If you know me or have been reading this blog for a while you will know that:
- I am a co-founder of the Passports with Purpose charity.
- Passports with Purpose is the travel bloggers annual fundraiser.
- In 2011, Passports with Purpose raised $90,000 for Room To Read.
- This money was used to build two libraries in rural villages in Zambia.
This May, through the generous support of Expedia.com, I and two of the other Passports with Purpose co-founders will be traveling to Zambia to attend the opening ceremony of one of these libraries. I am, quite honestly, shocked that this is happening. In the usual order of things, movie-stars, politicians and billionaires get flown around the world for on-site visits to events like this. Normal people like me, a volunteer who became involved in Passports with Purpose because I’m passionate about Haves helping Have-nots, do not.
Am I excited? Yes! Of course I’m excited. So excited that since Expedia decided to support Passports with Purpose in this way I’ve had to actively push all thoughts of the trip out of my mind just to have any hope of focusing at work every day. But, every so often the sheer thrill of knowing this was happening could bubble up inside. In the past week or two I’m sure my co-workers were wondering why I was sitting at my desk staring into middle distance with a silly grin on my face. They should be glad I was only smiling because there were many times that I felt like dancing. Doing Riverdance in my sedate and serious Google office would certainly have left many people wondering if I truly had lost my marbles.
At any rate…
I will be going to Zambia with Beth Whitman (wanderlustandlipstick.com) and Debbie Dubrow (deliciousbaby.com). Expedia, a travel company, is supporting us as travel bloggers who represent all the travel bloggers without whom Passports with Purpose would not be possible. I am incredulous, humble, appreciative and excited all at once.
I am also nervous.
Nervous because last year, when my family and I were in Cambodia I attended the opening ceremony of the school funded by Passports with Purpose in 2009. (You can read my trip report here). At this event we were greeted by an honor guard of the 100 or so students from the elementary and middle school in that village on the Thai-Cambodian border. I met the first class of middle-schoolers at the school, kids who are now able to stay in school beyond 5th grade because of The Passports School. The school principal explained in detail how having access to three more years of school will be a life-changing benefit for all the children in this village. I had to fight back tears.
It’s one thing to be in Seattle, furiously answering emails from participating bloggers, staying up late managing administrivia before, during and after the fundraising event. It’s thrilling to see the donations come in and plain good fun to notify prize-winners. It’s entirely another thing to stand on the ground by the school, village or library built using those donations. To stand, in a rural, muddy village with no running water and wrap your head around the impact of what you’ve done. It’s an emotional, visceral experience. It’s a raw powerful experience.
In Cambodia I fought back the tears. I wasn’t prepared. In Zambia I’ll be prepared. I’ll be packing boxes of tissues.
Thank you Expedia and thank you again to all the travel bloggers who have participated in Passports with Purpose.
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Beautifully written, Michelle. And I’m doing a Riverdance in my seat for you right now!
This is so exciting. You all deserve every bit of it because you made something really amazing in Passports with Purpose. I was proud to be even a teeny tiny part of it. It’s great work that you do!
So proud and thrilled for you, Michelle! It’s simply amazing.
Hey Michelle I hope you all had a wonderful trip, you are all doing great things and the effects of the libraries will forever changes the communities in Zambia. Where in Zambia did you go?
Keep up the amazing work.