Travel with Purpose

This past weekend I worked at the Go Global Expo with my employer, helping to advertise our work and volunteer abroad programs, our student discount card program (that’s me!) and general travel services. During some downtime I wandered around and came across the booth for Habitat for Humanity Canada/Global Village and was immediately drawn in.

I’ve been wanting to do a Habitat project in New Orleans for a few years now, but always put it on the back burner because life just simply got in the way. Seeing how I’m making a concentrated effort to challenge myself and to finally do things I’ve always said I would, I decided right then and there that 2013 will be my volunteer year.

Habitat’s Global Village has projects throughout the world, helping to build homes for impoverished families in Ethiopia, Zambia, Nepal, India, Cambodia, New Zealand, Thailand, Louisiana, Hawaii, Chile, Honduras, Nicaragua, Trinidad & Tobago, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Guatemala. Ideally, I would love to participate in a build in each country, doing one a year. However, I’m considering volunteering for two projects in 2013.

Like I’ve mentioned a few times throughout this blog so far, I love New Orleans. I absolutely love that city. When Katrina hit I was devasted. Up to 2005 I never had the chance to visit NOLA, so I never experienced the city pre-storm. When I finally visited in 2009 we were staying near the French Quarter — an area which was saved from the flooding for the most part. I could see remnants of flood damage on our way out of the city from the highway, but other than that it seemed like nothing had happened (not including a wickedly toxic drink I got on Bourbon Street called “the Hurricane” — don’t drink it folks.). I know a short stay in the city would never give a visitor a geniune impression of what it was like for residents during the storm and throughout the aftermath, but seeing the images and knowing what they went through has created a lasting desire for me to go back and help with the rebuild. I even got a permanent momento on that trip as a reminder to always go back — a fleur de lis tattoo on my wrist that I see everyday and cherish because it reminds me of the greatness of that city.

With that said, I’ve decided that it’s time for me to finally go back. I found out from one of the Habitat volunteers at the expo that there’s going to be another Louisiana project in March of 2013. As soon as she told me, all I heard in my head was “Yup! Done. Sign me up!” and I knew it was finally going to happen. These Habitat trips cost more than an all-inclusive one-week stay in the Caribbean, but I know it will mean more to me to be there and help build homes for families in need than a week on a beach somewhere.

On top of the Louisiana project I’m going to also try to volunteer for a project in New Zealand or Hawaii. This is my reasoning for a second trip: my best friend is currently attending Med school in Australia and has been there for some years now. Since this past summer we’ve been talking about meeting somewhere in between Melbourne and Toronto, so I figure if I put myself in that general part of the world for a Habitat build it would be easy for her and I to get together for a little vacation. Plus, it’s New Zealand or Hawaii, two countries that are on my list of places to visit. What more could I ask for?

I’m going to have to buckle down and start saving for these trips, plus try to figure out some fundraising ideas that I could implement to help with costs, but I’m ready. And I’m very excited for this opportunity to do good, make right and travel with purpose.

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