Visiting the country of Laos had been a dream of mine for the past few years. It’s a long trip for a single mother from Alaska to make, but I had the feeling that it would be a life-changing experience. Rich with a diversity of cultures, history, and traditions, what the people of Laos desperately lack is resources for their children’s education.
I’ve had the privilege of visiting developing countries in the past, and while it’s true that my money stretches further in them, it’s equally true that I’ve left with feelings of guilt and ineptitude. I wouldn’t go to a new friend’s house for dinner empty-handed. So why should I be a guest in a poor country without bringing something to help if I know what their needs were?
Enter Pack For a Purpose (PFAP). Just days before my long-planned trip alone to Laos, I read about PFAP in a recent issue of O magazine. I looked over the PFAP website and was hooked.
Immediately, I contacted the clearinghouse for PFAP goods in Laos, Barnaby Evans at Rivertime Resort and Ecolodge. I booked a reservation at the lodge for a week, and cleared space in my luggage for 100 pencils.
And less than a week later, I left the below- zero temperatures in Alaska and arrived to a tropical oasis in Laos in the serene setting of the Rivertime Resort and Ecolodge. Mr. Evans brought me to one of the local schools a few days into my trip. Accompanied by a former student of the school who is currently a Rivertime staff member, we presented a teacher with a the collection of supplies Rivertime staff had collected from it’s guests. The students excitedly watched us, peering out the windows of their over-crowded classroom.
That’s all it took. A little space in my luggage and a small donation made a big difference to the children of Laos, and gave my trip a whole new dimension. I actually felt connected to the people of Laos.
Pack for a Purpose has definitely inspired me to reconsider how and where I plan all of my future adventures.