Blog Entries

Travelanthropy: People Who Travel Good (Part I)

Thursday, May 09, 2013
Photo Credit: @DeSuMama
I have wanted to start this series for a long time now.  I even pitched it to a national online magazine (and I'm not big on blind pitching either).  I had previously taken a stab at sharing the works of humanitarian bloggers on Thoughtful Thursdays, but stopped.  Since I never heard back from the magazine I pitched to (not even a no-thank-you-very-much-maam-and-of-course-we-promise-not-to-use-your-idea-ourselves), I figured I might as well just get my own travelanthropy party started.  After all, I DO have a blog, I have often had to remind myself. Besides, as a traveler + giver I know there are a bunch of other travelers + givers too, and I think everyone should know about them, don't you? 

In this new series Travelanthropy: People Who Travel Good (which has a format similar to my Black Women Expatriates series), I'm going to introduce you to some of the travelers + givers I run in to from time to time both in real life and on the Web.  I think they're fantastic and I bet you will too.

Meet Ruby.

Photo Credit: @AThinkinTravelr
I met Ruby on my Facebook page. I saw her photo in my Newsfeed and asked her to post it on #BrownGirlsGive. She was at a Global Climate Change rally in DC that marched to the White House. Ruby was 1 of 30,000 who got out that day.

Name: Ruby Melton
Age: 27
Location: Pomfret, Maryland
Occupation: Contractor, National Institutes of Health - Department of Human & Health Services
Age When You Got Your First Passport: 26
Languages: English, Spanish (Beginner, Conversational)

Bio: Ruby Melton has a B.S. in Business Management and is an avid explorer, volunteer, adventure seeker, and photographer. She is TEFL Certified and is currently transitioning from a life in the corporate world to a life where she can serve others, travel and run her own photography business location-independent. Her additional hobbies include creating videos, photographing weddings and newborns, rafting down class 5 rapids, and jumping out of airplanes.

Tell us about your last volunteer vacation: I signed up to volunteer to teach English through International Volunteeer HQ based in New Zealand. They are partnered with a local agency in Costa Rica called Maximo Nivel (Maximum Level). I spent one week teaching English and serving the community of San Pedro at the Hogar PANI Orphanage.

Hogar PANI Orphanage
Photo Credit: @AThinkinTravelr

Tell us about your first volunteer experience (travel or otherwise): My first earnest volunteer experience was in 2010 with D.R.E.A.M.Life, Inc. (Delivering Resources to Empower A Mothers Life) in Washington, D.C. where I was the Communications Director. 

Tell us about your next travel + volunteer experience: My next volunteer exposure will be in Cuzco, Peru in September 2013. I will be participating in the Teach English program for one week through International Volunteer HQ.

Best and Worst thing about volunteer travel: The worst thing is that the volunteer has no input on where they are placed and is somewhat going in blind not truly knowing what to expect. The best thing is that through the experience of not fully knowing your placement, you learn to let go and enjoy the opportunity to the fullest and adapt in ways you never knew you could.

Advice for those that want to travel + give: Find the right agency and program and narrow it down to a particular region that's right for you. Choose something that you would love doing without getting paid and is close to your heart and also easy on the finances. Prepare yourself mentally and spiritually because volunteering in less fortunate parts of the world call for the volunteer to be strong-willed, opened-minded and very adaptable. Do what you have to do to make it happen; if that's raising the funds to afford the trip, then don't give up until you've reached your goal and always do your best.

Why you travel + give:  I travel because the world is too diverse to only see a fraction of it and because it opens my mind to different ways of living. I volunteer because I want to assist those who are less fortunate. Half of the world's population is living on less than $2 a day and I want to do whatever I can to help them help themselves and secure a better future for their families and generations to come. The world can be cold and very unfair; I want to change that.

Favorite travel quote: "A woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before." ~Albert Einstein


Meet Dana.
Dana Carmel with girls from the Para Ti School in Rio de Janeiro's Vila Canoas favela
Photo Credit: @TimeTravelPlans
I'm still figuring out Google+, but I found Dana there, so I must be doing something right. I wasn't even looking that hard, and there she was.  I saw her travelanthropy post in my feed and shot her an email and here we are. She's from my home town. #random Technology rocks.

Name: Dana Carmel
Age: 32
Location: Los Angeles, California
Occupation: Contracts management
Age When You Got Your First Passport: 3
Languages: English, survival Spanish

Bio: Daughter of an Air Force dad, Dana Carmel moved to Panama when she was three years old where she lived for three and a half years before her family returned to the U.S. A world traveler, cultural explorer, and a frequent volunteer both in Los Angeles and abroad, Dana works as a full-time corporate professional.

Tell us about your last volunteer vacation: My husband Jave and I traveled to Vancouver BC in December 2012 where we spent half a day preparing and serving lunch to residents of the Salvation Army’s Belkin House, a shelter and transitional housing facility that provides meals and career/educational workshops to help the homeless transition from life off of the streets. The experience drove home the reality of how big the homeless problem really is.

Dana volunteering at Salvation Army's Belkin House
Photo Credit: @TimeTravelPlans

Tell us about your first volunteer experience (travel or otherwise): I volunteered as a child both in Girl Scouts and at church. In 2008, I volunteered with LA Works doing everything from homeless feedings, wheelchair refurbishing, dog walking, beach cleanups, etc. My first volunteer experience abroad was in 2009 in the Dominican Republic for Passporters Expeditions (PE) - a company my husband and I helped build with my brother - working on a neighborhood beautification project with the Dream Project in Cabarete where we spent the day painting a neighborhood baseball diamond side-by-side with a local youth baseball team.

Tell us about your next travel + volunteer experience: In December, we will travel to Tanzania for Passporters Expedition 2013 where our first stop will be in the Moshi/Kilimanjaro region at Art in Tanzania, an NGO founded to support local artists who don’t have the resources to develop their talent. We will throw a holiday-themed party for local orphans and street kids, so we’re looking forward to it!

Best and Worst thing about volunteer travel: The worst thing is that most volunteer travel organizations charge a hefty fee and volunteers have to pay their own travel expenses making volunteer travel seem out of reach, so I seek out my own opportunities. The best thing is that volunteer travel provides an opportunity to form relationships with locals who you might not otherwise have a chance to connect with in such a meaningful way.

Advice for those that want to travel + give: Start with a short term project so you don’t feel completely overwhelmed. Volunteers are more productive and motivated giving on their own terms. If you work full time, travel during paid holidays and spend no more than a day or two volunteering so that you still have plenty of time to explore and enjoy the destination. 

Why you travel + give:  Travel used to be about collecting passport stamps and seeing sites, but I wanted it to be more purposeful, and giving back to local communities is the best way to have a purposeful travel experience. Volunteering creates a bond with locals as most are quick to embrace travelers who are genuinely interested and concerned about uplifting their communities.

Favorite travel quote: “Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard


Use your voice for kindness,
your ears for compassion,
your hands for charity,
your mind for truth,
and your heart for love.

Don't forget to show your love by liking Ruby and Dana's blogs and this post, because these two givers are definitely showing their love, that's for sure. And if you know a traveler + giver worthy of a travelanthropy profile, shoot me an email.

And so do the people who love us. =)

#BrownGirlsGive is on Facebook.



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