One of my sisters used to live in a tourist destination country where the majority of the population is very poor. Schools are poorly supplied with items like paper, reading material, and pencils. I know children can learn to read and write if someone takes a stick and draws on sand, but getting other materials opens the world to children and helps encourage them to seek further education.
Sis took a suitcase of books with her on one occasion. They were all good quality used books, but the cost of transporting them was so much that she only did it once. However, the recipients of the books acted like she had brought them the greatest treasure on earth, which in a way is true. Literacy is hard to provide when you don't have materials like books for students. Particularly in countries where people are poor, books are hard to come by and many times libraries don't exist.
I ran across an interesting site the other day called packforapurpose.org. Pack For A Purpose is designed to aid travelers to take a few items with them in their luggage to deliver them to a safe location, from which the items may be distributed.
Judging from the horror stories people tell of luggage searches and delays at the airports, I thought the idea of taking small items in your luggage to donate is an idea that rates more attention. Taking an entire suitcase of books these days might get you set aside for further investigation by some paranoid airport employee. Taking an extra bit of stuff in your luggage won't get so much attention and it won't eat into your budget either.
Pack For A Purpose states in their brochure that if 500 individuals pack five pounds (2.27 kgs.) each they can provide 1.25 tons of supplies. That may not sound like much, but wise choices can make a real difference. The reason Pack For A Purpose works it seems is that it's set up so that travelers can participate without making a huge effort. They simply check the area to which they are travelling to see if any of the companies providing accommodations in the area are registered with Pack For A Purpose. If there is someone registered, they will also have listed supplies needed by projects in their area.
The reason this works is that five pounds of supplies is not a big problem for most travelers. Pack For A Purpose lists in their brochure that "five deflated soccer balls with an inflation device or 400 pencils or a stethoscope, a blood pressure cuff, and 500 bandaids" are some of the items that can be taken along on travels to needy destinations. Once the traveler arrives they can hand over the supplies, which means they can donate at their travel destination with very little trouble on their part. This small contribution adds up to big changes for the recipients.
I went and checked some of the accommodations' listings for recipients in their areas. For example, The Hacienda Chichen Resort at Chichen Itza, Mexico has listed four projects in their local area to which travels may donate five pounds of supplies. Along with an explanation of the project the resort lists the items requested by each project. It's surprising how many things we take for granted that would be seen as an incredible gift by some of the projects.
Most of the items on the list are very inexpensive and easy to obtain and transport in one's luggage. A children's nutrition clinic listed their needs and I was surprised to see vitamins on the top of the list. I would have assumed that a nutrition clinic would have easy access to vitamins, but apparently not, and so it seems that five pounds may make a life saving difference as well.
Pack For A Purpose even provides tips for getting the most into your donation. For example, they recommend that items with extensive packaging be taken out of the original packaging and placed in light plastic bags. It appears the organizers gave a lot of thought in making it easier for travelers to share some of their good fortune with other less fortunate than they.
Beefs or bouquets to firstname.lastname@example.org please.