Pack for a Purpose

“I believe every human mind feels pleasure in doing good to another.” – Thomas Jefferson
Once, just before traveling, I experienced the greatest reward of being a teacher and a coach by watching students take ownership of an idea to help someone they had never met in a country they had never visited. 
We collected donations of school supplies for children in Nepal, with the tremendous help of Angel’s Delta Air Lines colleagues in Madrid (note: not a company sponsored event; colleagues were just happy and eager to help) and of my students.

Angel and I traveled to Everest Base Camp in February and March of 2018. We did not travel with a group, nor with a guide, nor a porter. But we wanted to connect with the locals beyond our evening huddles around the dining room stove. Pack for a Purpose, a 501(c)(3) based in North Carolina, offered the perfect opportunity.

It is easy to think that kids elsewhere need what we have. But maybe they don’t. Maybe we are confusing our own wants and needs. Or maybe someone else already delivered it.
Pack for a Purpose describes itself: “We provide travelers with info about needed supplies for community projects supported by accommodations and tour companies worldwide.”
The key here is needed suppliesAs independent travelers, not already affiliated with any tourist agency, we had four organizations with whom we could participate in Nepal, two of them in Kathmandu. Each had a slightly different list of supplies, to support their needs. We collected: colored pencils, erasers, handheld pencil sharpeners, markers, pencils, pens, protractors, and rulers. Be sure to check the website for the most current requests.

Since we were backpacking and not checking any luggage, we filled two drawstring bags with the donations and carried them onboard as our personal items. Just before departure, we contacted Trekking Team Group and arranged a time to deliver the donations. We found the address on the map and went to the office in Thamel.
Shreehari, the CEO of company, in customary Nepalese hospitality, sat with us and explained the labors and rewards of their corporate social responsibility, as well as the bigger picture of political and socioeconomic conditions in Nepal.

In addition to collecting supplies for a village school of 350 children, Trekking Team Group has partnered with a German company, Nepalhilfe im kleinen Rahmen, to provide more infrastructure and programs for the school. Together, they:

  • Helped build a school for poor villagers and provide access to small children, who previously were not able to walk the long way to school.
  • Provided school uniforms and a book bag for village students whose parents could not afford it.
  • Improved the cooking stove. Previously women spent much time in the kitchen and it was difficult to breathe with all of the smoke. Many developed lung problems, such as asthma. There were even chances of fire on a windy day. Many kids were burned. Now all problems are solved.
  • Provided drinking water supply. Previously, the kids used to walk many hours before school to collect water. Now their water collecting time is saved.
  • Held a dental camp. There was a big problem with students’ dental hygiene. They didn’t know how to brush properly or when to brush. Many of them had teeth problems because they had too many sweets. The awareness camp and lesson of how to brush properly and when to brush helped them a lot. Now they are even teaching their parents. This is the achievement they wanted to have.
  • Providing hot lunches for students in the village school. Some of the children did not have enough food at home. 
A few weeks after our return home, I received an email from Shreehari. He had traveled with a large group to deliver our donations and many more to the children. The children created hand-written thank you notes to show their gratitude.
You, too, can Pack for a Purpose on your next trip. Here’s how:
  • Visit
  • Choose a participating organization in your destination (NB: Don’t assume that there are or aren’t organizations in your area, as there are even some in the United States. The website is updated frequently to reflect current needs)
  • Collect some of the requested items and pack them in your suitcase
  • Contact the organization to coordinate delivery when you arrive
  • Deliver donations to the organization in your destination
  • Tell everyone you know about your experience so they can do the same on their future travels
  • Not traveling? You can also donate to the organization here.
For #GivingTuesday, on 3 December, we will be donating a percentage of our sales to Pack for a Purpose to help them become a more sustainable organization. You can help by shopping One Plane Jane on Giving Tuesday and by sharing this post and our social media posts about the event to raise awareness. Have you already packed for a purpose? Tell us about your experience and we will share your story. Together, we really can make a world of difference! 

A million thanks to everyone who contributed, especially Sonía, Sara, and Angel’s Delta Air Lines colleagues in Madrid.
We are made for relationships.  

Mentioned in this article:
Pack for a Purpose
Trekking Team Group

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