Why give back? One travel blogger’s perspective

Posted on | November 21, 2012 | No Comments

Barbara Weibel of Hole in the DonutWe recently asked some of our bloggers to share why they participate in Passports With Purpose and found ourselves engaged in a longer conversation with Barbara Weibel who publishes Hole in the Donut Cultural Travel. We loved what she had to say about giving back, and are so pleased that she agreed to share it with you here. Thanks Barbara.

The issue of giving back is a thorny subject for me. Maybe it’s just because I’m getting older, but over the past few years I’ve looked back over my life and found it lacking in philanthropic efforts. I spent years in corporate life making lots of money but never volunteered or helped those in desperate need. When late-night TV commercials broadcast pictures of starving children in Africa I told myself that donations to developing countries rarely made it to those they sought to help. And I ignored solicitations from well-known charitable organizations, certain that much too high a percentage of their revenues were allocated to administrative costs.

At the height of my unhappiness – with my life, my job, my greediness – I contracted a serious disease and considered the possibility that I might die without doing any of the things I had always wanted to do. I promised myself that, if I recovered, I would walk away from everything to pursue what I love: travel, writing and photography. A year later, fully recovered, I did just that. Unfortunately, I did so at the height of the real estate crash and lost everything – all those years of work with nothing to show.To assuage my guilty conscience, I dropped a handful of coins into the Salvation Army bucket at Christmas, donated clothes to Goodwill, and allowed my company to automatically deduct a small amount from each paycheck for Children’s Miracle Network. Inwardly, I condemned my greed, but fear that I would not have enough money to retire comfortably was a much stronger master.

Strangely, the loss of material possessions was freeing. I loved my new life and even though I had to scrape nickels together to stay on the road I started looking for ways to give back. I researched local NGO’s but found many of them to be corrupt; instead I settled for helping individuals I met during my travels. I knew there had to be worthy charities but when it came to choosing which to support I floundered, lacking both ability and time to vet the myriad organizations. Thankfully, Passports with Purpose has provided me with the ideal solution. Not only do I have complete confidence that their annual beneficiaries are fully researched, I take great delight in the fact that this effort is mounted and carried out through the joint efforts of travel writers.

Recently, I answered a request for quotes about why people support PwP. I commented, “I’m still struggling with shame about how little I did during the days when I could have really made a difference. What I do now is so small, but at least it’s something.” One of the Passports With Purpose foundersBeth Whitman emailed me back, saying, “What you do now is NOT small. Like snowflakes – it all adds up. I mean, this thing happens in $10 increments, you know? The vast majority of our funds come in that way. It’s all important.” She is right, of course.

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