Find and Fly – Brazilian Street Dogs Immigrate To Loving Homes Oversees

Vivian Denise Mauro is an American lady I met at the Casa Dom Inacio De Loyola in Brazil. On a sunny warm morning, we stood outside the Casa’s cafeteria and chatted like old friends, though we had just met.

Vivian told me that she first came to see John of God with a group of women from New York City in 2004. She wanted to know if God is real. At the casa, she received a special message “Vivian I love you.” It was God speaking to her directly.

After that, Vivian felt ecstatic, she was laughing and crying at the same time, and singing the Beetles Song “Love is all there is.” As the light of God shone in her life, she started living in the present, gained more energy and eventually started guiding other people to visit Abadiania.

Vivian would often find street dogs in Abadiania. This area in rural Brazil is stricken with poverty, and caring for domestic pets, let alone stray animals, is not the top priority. But Vivian connected with the dogs. She sensed them having the same feeling of abandonment that she suffered from as a child, well into her adulthood. She ended up adopting 2 Shepherd mix dogs from the street – one of them, who she named Lucky, had a tumor.

Lucky underwent many treatments, mainly chemotherapy, but finally got cured. Vivian raised USD 12,000 for his treatments and to fly him to New York with her. Lucky lived happily with Vivian for 3 years.

Then on, every time Vivian would come to Abadiania, she would try to rescue more dogs. “Ango and Sammy were the next two” she told me she has rescued 78 dogs now. Not only does Vivian drive around the villages following her intuition, capturing injured and diseased animals (in a taxi, because she doesn’t have a car), she takes them to veterinarians for rehabilitation, castration, wound care, and nurses pregnant ones. She generally does not pick up healthy dogs.

Vivian also has 10 dogs at home and feeds another 22 every day at the kennel she opened near her home. The location doesn’t have a water source, so she hauls 16 liters of water on her bike for 12 kilometer and delivers it to the dogs every single day.

Vivian has started a Stray Dog Resettlement Program where she sends rescued dogs abroad to whoever wants to adopt them. This Adopt and Fly procedure takes only 2 days and costs $500-600. She has also sent a cat to Germany. When I asked her how the animals from Abadiania have adapted to their new homes, she told me that these are special animals because they have good energy. Therefore, they behave well and lovingly adopt their families.

“In Brazil, there is not much awareness of neutering and spaying, or treating animals like family members as they do in the US,” says Vivian. There are no commercials or dog shows here that emphasize that animals have feelings. Her goal is to conduct workshops at elementary schools to educate kids about humane treatment of animals. In the meantime she has unofficially started an Association to Protect Animals of Abadiania and crowdsourcing to fund immunization against tick disease and new kennels. Click here to donate on her Go Fund Me page.

Why Volunteering Abroad Leads To Happier Travel Experiences

We all know that staying happy and joyous can improve one’s lifestyle immensely. But it doesn’t just end there. It also helps in a lot of ways to keep your health in check and (might even) increase your lifespan as well.

As an individual, we must always look for reasons, occasions, and ways to stay happy and content. There is no fix scientific formula to attain happiness. It’s as simple as you want it to be.

All you have to do is to seek for it in whatever you do; and that includes traveling abroad.

Talking about finding happiness in overseas trips, volunteer vacations have proved to be a great channel to acquire this state. Travelers and backpackers from around the world do volunteer work abroad to see the world differently. College and high school students have started taking volunteer trips during their gap year time.

To understand why volunteering abroad is a factor for happy travel abroad experience, here are some verified reasons for it:

You’re Not Just Traveling

The opportunity to work for the welfare and development of the poor and underprivileged, providing support in conserving our ecosystem, and creating a difference in misfortunate lives – All these, put together, provides unparallel satisfaction and contentment in life.

Seeing all those happy and smiling faces around brings a smile to your own face in no time. Knowing that your efforts have helped make many futures better, gives a feeling of your own worth.

While volunteering abroad, you don’t just travel and click photos like any other tourist, but make a huge difference by giving back to the society.

You Get To Learn A Lot

Of course, you get to learn about the Whens, Whys, and Hows of heritage sites and cultural places of a destination you travel to. But, the same can be found anywhere over the internet as well; isn’t it!? (Hail Google!).

However, that, it’s liver (and not the heart) which is considered to be the symbol of love in Morocco, is a fact you would only get to learn when you get to interact with the locals: volunteering abroad helps doing that.

And, then, there are many other things your get to learn, which, at the end of the day, will bring happiness and satisfaction to you.

It’s A Great Mix Of Travel And Volunteering

So, just in case you have started to get a feeling that a volunteer trip will bind you completely to the project, leaving you with no time to have some fun, explore the city and take excursion; wait till you read ahead.

Most of the volunteer projects would require you to work for 5 days a week, leaving the weekends open for adventure trips and fun activities. Do all the touristy things during your free time. Even on weekdays, you can make the most of your evenings by exploring the places that are in close proximity.

If you are volunteering through a placement organization (highly recommended), you can always ask for the weekend trips they provide and leave the entire itinerary planning to them.

Great Travel Expedition Well Within Your Budget

Let’s face it. Everybody in this world looks forward to save money and get the best of the experiences for a minimum budget; every penny counts!

Volunteer trips are not only budget friendly, but are also highly cost effective. The number of experiences you get during your expedition and the quality of them are extraordinary.

As mentioned earlier, if you are volunteering through a placement agency, all you have to do is to pay the ‘one-time’ program fee, which will cover your accommodation, meals, in-country support, pre-departure information booklet, airport pickup, travel insurance support, weekend getaway offers, and much more. Go Eat Give offers such programs!

Of course, money can’t buy you happiness, but it can certainly make ways for you to be happy. Happiness is said to be the key to success, and volunteering abroad is the key to happy travel experiences; eventually, making your trip a success, every single time!

~ By guest blogger Riyanka Roy in India. Riyanka is a self proclaimed die-hard traveler and has explored India through its length and breadth – from Himachal in the North to Kanyakumari in the South, and from Kutch in the West to Gangtok in the East. She currently lives in Gurgaon, Haryana. She loves to binge on local food from the places where she travels to. She has previously written for Tripoto, Youth Ki Awaaz, Your Story and Huffington Post. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram

Why Volunteering In Thailand Can Be The Best Travel Experience

Thailand is one destination that does not really needs a reason to visit. Being regularly featured in most of the “Top Destinations to Visit” lists, its popularity in travel fraternity is not unknown. Then why should you be thinking about volunteering in Thailand? You might wonder.

Volunteering abroad is a form of traveling overseas that allows a traveler to gain experiences that are not possible on a regular holiday visit. There are things one gets to do, see, and feel that are unlikely during a regular trip.

So, what exactly are these differences? What makes a volunteer trip to Thailand better than a regular travel expedition? Here’s the answer to it all…

Living

One of the primary things that differentiates a volunteer trip to Thailand from a regular trip is the living arrangements. It varies drastically in many aspects; including style, area, facilities, and most importantly, the budget.

guest house thailandVolunteer in Thailand

  • Accommodation provided in a volunteer house placement.
  • Meals are provided at the accommodation itself.
  • Rooms allotted on same gender sharing basis.
  • Day starts fresh and early.

Regular Travel Experience

  • Living in a hotel room.
  • Have to arrange and pay for each and every meal of the day.
  • Day starts when you want it to (could be at noon as well).

While for a regular trip to Thailand, one need to do all the bookings in advance and pay for each meal and facility; for a volunteer trip, it’s a one time payment done in the form of program fee. It’s more like living in a home away from home, literally.

Networking

This is one of the most interesting differences between a volunteer travel and a regular trip to Thailand. It is known that Thailand is also denoted as The City Of Smiles, and that is for a reason. Volunteering in Thailand lets you discover that reason in its most genuine form.

Volunteer in Thailand

  • Get to interact with the natives on a much closer and personal level.
  • Get to make friends with people from across the globe while living together.
  • Get to learn a word or two of the local language.
  • Get to understand and immerse in the local culture.

Regular Travel Experience

  • Little to no interaction with the locals (unless you to stop to ask for directions).
  • Friends/family/partner (or whoever came along) are the only travel companions.
  • Get to witness the local traditions and culture, but without any insights to its roots; let alone getting to immerse yourself in it.
  • The only opportunity to learn something of the local language is either from the menu card of a local restaurant or billboards.

Local Guidance

This is a key aspect of volunteering abroad that makes the entire trip a great success. A regular holiday would certainly take you to some of the best places that your guidebook has mentioned. However, a guidebook is the result of a traveler’s findings and can provide only limited information and insights.

Volunteer in Thailand

  • A dedicated local coordinator appointed throughout the tour.
  • Recommended places to visit that one won’t find in guidebooks.
  • No need to hire a tour guide.
  • Help in making arrangements for weekend tours.
  • First point of contact in case of any problem or emergency.
  • Support and guidance throughout the sojourn.

Regular Travel Experience

  • Have to hire a local guide for each monument or tourist site.
  • Have to book your own tours and visits to tourist sites.
  • Have to rely on guidebooks for exploring.
  • Embassy is the only point of contact in case of any problem or emergency.

volunteer in thailand
Overall Experience

There are some travelers who crave for adventure, some like to explore the heritage and culture, while others just want to post those selfies to burn their friends back home. Volunteering in Thailand provides you an opportunity to experience all these things along with a few more, unmatched experiences, especially the experience of making new friends.

Volunteer in Thailand

  • Give happiness while making a difference.
  • Experience local living.
  • Learn to cook Pad Thai the authentic way.
  • Make friends with elephants.
  • Gain international work experience.

Regular Travel Experience

  • Limited adventures
  • Visiting heritage sites mentioned in the guidebooks.
  • Little to no interaction with the natives.

One volunteer travel abroad experience for me, gave me a new perceptive on life, and made me realize that this is the way I want to travel. I haven’t looked back ever since.

Dave in ThailandIf you have been to Thailand before and are planning another visit, try making it a volunteer trip this time and experience the difference yourself. And, if you haven’t been to this paradise ever, plan your visit now.

Resources for volunteering in Thailand:

Volunteering Solutions

A Comprehensive Guidebook

~ By guest blogger, Dave Dronacharya. Dave is a full time travel writer/blogger. His passion for traveling got him into the habit of writing, which soon turned into a profession. He writes and shares his personal experiences and facts in his articles with only one objective in mind; motivating others as well to travel as much as they can. His work is published on The Huffington Post, SocialEarth, VolunteersMagazine, and Cultural Trip. Follow Dave on Twitter

From Traveler to Change Maker

In July 2015, my husband and I headed to Rwanda, a country that suffered one of the worst genocides the world has ever seen – more than 800,000 people were slaughtered in 100 days. We met a small group of women there that were living in terrible conditions and had faced the most unimaginable circumstances. Many are victims of rape, are widowed, orphaned and lost children of their own. These women inspired us to do something drastic.

M&A Rwanda

To give a clear picture of the whole story of how we ended up in Rwanda, let me first rewind to November 2014, during our first trip there, a journey we were inspired to embark on after spending the last 14 years traveling around the world. A writer and a photographer duo, we took the time to deeply connect with many fascinating people we met along the way and to learn more about incredible cultures we came to love. We saw the juxtaposition between wealthy and poor and it gave us that unsettled feeling of enjoying something that was only available to those who could afford it.

As travelers, it is important to us to leave the planet a better place. Our journeys abroad brought a richness to our life that no material object ever could. So we thought – why not return this good to the world and pay it forward?

So back to that drastic life-changing thing we did.

Last year, we launched Humanity Unified International, a nonprofit organization that empowers communities to rise above poverty through education, food security programs and economic opportunities. We started by investing in women.

Humanity Unified International

I gave up all my opportunities to earn an income through my online magazine to focus solely on building the organization and our current project in Rwanda. For the past year, my life has been completely dedicated to serving and empowering the women involved in our project.

Humanity Unified International

Now when my husband and I travel, we spend our time doing something meaningful and impactful in Rwanda. We’ve chosen to work with a local NGO that is leading a women’s farming cooperative project with us. Our approach to sustainable development lies within investing in local organizations and stepping away from our own ideas and beliefs of how things should be or what development should look like from a Western perspective. We trust our partners and we know that they put the needs of the community first.

As a travel writer, I knew I could write stories to help spread awareness about the work we are doing with Humanity Unified Int’l. I’ve been sharing our story with people all over the world in hopes that it will inspire those drawn to our mission to get involved and to come together in making this planet a kinder, gentler, fairer place for the good of humanity.

Become part of our story of empowerment. Learn more at humanityunified.org

 

~ By Maria Russo, writer, editor and co-founder of Humanity Unified Int’l, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to lifting vulnerable populations out of poverty through education, food security programs and economic opportunities. Follow Maria on Twitter @MariaCultureist

Today is Georgia Gives Day

GAGives_LogoOur lives have all been touched by a nonprofit, whether it’s the hospital we were born in, the schools that educate us, the parks and arts we enjoy or the animal shelter where we found our best friend.

You can make your community a safer, happier and better place to live by donating to the nonprofit that means the most to you. The mission of Go Eat Give to raise awareness of different cultures globally and locally through travel, food and community service. We organize Destination Dinners, Cooking Classes and Volunteer Vacations showcasing communities that live in our own backyards. We depend on the support of volunteers and donors LIKE YOU to sustain our organization.

Cooperative farm in Cuba
Cooperative farm in Cuba

Let’s all give back on November 13, 2013 to Go Eat Give on Georgia Gives Day!

  • $25 – Sponsor Atlanta high school students at a Destination Dinner to increase their cultural awareness
  • $50 – Purchase equipment to support sustainable cooperative farming in Cuba
  • $100 – Contribute towards construction of toilets in village schools in Indonesia
  • $500 – Sponsor an underprivileged family to go on a Go Eat Give trip
Teachers toilet in Bali village school
Teachers toilet in Bali village school

FAQs

What is GA Gives Day?
On November 13th, thousands of people across Georgia will raise as much money as possible in a 24-hour period for nonprofits through the website.

The mission of Georgia Gives Day is to inspire individuals to donate to participating nonprofits through GAgivesday.org with the goal of raising as much money as possible within a 24-hour period.

How does it work?
GAgivesday.org makes donating easy by organizing hundreds of nonprofits across the state onto one website, providing the information people need to select a cause, and enabling online donations by credit card or e-check.

How do I donate?
It’s easy! Simply visit our profile page and make a donation via credit card or echeck. Every penny counts when we are giving back into our nonprofits that make our state beautiful and a wonderful place to live.

Once you’ve selected a cause and made your donation, tell your friends by sharing on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or the outlet of your choice.

When is Georgia Gives Day?
Georgia Gives Day will take place on November 13, 2013.

Can I only give on November 13th?
Although November 13th has been named Georgia Gives Day and the mass media campaign will focus on this day, GAgivesday.org will function as an ongoing, year round giving platform. You can give any time!

GAgivesday.org will function and accept donations year round, with an emphasis placed on November 13th.

Who is involved?
Georgia Gives Day is a collaboration of the Georgia Center for Nonprofits in partnership with participating nonprofits, corporations, associations, foundations and public relations and advertising firms.

Georgia Gives Day involves hundreds of nonprofits throughout the state that support a wide variety of causes.

Adding Charity to the Vacation Packing List

Our mission at Go Eat Give is to tie travel with giving back to the community. While volunteering is one of the ways to do so, here is another great opportunity to make a small difference wherever you go. Posada Amazonas Lodge, one of three accommodations under the directive of Peru’s visionary leader in sustainable tourism, Rainforest Expeditions, has partnered with Pack for a Purpose that encourages travelers to carry with them five pounds of school or medical supplies that can make a difference to communities they’re visiting. Continue reading “Adding Charity to the Vacation Packing List”

Why I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro (Part 2)

Continued from Part 1

The flight to Tanzania was long. It began on June 19th and I finally arrived the afternoon of June 21st.  Katyann picked me up at the airport, then we got Alexa and Kelly, before heading to Moshi.  We spent the day walking around Moshi, meeting up with some other climbers, and had a fabulous meal at the Union Cafe before retiring back to our hotel for the night. Continue reading “Why I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro (Part 2)”

Why I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro (Part 1)

For years I had the desire to travel abroad and volunteer, but it wasn’t until 2010 I took the leap and finally did it. I chose to volunteer through a non-profit organization called Cross-Cultural Solutions (CCS), and I chose Morocco as my first volunteer country.  Continue reading “Why I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro (Part 1)”

Tam’s cafe for the hearing impaired



Another inspirational story of voluntrourism comes from an American chef in Vietnam. Chef Robert Danhi, a former instructor at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York and author of the cookbook Southeast Asian Flavors, leads culinary tours to Vietnam and other countries in Southeast Asia. After a few visits, Robert contemplated doing more for the country that has nourished his mind, body and soul, and find a way to give back to the people of the country.  Continue reading “Tam’s cafe for the hearing impaired”

Rooms for Good

Your next vacation can help a wounder warrior. The Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) works to raise awareness and enlist the public’s aid for the needs of injured service men and women. The organization provides direct programs and service tailored to meet the needs of families impacted on or after 9/11. Now you can also help contribute to this important cause and enjoy a fun getaway at the same time.

photo courtesy Gaylord Opryland

Gaylord Hotels has started a Rooms for Good program in partnership with WWP where the hotel will donate 10% of proceeds from booking the special packages in May and June 2012.

If you have not been to the Gaylord Opryland, it is a must visit destination. Read my previous post about the resort.

The Rooms for Good packages start at $179 per couple and includes 1 night stay and breakfast for 2. Special military packages start at $139 per couple. You can chose any of the Gaylord locations – Washington DC, Orlando, Nashville or Dallas. Click here to make a reservation.