Don’t let people pull you into their storm. Pull them into your peace. Kimberly Jones
At the end of the school year in 2004, five classes collected 30KG of stationery. Whatever was left over – little stubs of pencils and little knobs of erasers. From there the Travelling Pencils grew, a community started by Singapore-based teacher Atima Joshi.
Where did this stationery go? The first batch went to a school and orphanage in Noida, India. By gifting this stationery, Travelling Pencils alleviated one burden on a limited budget which also had to cover food and healthcare.
This mission grew and grew, travelling to other countries, including Vietnam, Cambodia, and Philippines. Each year about 60-70 kg is collected, turning what would have been discarded even if in good working order into a second lease for the stationery and a much-needed resource for children in Asia.
Each pencil can write 45,000 words in English Atima Joshi
It started out with pencils and soon books were included. Organic growth.
The goal is to have hubs around the world, to collate each person’s sphere of influence, at any level. Atima sees Travelling Pencils not belonging to anyone, any one group but to everyone. She sees worldwide hubs, with everyone coming together.
What Travelling Pencils needs is volunteers to store, sort, and distribute the stationery. Do you have extra baggage space when you travel?
Perhaps it is time to re-look at our consumption. Do we need to purchase all that we do? Do we fully what we purchase and not keep buying and buying? These are some of the questions Atima raises.
Modisa, which means “shepherd” in the local language of Setswana, was founded in 2010 by Mikel Legarth from Denmark and Valentin Gruener from Germany to bring about sustainable conservationist changes by working with the local community in Botswana.
The aim of the Modisa Wildlife Project is to engage in the conservation of the Kalahari ecosystem by promoting awareness at the local and global scale, assisting in the mitigation of human-carnivore conflict, and providing support to researchers.
Once one of the poorest countries, Botswana is fast growing while remaining committed to wildlife, with over 35% of land being used for parks and reserves.
Do you want to learn more about wildlife and conservation? Modisa has a volunteer program geared towards giving real-life experience. This is a working-and-learning holiday that will make a difference; perhaps mostly to yourself. You will not only participate in a daily work schedule but will also enjoy various lectures and activities to immerse yourself in the running of a wildlife reserve.
This mix includes helping with the maintenance of the facilities, preparing food, feeding animals, bush walks, and learning to track. You will get to experience the Kalahari, not as a tourist, but first-hand, with the locals. In the dry season, sleep out under the skies.
I saw how love changed the world each time it replaced “unloved.” The entire scheme of civilization could be profoundly altered by focusing this power of love at a very specific point. Whenever this happened, history branched out to new roads. David R Hawkins
The volunteer program run at a minimum of two weeks. Or stay for three months. Find more details on Modisa’s volunteer program.
How else can you support Modisa?
Spread the word. Donate. Here are some of the items Modisa needs at the moment – containers, 4×4 Toyota cars, night vision goggles, kitchen knives, kitchen supplies, wood for building, tools, camera traps, solar power systems, tin roofs to collect rain water, canvas tents 3m x 3m, computers, satellite phone, solar powered water heater, fridges, freezers, portable fridges, and tin roofs to collect rain water.
www.Modisa.org | With the Big Cats | Following the Trail of Sirga
In 2015, over the American Thanksgiving weekend, Chris Dubois visited Cambodia with his family – wife Valérie Marin and children Ethan (16) and Lea (14) to support Tabitha Cambodia, a non-profit he has supported for over ten years. Through personal donations and funds from providing concert security, Chris’ friends and volunteer team raised enough money for the building materials.
Chris is passionate about this cause and happily shares how one Canadian lady started this organization years ago because she saw how her own government was backing a murderer. Politics is a strange animal. Tabitha is successful because it works with Cambodians and all the funds go toward the eradication of poverty from the ground up, in the villages, with the people. Chris sees true philanthropy as not only donating money but donating time. And effort.
He also realizes that he has privilege. Even while hammering floors and windows is not hard work, he still gets to return to air conditioning, clean air, and safety that awaits him at home in Singapore. To him, the people doing the real work are the people at Tabitha who spend time to explain to the families why the programs they offer will make a difference to them and their children. Or why anyone even cares. Many villagers have never seen seen a foreigner before one comes on a building trip.
Many people in this world still live in abject poverty. Before they had a tin roof, the villagers lived in what Chris compares to a shanty town, where they live unprotected from the elements and wildlife. The staff have to explain new concepts like saving towards a house, insane and foreign to people who live hand to mouth. So some people get an extra job to put away $1 a month or whatever they can, because they believe.
People are beautiful there. I was very moved and had tears when we handed over the house to the villagers. they were moved too. Valérie Marin
This year, Chris was able to show his family, rather than tell them about what goes on in Cambodia and what he has been supporting. There are “extreme inequalities” and Chris wanted his children to understand how priviledged they are. With a team of 21, Chris’ team built 10 houses in just 1-1/2 days. Tabitha Cambodia lays the fundations and the frame and the volunteers nail the floors and the walls. It is physically demanding work, but a memory to last a lifetime.
It is a joy as a father to share Ethan and Lea’s achievement during a volunteering trip to Cambodia for the benefit of Tabitha Cambodia. In 2015 we all made the trip to change the lives of 10 cambodian families by funding and building 10 houses together with an amazing team of volunteers.
Ethan and Lea showed enthusiasm, dedication, and hard work during the two days of the build, learning how to use a hammer, witnessing the extreme poverty, interacting and playing with the villagers, and realizing that we can make a difference … one nail at a time !
The take-away from this experience will stay with them their entire lives but they also had a good time in the process and are now sharing their experience with their friends and eager to join next year’s trip!
Chris and Valérie are originally from France and have made Singapore their home for nearly 20 years. Valérie is a certified Health Coach and the founder of Live Your Vitality. www.Your-Vitality-Store.com
Operation Refugee Child
Carry The Future is a group of volunteers from around the world, united by the idea of a mom in California who wanted to give baby carriers to the refugees travelling through Europe on foot.
Their first Indiegogo campaign to raise $2500 and fund 100 baby carriers may have started with a simple idea but became viral as contributions poured in. They have raised over $100,000 and collected 10,000+ baby carriers.
Based in Glendale, Carry The Future can always use hands-on help to open and sort boxes and various other tasks. Join the Carry The Future volunteer group.
Whenever I go on a baby carrier distribution trip the hardest thing I face is seeing small children in such horrible and undeserved conditions. As a mom myself, I don’t see them as “refugees” or as “Syrians” or “muslims”. To me they are all just babies, and just like my son, they deserve a safe home, a full stomach and a future as the barest of minimums. Cristal, volunteer
Carry The Future now has an in-demand campaign, Operation Refugee Child, to raise funds for care packages. For $15 you can gift a relief pack with protein bars, Halal beef jerky, nuts, solar blankets, waterproof sleeping bag, battery-free flashlight, socks, and other items. If you are a company, perhaps you would want to sponsor and add to this pack.
According to the UNHCR, about 30% of 9000+ refugees arriving in Greece are children. They have left everything behind and face an uncertain future. So far Carry The Future has provided 5000 baby carriers in Greece.
It is easy to help. $15 for a relief pack or you can donate a new or used structured baby carrier. The address to send the carriers to is 121 W. Lexington Dr. Ste. L 106D, Glendale, CA, 91203 USA. You can also purchase one on the Carry The Future Amazon Wish List.
If you are sending a carrier, please include a note so these families know they are in our thoughts, even as everything crumbles around them. They are not alone and we can rebuild a beautiful future. Other things to include – plush toys, protein bars, hats and mittens for children.
What would you want a child to have?
Vajra Varahi Healthcare Clinic
As part of the Chokgyur Lingpa Foundation, the Vajra Varahi Healthcare Clinic was inspired by Kyabgön Phakchok Rinpoche to put “Compassion Into Action.” Even though this is a Buddhist foundation, the healthcare programs and all volunteer work are secular. It is about service and compassion. This is where Kaylin Toh regularly volunteers at. This year she was in Nepal for the annual Dental and Medical Camps. Due to the location and landscape, delivery of medical care to many villagers in more remote areas is unreliable. Each year, since 2006, these camps have been bringing healthcare via TCM, Homeopathy, Ayurveda, and other healing modalities to different far-flung regions and “outposts” of Nepal by practitioners and volunteers from different countries, different faiths, and different languages, showing that love, compassion, and human kindness transcend difference.
To help with making ongoing healthcare accessible, the foundation also supports a Tibetan Medicine Program. This seven-year training, open to laypeople and nuns and monks, includes learning how to make medicine, allowing a practical and sustainable approach to local healthcare.
There are many ways you can help – donating and sponsoring these programs or volunteering. Visit the Vajra Varahi Healthcare Clinic website to find out more.
For me peace on earth is peace with the earth, and its caregivers. It’s that simple, which is very complicated it seems.
Alana Lea, founder of iGiveTrees
iGiveTrees is giving renewed hope, for the Mata Atlantica.
To restore the endangered Atlantic Brazilian rainforest, from the seed up, iGiveTrees is crowdfunding to build native species tree nurseries that will gift trees to rural families who need them. Since 2010, more than 5,000 organically-grown trees have been given to residents of the Vale do Paraiba in São Paulo state, in Vale do Paraiba. The 2016 efforts will begin growing and giving trees in the state of Rio de Janeiro as well.
This rainforest renewal project helps to sink carbon in support of global climate stabilization, while rebuilding nature’s biodiversity. Native forests invite back the wildlife that is essential to the health of the ecosystem.
The goal of the current crowdfunding efforts is to replant 1,500 acres with 1,000,000 native species trees. Rejuvenating the Brazilian rainforest benefits not only the local areas but the entire planet, since rainforests serve as the lungs of the world.
Founder of iGive Trees, Alana was moved to action when she realized much of the Brazilian Rainforest has turned into barren land from deforestation for coffee and pulpwood plantations.She works specifically with small local NGOs that are not constrained by politics and is currently crowdfunding for a nursery to replant the rainforest and to gift local trees to rural families. www.iGiveTrees.com