The Travel Corporation (TTC) and its seven award-winning brands, in collaboration with the TreadRight Foundation, have launched a global partnership with the Canadian company ME to WE by offering engaging, multi-generational volunteer trips worldwide. These include trips to India, the Ecuadorian Amazon and Kenya, but 2017 also marks the first year that Trafalgar adds vibrant India to its list of places to visit.
In combination with TTC’s guided luxury vacations, this transformative ME to WE excursion will allow travellers to participate on a sustainable development project alongside local families, while being surrounded by a culture full of age old tradition and beauty.
The ME to WE trip is an extension of Trafalgar’s 12-night India itinerary. Guests will stay three nights and four days at Araveli Cottages and Tented Camp in the rural countryside of Rajasthan, with the backdrop of the Aravalli Mountains making you swoon. Once there, travellers will have the chance to help local women collect water for their families, build a classroom for future generations brick by brick, dig out a new clean water system and more. Regardless of your level of physical fitness, there is a hands-on way to help out the community and make a positive impact.
"The best part about this extension is that it gets you out of busy centres and into rural life where you can give back,” says Roxanne Joyal, CEO of ME to WE. “You are offered an opportunity to give back physically and with a purpose.”
One of the alluring factors to this combined trip is that you still get to be a traveller and check out India’s bazaars, palaces, grand temples, ancient ruins, city centres and beaches, and then you also get to go off the grid and humble yourself with real people and real experiences.
Guests who choose this impactful way of travel will be able to immerse themselves in the daily lives of the women who live in rural India. They will get to know their stories, make new friendships and learn their traditional tie-dying and block-printing techniques. This country is one of the most visually-gorgeous places on Earth, due to the handiwork and culture of the people who live there.
49-year-old Lynda Kurylowicz, from Ottawa, has made numerous trips with ME to WE in the past 10 years, including to Kenya, Ecuador and India. She brought her husband and her son with her on the India excursion first in December 2014, and returned again with her sister for a second visit in July 2016. She says sharing the experience with her family and having it change their lives together was a special reward of the trip. As a woman and a mother, she says this extension had the most impact on her, as she got to spend time with women groups and schools in an intimate setting.
“Women in the communities especially are empowered with the help that the organization provides with this program,” Kurylowicz says. “We are working with the community to make their lives better. We aren’t changing any of their traditions or their lifestyle. We are working for, and with them. It’s a really sustainable and valuable partnership.”
One of the best parts about choosing ME to WE, is that half of their net profits are donated to their charitable partner WE Charity, which helps travellers make an even bigger impact on the communities they visit. The other half is reinvested to grow the enterprise and its social mission, to keep trips like these possible.
“The country has so many challenges,” says Kurylowicz about India. “Some areas seem to have no hope, but ME to WE communities are changing that.”
The added volunteer excursion is offered for $1,375 USD per person and includes all meals, ground transfers, transportation, accommodations and local sightseeing hosted by an expert facilitator.
The next available dates are September 1-4 2017 and September 29 to October 2, 2017.
“I love to travel regularly, but doing a volunteer trip brings you to a vulnerable place,” says Kurylowicz. “It gives perspective and a chance to remind us what is important and to appreciate the lives we are lucky to have at home, especially in Canada. I tell everyone to try it and it is part of the reason why I’ve been doing this for 10 years.”
Kurylowicz says she will continue to travel with ME to WE in the future and is proud to show off the Canadian flag stitched on her backpack when she does.
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