04 March 2013 by Julienne du Toit

Pack for a Purpose

Packing for a trip and social upliftment are not usually concepts that coexist. But if you pack right, you can make a real difference. Small space. Little effort. Big impact.

Bushmans Kloof in the Cederberg is part of the Pack for a Purpose initiative

Americans Scott and Rebecca Rothney came on their first visit to Africa more than 10 years ago. They were instantly addicted. On their second trip they realised their luggage allowance from the airline was way more than they needed. They contacted the lodge where they would be staying and asked if anything was needed for a nearby little school.

It could be hundreds of pencils, or a blood pressure cuff, stethoscopes and plasters, or several deflated soccer balls and an inflation device.

After an enthusiastic response, the Rothneys brought over nearly 65kg of school supplies, including many deflated soccer balls. The supplies were so gratefully received that they asked fellow travellers and friends to do the same on their trips. In this way ordinary travellers began transporting medical supplies, clothing and school stationery on their trips to Africa and all around the world.

But they were in the minority. A travel agent made the remark that very few people make use of their excess luggage allowances to do this. So Scott and Rebecca set up a global organisation and website called Pack for a Purpose. 'Small space. Little effort. Big impact,' they say.

As little as 2kg can make a big difference – it could be hundreds of pencils, or a blood pressure cuff, stethoscopes and plasters, or several deflated soccer balls and an inflation device. But each involved destination can advise you on what is really needed.

In poor rural schools out in the country, stationery and books are deeply appreciated. Image Chris Marais

In South Africa, the Red Carnations Hotels – the Oyster Box in Durban, Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa in Cape Town, and Bushman’s Kloof Wilderness Reserve and Retreat in the Cederberg mountains – have joined the initiative.

Each one of them has a project it supports. In the case of Bushmans Kloof, it’s the nearby Elizabethfontein Primary School. The Oyster Box supports the Lungisisa Indlela Village Initiative to help vulnerable children, and the Twelve Apostles Hotel supports the Amy Biehl Foundation with its development programmes in poor communities.

Category: Responsible Tourism

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