By Beth Fulmer
As we planned our honeymoon to Zanzibar, my husband and I had relaxation on our minds! Although we married in August, we chose to travel over the holidays in December. The extra planning time also came in handy, as we knew we wanted to find a positive and memorable way to celebrate our new lives together on this particular trip.
I lived in Zanzibar as a student some years ago, so we contacted my former advisor at the Ministry of Health to ask if any medical supplies may be needed for the local clinics and hospital. In exploring other ideas for charitable giving, I came across the Pack for a Purpose website. I was immediately struck by the simplicity behind the PfaP's mission--that organizations in need can connect with travelers directly through their lodging partnership. I connected with PfaP founder Rebecca Rothney, and her enthusiasm was contagious!
In addition to collecting approximately 150 pounds of medical supplies for Mnazi Mmoja, Zanzibar's main referral hospital, we also officially "packed for a purpose" and chose to donate supplies for Kigomani Primary School through their lodging partner, Matemwe. A week before our trip, our Dollar Store shopping cart was filled to the brim with colored pencils, flash cards, wall charts, dictionaries, story books, and many many other needed items identified on the school's wish list. We really enjoyed shopping for the school and picking out all of the items together.
Our travel to Zanzibar with all of the supplies went off without a hitch. Upon our arrival to the island, we made contact with the hospital to deliver the medical equipment, and with Matemwe Lodge to deliver the school supplies. Kigomani School was closed for the holidays, but we were thrilled that Celine from Matemwe could arrange delivery of the supplies to the school for us, and that she would be sending pictures. It was a great joy for us to see the photos in our inbox after we returned to the daily grind back in Chicago.
During my time as a student in Zanzibar and in travels since, I have sometimes noticed how well-intentioned visitors often donate items to local communities that are not as useful or appropriate as they might have imagined. To this end, my husband and I were so happy to participate in a program that is self-directed by those it benefits. As we look forward to many more years of great travel together, I think a check of the Pack for a Purpose website will always be an item on our pre-trip checklist!