The feature story below was written by Johnathan Letta as part of an assignment for The Selling Power of Storytelling class, Spring 2021, at St. John Fisher College. Doctor Monica A. Hodis, Associate Professor of Marketing, selected Pack for a Purpose as a client for her class. Johnathan Letta chose Marcus Cotton as the person they wished to interview and write a story about.
At Pack for a Purpose, we help travelers do just as our name says, pack for a purpose. Our strategy starts with people traveling all over the world and having a sense of generosity, giving to communities around the world that are less fortunate. One of our partners, located in Nepal, is Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge.
The lodge, founded in 1998, was opened by the first summiteer of Mount Everest, New Zealander, Sir Edmund Hillary. Located in the middle hills tier of the region, the lodge was created with an alternative for trekking in mind, with its location providing access for day hikes in the agricultural communities around the lodge. The strategic location of Tiger Mountain, in the centre of the country, also allows for access to the wildlife of the plains, as well as the high Himalayan peaks and different cultural and environmental aspects that the nation has to offer. The lodge has a focus on regenerative tourism which evolved from eco-tourism through sustainable tourism, with a wellness aspect too. The founding partners had their own different ventures in the mid 1960’s named Tiger Tops, the pioneer of wildlife tourism in Nepal and Mountain Travel Nepal, the pioneer of Himalayan trekking, hence the name Tiger Mountain. Taking all of that heritage into account, the real mission for Tiger Mountain is a focus on raising the standards of sustainability and regenerative tourism in the region. To Tiger Mountain, that improvement doesn’t come in just one form. As mentioned above, there are several focal points for the organization, but the focal point that Pack for a Purpose is able to influence is through the cultural lens.
Through Tiger Mountain’s collaboration with Pack for a Purpose, there has been the ability to create positive impact in the education environment in the nearby Rakhi and Shillinge villages. Within these villages, there are ‘free’ schools that are funded by the government, so all children are able to attend. With that being said, many children and families struggle in obtaining the appropriate materials necessary for optimizing their learning experiences. Through Tiger Mountain’s community support partnership program, the lodge has actively been trying to benefit the local area through various means but ensuring always that the focus is on community based and led activities to ensure a true sense of local ownership as, in Nepal, there seems to be a struggle to keep project benefits going after the implementation phase – post-project sustainability. This is where Pack for a Purpose comes into play.
As one of the active supporters of Tiger Mountain’s community support partnership program, the simplicity and variability of Pack for a Purpose’s model was openly welcomed by Tiger Mountain. The model enables travelers to contribute by giving desired items to the local education system along with other community-perceived needs, in a very scalable manner. It is understood that in packing for a purpose, different travelers will be able to afford to bring different things. With that being said, any and all donations are accepted as any little bit can help make a child’s day better. This can be seen on a visit with one of Tiger Mountain’s local guides, Hari. He is the link between Tiger Mountain and the schools in the local community. Hari helps keep a connection between both parties, making sure the two operate together smoothly and effectively. It is with Hari that guests from Tiger Mountain Pokhara Lodge get to make a journey into the villages and see firsthand the richness of the local culture.
For those packing for a purpose, this can be an extremely rewarding experience as it provides them with an opportunity to see the faces of the children receiving their donations, leaving an impact on the recipient and the donor for life. It is in these moments of cultural recognition and smiles filled with joy coming from the children’s faces where lifelong packers for a purpose are developed. Moment’s like these shape the mindset and way that many packers for a purpose go about life. The sensation and feeling of fulfillment experienced through giving is truly incomparable.
Through the collaboration of both Pack for a Purpose and Tiger Mountain, the areas surrounding the lodge are able to derive mutual benefit. While these recipients of what is being donated benefit, they aren’t the only ones. Everyone involved in the process is a beneficiary in some capacity as the entire process is a depiction of just how strong and influential humanity can be, when coming together to do good. Through a conversation with Marcus, one of Tiger Mountain’s key players in the collaboration with Pack for a Purpose as well as mentor for their community support partnership program, he described that it was too hard to pinpoint a particular instance where the impact of this all really clicked for him. He described the moment when kids receive these donations as being like “Christmas, a birthday and Thanksgiving all in one.” That feeling is reciprocated through everyone there and all of those involved in that moment.
The experience is as authentic as you can get, and really bodes as memorable for many of our packers for a purpose. A little act can really go a long way. Through organizations like us at Pack for a Purpose or partners like Tiger Mountain, we hope to help facilitate those little acts of generosity, to create that long term difference for people. Even if it is one pencil at a time.