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Beautiful Bonaire Becomes PfaP’s Newest Destination

I was thrilled to add the country of Bonaire as the 50th destination on our website right before we ventured there for my husband’s 75th birthday.

The Sonrisa Boutique Hotel, the first accommodation on Bonaire that chose to participate with Pack for a Purpose, supports two different NGOs on the island. ECHO Parrots & People and Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire are dear to the hearts of the owners.

Armed with a needs list, my husband and I and my wonderful neighbor Karen set out to secure supplies to pack in our luggage. We managed to purchase several items on the needs list and all-in-all they weighed a little over 12 pounds, which was easily divided between our 2 checked bags.

For our first full day on the island, we had arranged to meet with Radinka and Marlies of Bonaire’s NGO Platform. We had an extremely productive meeting with them discussing how Pack for a Purpose operates, so they would have a complete understanding of our nonprofit. They said, and I quote, “Pack for a Purpose sounds too good to be true.”, but of course it is. We discussed several ways that they would connect the association, which represents the accommodation on the island, with a list of nonprofits that they work with at the NGO platform. We all hope in the months ahead that this will lead to many more of Bonaire’s accommodations and tour companies highlighting nonprofits where travelers can Pack for a Purpose.

While it is not guaranteed that you will be able to visit any of the nonprofits on our website, in this case, ECHO Parrots & People actually have a tour that is possible to take! Below are the tour details from their website:

We welcome you to visit us at our Conservation Center located in the lush Dos Pos Valley in the North of the island, 30 minutes from Kralendijk. We offer a 1.5 hour guided tour that helps you connect with Bonaire’s “topside” nature, and explore all the incredible species that this beautiful island has to offer from the mighty Wayaka tree to the vulnerable, Yellow-shouldered Amazon Parrot. You’ll get to learn all about Echo’s conservation efforts to restore and protect the parrots and their habitat as well as meet our two ambassador parrots, Kiki & Lola.

We could not pass up this opportunity, so we chose to donate the supplies ourselves. It was absolutely fabulous to meet Julianka, who runs the Foundation, and see the wonderful work that she does in educating the children on the importance of conservation and protection of the parrots. Below are descriptions of some of the programs that are a part of ECHO’s educational mission.

  • Creating the Klup di Lora (Parrot Club), an after-school program that engages local youth through educational games and other activities.
  • Echo provides each club member with a special series of activity books as well as materials for group play, including board games, arts and crafts materials, and parrot cut-outs.
  • Regularly hosting school groups at the Dos Pos Conservation Centre and the parrot rehabilitation facility.
  • Working with local church groups and Bonaire’s Junior Rangers to teach students about the importance of the parrots and trees through fun, educational activities.
  • Talking to representatives from the local crop-growing community about parrot-human conflict and employing various methods to reduce this conflict, such as the use of trained falcons to scare parrots from farmers’ fields, providing alternative feeding tables near farms, and using large scale nets to cover crops.
  • Reducing the social acceptability of the poaching of wild parrots for the local and international pet trade by educating people about the vulnerable status of their local parrots.

For Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire, we brought a scale they needed for weighing smaller turtles and latex gloves that they always need on hand.

Bonaire is an island where everybody knows everybody. We were talking about Pack for a Purpose on the fabulous snorkeling cruise we took with Woodwinds Sailing & Guided Snorkel Tour. Our Captain, Kimberly, smiled and said she was very good friends with Floor, who is on the staff of STCB, and that she would be happy to deliver the items to her for us! Floor, then, graciously sent us the photo attached above.

It was most meaningful to us to be able to spread the joy of Scott’s 75th birthday with the wonderful people of Bonaire. Bringing supplies to the two projects supported by the Sonrisa made the trip we took go farther than the miles we traveled!


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