Though it’s no easy thing to visit a developing country, people often do. There are hundreds of non-profit and religious organizations who often sponsor service-oriented trips, which will dump a group of big-hearted travelers in the thick of it for a week or two and send them back home. Though occasionally these trips produce a type of immediate good, they often seem to be intended more for the traveler and less the traveled-to. The dust settles, the missioneer feels a sense of worth and accomplishment back in their homeland, but what does the native in the developing country have left but a newfound desire to wonder what life might be like ‘over there?’
Enter stuffyourrucksack.com, one of the Daily Mail’s websites of the week and the brainchild of English television presenter and personality Kate Humble. While most of TV’s recognizable faces are off cavorting with those of their own, Humble asked ”How many times have you been travelling and visited a school or community or local charity that you would love to help?” And she answered in the most simple and practical way possible: bring some extra stuff you know the community might need, and leave it there with them. You don’t have to negotiate tax deductions, receipts, 1-800 numbers, or postcards with teary-eyed faces. Stuffyourrucksack is more an idea and less an organization, and these days when a lot of people earn salaries working for ‘non-profits,’ having an idea so practical and simple to do leaves the traveler accomplished and the community better equipped.
Matadorchange.com has a well-written profile on the birth and impact of Humble’s program, and there are other reports on the web already promoting the success of the program. Some of the gifts have been as simple as a teddy bear and a mosquito net in Angola to clothes and coloring books in Namibia. While everyone visiting these countries isn’t qualified to be a doctor or teacher, kindness is something everyone can achieve, and really the task is as simple as bringing something to someone in need. And if you can’t bring something over the border? But it once you’re there. If you’re traveling, it’s likely you have the money to buy a box of pens and a few notebooks.
The website has a ‘where you can help’ section, and has listed the hundreds of organizations who are looking for particular supplies. Some have needs more urgent than others, but if it really is as simple as brining a football, then bring a football, and leave something positive behind besides a good memory.
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