AUTHOR Caroline Eaton
Ellie studied about the animals of the Galapagos Islands in school and wanted to do something to help the kids there when she visited. At only age 11, she discovered Pack for a Purpose and decided this was how she could use her vacation to also give back to the locals in need.
We are thankful that Ellie gave her time to discuss her experience with Pack for a Purpose, and hopefully will motivate future travelers to bring some supplies on their next visit!
1. Have you always been involved in organizations similar to Pack for a Purpose at home?
This is the first time I have worked with an organization like this, and it’s the first time I have ever brought something on a trip. I’ve done community service work before, but it was just in our town library so this was something new.
2. How did you learn about Pack for a Purpose? What motivated you to get involved?
Pack for a Purpose was mentioned on the Ecoventura website and travel papers. My mom and I talked about it and we decided it would be good to help out and bring some things to that the kids of the Galapagos.The Pack for a Purpose website made it easy to figure out what they needed.
3. You mentioned you asked the dentist and some of your teacheers for extra supplies. Was that scary? Were you afraid they would say no?
My mom helped me by e-mailing our dentist friends and my Spanish teacher to ask, but I went and got the supplies. I know the people we asked, so I was not afraid of them saying no. People like to help. Next time I will do the e-mails myself.4. Did your parents think you were crazy for wanting to bring 300 toothbrushes and 10 lbs of dictionaries with you on vacation? How did they help?
It ended up being a huge pile of things so they did think I was a little crazy to put it all in a carry on backpack. My sister and I sorted it all and put the toothbrushes and floss into bags of 50. My parents liked it that I wanted to help the kids in the Galapagos.
5. A box of dictionaries is heavy! How did you bring that on the plane with you?
They did make me carry the backpack on the flights all the way from Boston to the Galapagos. The airport in Panama City is really big so I had to take a lot of breaks to get to the Ecuador flight. We brought along all of the paperback dictionaries, but they still weighed a ton! We are saving the hard back dictionaries for our next trip.
6. What great piece of advice would you leave for future travelers to help them feel inspired to pack for a purpose and give back to the local community.
We are so lucky to be able to travel with our family to different countries. I know that not every one has the things they need, so I want to help. My mom says there’s a big difference between need and want. We need to take care of need first. I think Pack with a Purpose is a good company because it helps you know what things are needed in each country. It’s much better than bringing candy.
7. After you delivered the supplies, you set sail for a week long cruise! What was your favorite part of your Galapagos Islands?
My favorite part was seeing all of the unique animals. The penguins and sea lions were so cute, my sister and I wanted to hug them. The hardest part was not touching the animals.
8. What’s next? You mentioned you are going to Cuba in June, do you have plans to get involved with an organization there?
I’d like to, but Pack for a Purpose doesn’t have a partner in Cuba yet. I think I will bring over a few of the dictionaries since people seem to need them and also some baseballs for the people we are staying with. I love playing softball so I think it would be fun to play with the Cuban kids.
Thank you Ellie for sharing your story about how you Packed for a Purpose. We are sure you will help raise awareness and help the kids in the Galapagos.
Following the interview, we found out that Ellie thought it would be cool to set up a student to student connection between her school and one of the middle schools in the Galapagos. Ellie’s mom has been in contact with us at Ecoventura to see if we can help connect the two schools. It would be great if a US school and a Galapagos school connected for language and cultural exchange all because of a family trip to the Galapagos and a determined 11 year old girl!