I first heard of Pack for a Purpose when my husband and I traveled to South Africa for our honeymoon in 2017. My husband and I were staying at the Ant’s Nest lodge and PfaP was mentioned on the lodge’s website. Although I had to pack very light as I would be traveling for several weeks, we were able to stop by a large store (similar to our Costco) to buy requested school supplies and outdoor toys. I was expecting to simply drop the items off at the Fold, but we were warmly welcomed and given a tour of the school and property by Paul, the organizer of the entire project. It was such a rewarding experience to see firsthand how this program enriches the lives of the children living there, and how their teachings beyond academic education (such as gardening!) can help prepare children for a bright future.
My experience in South Africa stuck with me (I actually still get occasional newsletters from the Fold!). Last summer as I was planning my trip to Brazil, I checked on the Pack for a Purpose website and picked a project relating supporting education (as a school based speech pathologist this is an area I know something about). I didn’t have a lot of space in my small suitcase, but I was able to pack a few books, school supplies and outdoor recreational activities. We donated the items to an after school program called Mais Caminhos, which is a program where motivated children from low income households are given additional educational opportunities and financial support to improve their future prospects. While we were there we were given a tour of the facility. The children were preparing decorations for an upcoming local festival and were so excited to share them with us. Some of the children enjoyed the opportunity to practice their English skills on me…and they were more than happy to teach me some phrases in Portuguese.
I plan to keep Pack for a Purpose in mind from now on whenever my husband and I travel internationally. Unfortunately, we were not able to take our trip to Southeast Asia this summer, but I look forward to seeing which projects are available in the areas we plan to travel for our rescheduled trip in 2021.