Enjoy the beauty of Rajasthan on a volunteer adventure trip-of-a-lifetime
Pink sunsets giving way to the broadening dome of an azure sky. Peacocks flying low across the desert. Burnished golden forts rising from the baked earth. Women walking gracefully in neon-bright saris. Men in bulbous turbans leading loping camels. This is Rajasthan: romantic scenes from your fantasies of India really do come to life here. But of course Rajasthan is much more than a picture postcard of idealized India. It is also home to a large population, many of whom lead traditional and impoverished lives of back-breaking labour in a climate of extreme weather.
And this is where Me to We is building Araveli Cottages, a new property for volunteer travellers. Participants will be able to experience Rajasthan, contribute to the community and stay in comfort. For more than 10 years, Me to We Trips have been sending young people, families, adults and groups on life-changing trips to a Free the Children “Adopt-a-Village” program near Udaipur, Rajasthan. And starting this summer, 2013, participants will be able to stay in luxury at Araveli Cottages, a property designed with authentic Rajasthani decor and featuring well-appointed private cottages and generous indoor and outdoor shared spaces. Read on to find out more about Me to We trips to India and Kenya (and elsewhere), and about the surprising story of how it was all started by a 12-year-old Canadian boy.
Experience the world with Me to Me
How would you like to spend a night in a luxury tent on the grounds of Karen Blixen’s Kenyan coffee estate — the place made famous by Out of Africa — on your way to Maasai Mara; and then spend your days immersing in the local culture and staying in comfort at Bogani Cottages? Or, stay at the luxurious Araveli Cottages in rural Rajasthan and interact with a developing community? Well, you can if you book a Me To We volunteer adventure trip.
Me to We is a unique, and innovative social enterprise that “creates lifestyle experiences for the conscious consumer who wants to contribute to a better world.” Among other socially conscious pursuits, Me to We offers volunteer trips for both children and adults. And the adult trips were the reason I was at the Me to We store in Toronto, on a blustery February morning, along with a roomful of hand-picked travel editors, writers and bloggers. These trips, and especially their new facilities in Kenya and Rajasthan, India are really exciting. And one of the best things about them is that half their profits go to support their sister charity, Free the Children. If you don’t know the story of the founding of Free the Children it’s a good one.
In 1995, when Craig Kielburger was a normal 12 year old boy in suburban Toronto, he came across a news story about a Pakistani boy who had been sold into bonded labour, escaped, began speaking about children’s rights and was shot dead. At the age of 12. Craig marveled at the age similarity and the life story dissimilarity. Moved by a deeply felt sense of injustice, Craig and some other friends started a group to try and help children who weren’t as lucky as they were — and that group eventually evolved into Free the Children.
Contribute to a better world
Now, Free the Children is an, “international charity and educational partner, with more than 1.7 million youth involved in innovative education and development programs in 45 countries.” The charity’s sister organization, Me To We, is a social enterprise company run by Marc Kielburger — who has worked hand-in-hand with his brother Craig right from the start — and Marc’s wife Roxanne Joyal. Marc and Roxanne were on hand to tell us the story of Me to We, and of the volunteer adventure trips, and their passion and idealism was palpable. Softy that I am, tears rose in my eyes more than once.
There is no doubt in my mind that the secret of the success of Free the Children and Me to We is the infectious passion and spirit of idealism that Craig Kielburger, Marc Kielburger and Roxanne Joyal poured into creating these endeavours. And there is no doubt that anyone who gets involved with Free the Children, or goes on a Me to We volunteer adventure, will be fundamentally changed.
For more information on Me to We volunteer adventure trips, visit the Me to We website. And enjoy the video!
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