One of the many unique things about WorldVentures is its commitment to making a genuine difference in the world. Voluntours are travel adventures with a social purpose.
One of the many unique things about WorldVentures™ is its commitment to making a genuine difference in the world. When Mike Azcue and Wayne Nugent founded WorldVentures six years ago, they set out to create a special kind of company - a company with a great product, solid business opportunity - but also a company with a big heart. To that aim, in May 2010, encouraged by the field, the company launched the Manifest Foundation, a registered 501c3 aimed at serving social needs around the world by helping the most vulnerable among us - children. Thus far, the foundation has funded projects that provide water purification systems in Latin America and Africa, computers for Third World classrooms, and vocational training and microloans for mothers in Africa. Working with grassroots partners like Hug It Forward, WorldVentures volunteers have helped build "bottle schools" (structures built out of plastic soda bottles filled with inorganic trash to create "eco-bricks") in Latin American villages.
It has been my great privilege to be the steward of Mike and Wayne's vision as executive director of the foundation for the past two years. I am very proud of how much we have already accomplished; very excited by how much more we can and plan to do.
Recently, I had the good fortune to develop and lead another of the company's "voluntourism" excursions. As the name implies, voluntours are travel adventures with a social purpose, in this case a team of 15 WorldVentures volunteers from three continents traveled in September to Kenya to help an orphanage in the slum village of Degorretti in Nairobi become self-sufficient. We brought three clean water systems, and built a chicken coop to house 100 chickens. All this not only provides clean drinking water and food for the orphans, but establishes a sustainable income source, as thousands of villagers now have convenient access to clean water. Lack of clean water is one of the most serious problems facing the developing world, particularly in Kenya, where abject poverty and deprivation is the norm, where most people live on less than $2 per day, and where containable diseases such as AIDS continue to tragically ravage families.
Our work in Degorretti centered on an amazing and inspiring place called the Lighthouse Grace Orphanage. The orphanage is home to 60 children and provides schooling to another 100 students every day. The home was well-named - despite the poverty and desperate lack of resources, grace was in abundance everywhere at this oasis amidst the squalor. Founded and led by an amazing woman named Regina Ngige, the orphanage is a beacon of hope to the entire community. I can still see the beautiful beaming faces of children who despite living on usually one meal a day of maize or rice, and having no access to clean sanitation or a health aid when they feel sick, are positive and hopeful about their lives. When you ask them if they have a dream, they all say, "Yes," and are eager to tell you. It was an honor to make a difference in their community; installing the water filtration systems will change many lives in Degorretti forever. Of course, speaking for all the WorldVentures voluntourists, I can safely say that our lives were also changed on that trip: it is impossible not to be transformed by the experience. One such transformation was shared by International Marketing Director, Matt Morris about a week after the trip, saying, "A surprising, and noticeable change for me is in my parenting. I made pancakes for breakfast the other day and my daughter said she didn't want them, but wanted eggs instead. In the past, I would have probably just made her the eggs. But this time, I asked her, 'What do the children at Grace eat?' She replied, 'Rice, Daddy,' and proceeded to happily eat her pancakes without any fuss."
That's the power of voluntourism and the generous spirit behind WorldVentures' Manifest Foundation. It is a rare organization that really walks the walk - we can all be proud to be associated with a company that actively practices its values every day. If you'd like to contribute, volunteer or participate in an upcoming voluntourism opportunity, please do not hesitate to visit our website manifestfoundation.org.