GIVING BACK TO THE COMMUNITIES WE VISIT
While The Divine Destination Collection co-founders Deb Niven and Allison Frame work hard to create flawless travel adventures that combine luxury and adventure with a touch of the spiritual – they also try to find effective ways to give back to the communities they visit, especially in economically challenged areas.
“We get so much out of visiting these amazing destinations that we are committed to leaving a positive impact everywhere The Divine Destination Collection travels,” says Allison.
That positive impact can take many forms. For example, when The Divine Destination Collection travelled to South Africa, the group brought along two huge hockey bags full of school supplies with their luggage.
The supplies were for Tongabezi Trust School in Zambia, which provides education to underprivileged children in the rural area of Simonga. The school receives no government funding and relies solely on private donations.
As part of their itinerary, the entire group visited the school and had the chance to meet the children and see first-hand what an impact their donation made.
SUPPORTING THE LOCAL ECONOMY
“We also learned a valuable lesson,” says Allison. “It almost cost more to transport the supplies from Canada than the total value of the supplies. We realized it made more sense to buy the items at the local destination. That way we could spend all our money on the donation, instead of delivery costs, and also support the local economy.”
So when The Divine Destination Collection visited the city of Cusco on their way to see Machu Picchu in Peru, they bought a variety of local items, such as pajamas and shoes, to donate to the San Judas Chico Girls Orphanage, a home for girls aged 4 to 16.
“The girls sang for us when we arrived,” says Allison. “It was very emotional. The girls were so appreciative.”
After Cusco, the group went on a four-night cruise down the Amazon River, where they brought along dental kits full of toothpaste and toothbrushes, as well as soccer balls and dolls, to give to a local rural Amazon community.
“Everything has to be transported by barge, so it’s hard for people living in the area to get supplies,” says Allison.
A LITTLE HELP FROM OUR DMC
In Bali, supporting a local orphanage was again part of the itinerary, where our travellers donated 42 school bags filled with supplies, as well as a printer, cases of paper, and cleaning supplies.
“Our local DMC [Destination Management Company] told us about the orphanage and we were able to find out exactly what they needed.”
In fact, Allison and Deb often look to the DMC they are working with to find impactful ways to make a contribution to charities in each country. These donations are included in the price of the trip, so each guest knows they are making a difference.
But sometimes a donation occurs by happenstance.
Before leaving for Mexico, one of Allison’s contacts in Toronto mentioned that they had some kid’s soccer uniforms they wanted to give away. “So I took jerseys, shorts, and socks with me on our trip to Mexico and gave them to students in a rural Mayan community.”
HELPING PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT
Besides striving to make a positive impact on the lives of the people in the countries they visit, The Divine Destination Collection also tries to incorporate sustainability practices into their travel and activities.
“The recent flooding in Venice is just one of the latest devastating effects of climate change,” says Allison. “As concerned global citizens, we want to try to protect the environment and lessen our impact as much as we can.”
For their trip along the El Camino in Spain, no plastic water bottles were allowed. Everyone was given their own Divine Destination Collection water bottle and could fill it up from glass containers set up at all the refreshment and lunch stops along the trail.
“We were committed to leaving no plastic footprint,” says Allison.
For the upcoming June 2020 trip to the South of France, all the hotels and vehicles were selected with the environment in mind. “We wanted to stay in hotels that have sustainability programs in place, and travel in greener vehicles whenever possible. The local DMC we are working with in France is really into sustainability. That’s one of the reasons we chose them,” says Allison.
“Our goal is to leave each destination a little bit better than we found it to show our appreciation for allowing us to visit.”
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