The purpose of travel
We travel for different purposes – business, pleasure, educational, and many other reasons. However not many have gone to travel for a more “meaningful” purpose; and I mean, in a philanthropic way. More than just meeting people, visiting other places, tasting different food, understanding varied cultures, or learning new things; to travel with a cause to serve creates a different spark. Leaving a piece of yourself by way of sharing what you have to people of different races and cultures makes even your shortest trips meaningful and memorable.
A willing and compassionate heart, not an impressive bank account, is what it takes to be an accomplished philanthropic traveller. Even a penniless wanderer like Alexander Supertramp managed to share something out of nothing, by sharing his thoughts, learnings and skills and being compassionate to people he met along his solitary sojourn. Philanthropy doesn’t entail money, for money isn’t the only thing we have to give. Sharing means giving people what you have or a part of what you have, tangible or not, however big or small, without condition, for the purpose of helping them live better lives.
Anyone with a sound mind and body is capable of sharing himself to the world. In this era of high technology, one can sit in a corner and explore places as far as beyond the outer space, at least virtually. The need for help and the act of helping and reaching out to those in need can be established virtually.
Yet, for the passionate adventurer, there’s still no match for actual and real-life journeys and encounters. As a self-dependent travel junkie who has travelled mostly for socio-cultural reasons, I deliberately and joyfully got myself into mashing up travelling and participating in socio-cultural causes as one epic hobby, with much determination despite a decrepit wallet.
Pure volunteerism: more than just living is living to serve
“There’s nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer,” a real, life-long volunteer and war hero once said.
As a volunteer for years, I couldn’t agree more. Yes, it takes courage and compassion to be doing something for others, without claim to financial or any material compensation. Sometimes you even have to dig out your own cash to give to those you’re helping, or worse, sacrifice your job. A volunteer must be ready to make sacrifices to live up to his cause.
The first time I got into voluntary service by joining the Red Cross Youth Sector, I thought it would be a one-time thing and just another point to my extracurricular credits in school. However, I felt an insatiable sense of fullfilment that got me participating in future outreach activities, fund-raising events, basic life support trainings, seminars and conventions that brought me to places and led me to meet inspiring people and experience life-changing events.
After years of battling the ups and downs of being a volunteer who loves travel and adventure, I have come to affirm that:
“I don’t serve to travel, I travel to serve.”
“To whom much is given, much is expected.”
In a societal sense, we can take this biblical quote to mean that the more skills and possessions we have, the more we should be contributing for better changes and improvements in various aspects and areas of our society.
If you are a talented artist who’s also fond of traveling, why not travel and at the same time use your skills to spread or promote a good cause? Going on week-long volunteer holidays that let you share your artistic skills to people in remote locations will be worth your time, effort and money. Being good at something is not for the superficial purpose of showing off. It’s better and much more fulfilling to attach a deeper purpose to any skill you’re good at and share it to inspire people around the world.
There’s this person I personally know who loves to travel and tries to use the many skills she’s gifted with to take on social responsibilities. As an aspiring musician, writer and painter, she actively participates in benefit concerts and health and environmental programs, totally pro bono. She travels to perform in benefit theatrical shows even if it meant canceling professional stints. As she does short volunteer work overseas, her motivation is the uplifting fullfilment she gets as a volunteer. Being one of those who have experienced abuse in their childhood, she continues to be an advocate of the usage of music and the arts as tools to inspire the youth and empower them to effect better changes in our society.
To travel with a cause is to give value to humanity and to one’s self
The more you do unconditional service for others, the more you see yourself in a better light. As we help others, we also help ourselves in aspects concerning self-esteem, self-respect, emotional awareness and mental growth. As travellers, the meaningful volunteer holidays we spend, our intercontinental hopping and interracial acquaintances are building blocks of bridges in the unending journey of bettering ourselves.
Here’s a constant reminder to all who travel for humanitarian causes: “Keep doing what you’re doing, and see the world differently, in a good way. Continue your selfless acts like humanity depends on it, even if your deeds remain unsung. The value you give to your fellows will come back to you a thousandfold.”
By Debra Wright
Debra Wright is a creative online writer who supplies cyberspace with interesting and informative write-ups about her favorite topics including volunteer travel. A wide reader and ardent web surfer, she believes she can do anything as long as she has an Internet connection.