Travel Spotlight

Global Gratitude: 2015

At Indagare, we believe that travel is not just where you go, but how the experience shapes you, and how conscientious journeys can bring about real and lasting change in the destinations you visit. Continuing a tradition we began last year, Indagare has chosen three charities and made donations to them in our members’ honor. We based our choices on our personal experiences with them and because they inspire us with their commitment to the people and places where they are based. We hope they will inspire our community, too. Here are the organizations we chose to support this year.

Room to Read

Hundreds of millions of children worldwide lack minimal literacy skills. Two thirds of that illiterate population is female. Room to Read is taking steps to end childhood illiteracy and improve gender equality in education. What began as a request for books from a headmaster in rural Nepal has blossomed into a global organization promoting education and equality in thousands of communities across Asia and Africa. Room to Read partners with local communities and governments to develop the habit of reading in primary-school-aged children in ten countries: South Africa, Zambia, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Indagare’s Meredith Santonelli was inspired to action after she read about the organization in 2011 and joined the local chapter in New York City. “I have attended Room to Read talks, meetings and the annual gala and volunteered with the organization,” Meredith says. “The founder, John Wood, is very dedicated.”

The Harpswell Foundation

The Harpswell Foundation was founded to provide education, housing, and leadership training to young women in the developing world.

Harpswell is a politically neutral foundation that selects a number of bright young women possessing leadership potential and nourishes that potential by providing housing, education and leadership training. They are fully supported by donations from individuals, foundations and corporations.

Harpswell focuses on Cambodia, a country that lost most of its educated class to the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s. The organization has built two dormitories to allow women from the provinces to attend college in Phnom Penh (there are 15 different universities in Phnom Penh that the dorms support). In Cambodia, male students may live in the Buddhist temples, but female students cannot, and this ultimately prevents many young women from receiving an education. In May 2008, Harpswell was awarded the Gold Medal for humanitarian service to Cambodia by the government.

Indagare’s Elise Bronzo had a fellowship as a Leadership Resident at the Harpswell Foundation in 2012. Elise writes, “I had the pleasure of witnessing brilliant young women transform from being too shy to make eye contact to expressing opinions in a formal debate with peers. The issue is not intelligence—the issue is the cultural barriers that impede their confidence. Last year, one of my students earned a Rhodes Scholarship and after her studies, plans to return to Cambodia to work in politics.”

Planet Water

Planet Water is a U.S.-based, non-profit international development organization focused on bringing clean water to the world's most disadvantaged communities. Their work targets schools and rural villages, creating sustainable solutions combined with educational programs on hygiene practices.

Through the installation of community-based water filtration systems and education programs on water-health and hygiene, Planet Water has already helped bring water to millions of people. By providing access to sanitation facilities and clean drinking water, they work towards fulfilling their mission to alleviate waterborne disease, illness and death. Their projects create an amazing ripple effect: young girls no longer spend their days finding and collecting water, so they can get an education; communities find their productivity increased; lives are forever changed.

Indagare’s Gina Paoloni has personally participated in their projects. Last March, she traveled to Cambodia to work on Project 24 helping to build 24 water towers in 24 hours in 24 rural communities in Siem Reap. “It was an incredible experience, one that helped improve the lives of those in the communities as well as my own.” Gina says, “I was honored to be able to bring a positive change while helping create greater awareness about the global water crisis.”

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