Category: Passports with Purpose

UPDATED: Win 2 tickets to the Tournament of Roses Parade, hotel & more!


UPDATE: The sponsor (YMT Vacations) has extended the offer to be redeemable for EITHER this year (December 30, 2011 – January 3, 2012) OR next year (December 29, 2012 – January 2, 2013), so you can take your pick and plan ahead! 

It’s that time of year, when Passports With Purpose conducts the annual fundraiser organized by travel bloggers that raises money for deserving non-profits throughout the world. It’s a wonderful way to give back to the places we, as travelers, visit.

This year, Room to Read was chosen as the 2011 beneficiary of Passports with Purpose. The goal is to raise $80,000 to build two libraries in southern and eastern Zambia. Wow, that sounds ambitious, right? After last year’s target of $50,000 was surpassed by over 25% and an entire village was built in India in partnership with Friends of LAFTI, clearly this community of travel bloggers and PWP founders are not content to rest on any laurels.  We love to travel, we love to blog about it, we love reading blogs, we love reading books, and we can’t imagine what our lives would be without the gift of reading. But perhaps above all, we love the idea of bringing the gift of reading to others.
In my last post, I shared the story of how I found the room to read on the floor of an orphanage in Calcutta, with children climbing all over my lap to stare at the words on the pages and listen to my voice. I realized right then and there just how powerful the gift of reading can be, and I hope that you will take just a moment to share in my reading with purpose.

Read it? Good. Now you’re set with inspiration to help make a difference, too. And that means, it’s time to talk prizes!

Here’s how it works:
Each participant blogger provides a prize and blogs about it. You can find the complete list of the prizes at Passports With Purpose website. Between now and December 16, 2011, for each $10 in donations that you make to Room to Read, you will be entered to win the prize (or prizes) of your choice.

Thanks to the generous folks at YMT Vacations, whom I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the past year, I am thrilled to present….


5-Day Tournament of Roses Parade and Los Angeles Tour

 Tour Includes  (for 2 people)

  • 4 nights accommodations based on twin/double occupancy in a luxurious Los Angeles Airport area hotel.
  • Rose Parade viewing from reserved Grand Stand seats, complimentary YMT seat cushion & an official Rose Parade program.
  • Exclusive evening of behind the scenes float viewing at the Pasadena Rosemont Pavilion.
  • Los Angeles City tour including Beverly Hills, Mann’s Chinese Theatre, & the home of the Academy Awards, the Kodak Theatre.
  • The service of a professionally trained and accredited tour driver/guide who is licensed, bonded, and insured. 
  • Baggage handling for one 50-lb. bag p/p.
  • Taxes and Fees of $149 per/person.

    Tour Dates:  December 30, 2011 – January 3, 2012 OR December 29,  2012 – January 2, 2013

    Tour starts and ends in Los Angeles, California

    Important Stuff:

    * The Rose Parade only happens once a year, so this prize is only valid for either of the dates indicated: December 30, 2011 – January 3, 2012 OR December 29, 2012 through January 2, 2013
    *Airfare to and from Los Angeles is NOT included, and is sole responsibility of winner.

    So, what are you waiting for? Head on over to Passports With Purpose Donation Page to make your $10 donation via paypal and enter to win before midnight, December 16, 2011.  Winners will be announced on December 23, 2011.  Good luck!

    Reading with Purpose

     Earlier this year, I had a very powerful experience that has stayed with me, and the story of which ties in beautifully with the focus of this year’s Passports With Purpose fundraiser.

    It all happened in Calcutta, India, when I went to Mother Teresa’s Ashram.  No words can describe the overwhelming emotional impact of visiting not only the Ashram itself, but the nearby orphanage established by Mother Teresa.  In her words, it is a refuge for…

    “The hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone.” — Mother Teresa
    Before entering the orphanage, the nuns laid out one simple rule:  “please don’t pick them up.”

    I stepped into a room where knee-high children with big brown eyes surrounded me, reaching their arms up to me, longing desperately to be held and carried.  This was tough. I wanted to hold them, to touch them, to love them, to let them know they were loved.  I wanted to smother them with affection and motherly care. I wanted to embrace them.  But I could not pick them up!

    How was I going to engage with them? What could I do to connect without attachment?

    I stood dazed and numb for a moment, towering over them. Then, one child came forward with something in his hand. It was a book.

    From his hand to mine, a book. 

    I looked over at the nuns were sitting on the only bench in the room.  They did not move to make room for me; so, taking the book from the child’s hand, I sat down on the floor right where I stood.  The kids climbed onto my lap and leaned over my shoulders and touched my hair and watched my face as I was able to engage and connect with them without ever picking one up. The nuns lost sight of me as I was engulfed in a sea of curious children, and there in my hand, a book.

    This was an undertaking not for the weak of heart, and all I could think about was finding my strength in compassion and focusing on the power of love. Pure love. The Mother Teresa kind of love – love for all, and attachment to none. Because I was so moved by the emotional investment these children placed in me when I sat amongst them, I had to focus that love on one thing. The book.

    Fortunately, it was a basic board book, with only one word on each page.  BALL. CAR. BOY. GIRL. And so on.

    I read each page as if I were reading a love letter. With each word, there was a little drawing to illustrate it, but when I read the word, there was only meaning. LOVE.  Word by word, page by page, I read, and the children listened. I read, and the children watched. I read…and the children felt loved.

    I somehow made it out without adopting a dozen children – although not without shedding a dozen tears. Photography was not permitted in the orphanage and I would have left the camera anyway.  These children just wanted to be loved. And read to.

    So there I found my own little room to read on the floor of an orphanage in Calcutta.  At that moment more than any other in my life, I realized the incredible power of the gift of reading. 

    By sharing my story, I hope that you will be inspired to share the gift of reading wherever you are, and wherever you go, in your travels and in life. To that end, please join me in the annual Passports With Purpose travel blogger fundraiser, kicking off on November 30.  The goal is to build two libraries in Zambia. 

    Where to start? Keep reading! Check out these 2011 blogger participants who use their gift of writing so that others may know the gift of reading. Be inspired by words, and purposeful in action. Let’s do this!

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