difference in the lives of children. If kids are your passion, then look to AFC to fulfill your VolunTourism dreams.
For this issue, we have the pleasure of reviewing a VolunTourism Operator with roots in the travel industry. Dr. Sally Brown, former President of Ambassadair Travel Club, is now the President & CEO of Ambassadors For Children (AFC). Here are her thoughts and AFC and VolunTourism.
A Brief History & Background
Former Ambassadair Travel Club President Sally Brown followed her vision to combine travel with serving others and founded AFC in 1998. An Honorary Board of Governors was formed with a diverse membership including doctors, educators, travel experts, media specialists and representatives from the business and non-profit sector. Ambassadors for Children is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting peace and understanding through face to face cultural exchange opportunities. Since its inception, AFC has assisted over 50,000 children worldwide through over a hundred socially engaged travel missions distributing over three million dollars in aid.
Ambassadors for Children betters the lives of children who live, study and play in impoverished communities, while offering volunteers a life-changing experience. Ambassadors for Children trips provide hands-on interaction with disadvantaged children, balanced by opportunities for sightseeing and immersion in the native culture of the community served.
AFC provides the opportunity for individuals, families, school/university groups and other organizations to personally help children in the United States and internationally. In addition to the cultural benefits of the program, AFC donates and delivers specifically requested goods and services to the children by collaborating with local organizations.
The concept of “voluntourism” is a growing trend in the tourism industry and is starting to draw attention from researchers and marketers alike (Wearing 2003). Volunteer tourism can take two different forms. The first refers to individuals who take a “volunteer-minded” trip and devote most or all of their vacation to volunteer activities at the destination. This type of volunteer tourism is often called a mission or service trip.
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The second form of volunteer tourism takes on a lighter tone where the individual is largely vacation-minded, but spends a small portion of the vacation time on volunteer work at the destination (Brown and Morrison, 2003). The term “volunteer vacation” refers to this type of trip where a tour operator gives travelers an opportunity to participate in an optional excursion that has a volunteer component, as well as a cultural exchange with local people. These brief encounters have often proven to be the highlight of the individuals’ vacations (Brown and Morrison, 2003). Participants on volunteer vacations are finding a change in their perspective on the world, learning new skills and greatly impacting the lives of others. They also found that their vacations benefit themselves at least as much as they do the people being served.
Due to the benefits that have been documented, there is a major motivation to expose individuals, families, and especially high school and college students to this experience of volunteering in a third world country. This is at a vital time to think about the world at large; what career opportunities and life passions they want to pursue.
Unique Volunteerism & Tourism Activities
Ambassadors For Children (AFC) is unique in regard to offering short-term humanitarian trips around the world to serve children. Every trip is different in regard to some programs are heavy with humanitarian activities where others are "mission lite". Participants get an opportunity on all our trips to be involved in helping with sustainable projects and enrichment programs. We have incorporated implementing different modules depending what the needs are in the schools or orphanages we serve.
For example, peace education activities are being implemented by volunteers in Jamaican classrooms, where conflict is a major problem in this country. Volunteers go room to room performing easy modules that have been created for all ages in 30-45 minute time frame. Other activities are friendship quilts, which are very popular in orphanages and/or schools; yoga session with the children have been done and they loved it; adventure travel with humanitarian work; yoga retreat with participants mixed with humanitarian activities; environmental module is being done in Belize schools where that is an issue on one of the islands; painting a classroom; building a library area and supplying books; matching orphans with a volunteer and taking them to the movies/amusement park/boat trip/tour of nearly historical attraction; dinners hosted by families; hiking Machu Pichu in Peru preceded by medical exams; we do fluoride treatments for children we see every year; the type of activities we do and have done are endless!!!!
Other trips have included 4 days working then going on safari in Kenya; exploring Vietnam after giving eye care; having tea in Royal Palace in Serbia after working in orphanages, hospitals, and visiting refugee camps; swimming in the Dead Sea in Jordan and also working in refugee camps and center for abandoned children; spring break alternatives to Cancun, Belize, and Puerto Vallarta where beach time is fun but most important aspect in the end was working with the children in schools and orphanages; visit with First Lady in El Salvador; Haiti during Carnival but days spent working in villages; CUBA - visiting Hemingway's haunts but also doing humanitarian work; supporting school on Navajo Indian Reservation and also visiting local pueblos; International Yoga Festival in India staying at ashram with orphanage of 150 boys; exploring Antigua and Tikal in Guatemala and taking annual trip near Christmas to deliver presents to orphan children we support; doing service projects in Costa Rica then enjoying rainforest and beaches; etc.
Sample Itinerary (Kenya)
Day 1 - Depart the United States to Nairobi, Kenya.
Day 2 - Arrive in Nairobi and check into the Boulevard Hotel. The afternoon and evening are free to explore Nairobi on your own.
Day 3 - After breakfast and a volunteer briefing, visit Giraffe Center and The Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage. Lunch is at the Veranda, and then spend the afternoon at Cottolengo Centre HIV orphanage, working with the children.
Day 4 - Depart for Eldoret and check into the Sirikwa Hotel. Your evening is free.
Day 5 - Spend the day volunteering at the Eldoret Children's Rescue Centre. Your evening is free.
Day 6 - Spend the morning working in the slums of Huruma at the Huruma Baptist Nursery School. Depart for Nairobi in the afternoon, and overnight at the Boulevard Hotel.
Day 7 - Depart for Amboseli and check into Classic Camp. Enjoy lunch and an afternoon game drive.
Day 8 - Spend the day visiting a local Masai village and work on various projects with the people. This evening enjoy sundowners and traditional dancing.
Day 9 - Depart early this morning from Amboseli and return to Nairobi. Lunch at the Hardy House, and return to the Boulevard Hotel for day rooms for those ending the trip. Those who choose to take advantage of the optional safari extension will depart for Lake Nakuru.
Day 10 - After breakfast, set out to see the famous pink flamingos of Lake Nakuru. After lunch, join an afternoon game drive. Your evening is free.
Day 11 - Early morning drive across the Great Rift Valley to the Masai Mara. Check into the Serena Mara and enjoy lunch and an afternoon game drive. Your evening is free.
Days 12 through 13 - Explore the vast savannahs and view the incredible wildlife - the timing of this trip is perfect to see the Great Migration.
Day 14 - Morning game drive and then depart for Nairobi. A day room is available at the Boulevard until your departure to repack, shower or rest. Depart for the United States.
Web site: www.ambassadorsforchildren.org
Sally Brown - email@example.com
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