By Kelly Campbell
Caption: Paul and Lilly Borrud cutting the ribbon to open the new dining hall and kitchen at the school
Philanthropic travel is fast becoming a new trend in the travel industry, especially among families intent on teaching their children the importance of giving back and instilling in them the education that comes with responsible tourism. As co-founder of The Village Experience, I have the privilege of working with all kinds of groups – from university students and yoga practitioners to women’s organizations and community non-profits. When I am approached by a family or a group centered on traveling with children that want to utilize our services in creating the perfect travel experience for them, I am always excited. Teaching our younger generations the importance of philanthropy, breaking down cultural barriers and exploring the world is one of my greatest joys. I envision a more peaceful, tolerant and engaging world when people understand, respect and accept each other. Responsible travel is essential to spreading this message.
In 2014, I was approached by Paul Borrud, father of three daughters from California currently living in Sydney, Australia. He wanted to find more ways to engage with his three little girls and teach them more about the world in a positive and interactive way. He and his buddies came up with a group called Dads ‘n’ Daughters for Kenya. They reached out to me and asked if they could work through The Village Experience and The Village Cooperative to raise money for much needed educational projects in one of our villages. They wanted to involve their daughters in the entire process of fundraising and building awareness. After fundraising, the dads wanted to take the group to Kenya to truly experience the village and be witness to the development in the community that they played a role in facilitating. I loved this idea from the moment Paul mentioned it. I knew immediately that our partner village in Mbita, Kenya would be a great fit and that the interaction between the daughters from California and the kids we support at our school would be a priceless experience for both sides.
Shortly after our initial conversation, Paul Borrud, T.C. Williams and Jim Donaldson and their three daughters, Lilly Borrud, Ella Williams and Katie Donaldson (all age nine) got to work spreading the word about their new endeavor. They created a Crowdrise page and a facebook page and they tapped into countless other media streams by creating personal videos of why this was important to them. The girls worked on presentations for their school, reached out to family and friends and came up with ideas for small fundraisers in their respective communities. After months of hard work, they not only reached their fundraising goal of $15,000, but surpassed it by over $1,500. It was a truly collaborative effort between the families and an amazing way to connect their daughters to a cause greater than themselves.
Caption: Ella, Lilly, and Katie serving lunch to the kids at The Kelly Academy in the new kitchen and dining hall.
In December 2014, the six Dads ‘n’ Daughters hopped on a plane and arrived in Nairobi to embark on their two-week journey. They would be meeting the people they raised money for, participating in the project they funded, learning about conservation of wildlife and partaking in socially responsible tourism practices through The Village Experience. Their journey began in Lake Nakuru National Park where they experienced their first safari and learned about the role the Lake Nakuru Lodge plays in educating the community and protecting wildlife, especially the rhino. The group was able to visit the classroom they funded at Rhino Secondary School on the outskirts of the park and met with the school board to talk about next steps for the project.
After Nakuru, we made the journey to Western Kenya to the town of Mbita, on the shores of Lake Victoria. The group spent several days there meeting the Village Experience team, building houses, interacting with the kids at our primary school, cutting the ribbon to the new dining hall and finalizing plans for the construction of the new classroom, which they made possible.
The interaction between the Dads ‘n’ Daughters group and the children at the school, the women of our self-help group and the administrators was an unbelievable experience. The community in Mbita was blown away that three little girls cared about them enough to help them even though they were all the way on the other side of the world. And the girls gained confidence in their surroundings and were making speeches by the end of the visit instilling hope into the hearts of all those around them.
One of my favorite moments was at dinner when I asked each of the girls to write out on a piece of paper why they give. Their responses were deep and insightful.
Lilly Borrud wrote, “I give because everyone deserves a roof over their head.”
Ella Williams wrote, “I give because I believe in equality.”
Katie Donaldson wrote, “I give because children should have a place to learn.”
I joined in and wrote, “I give because I love the strong women of Kenya.”
From Mbita, we drove south to Lake Naivasha and checked into the Lake Naivasha Crescent Camp. The group participated in a walking safari among the zebra, giraffe, buffalo, gazelles and wildebeest and took a beautiful boat ride among the resident hippos of Lake Naivasha. We learned how important it is to respect and protect nature and to support hotels, eco-lodges and resorts that have an ethical commitment to the community.
After exploring Naivasha, we made the drive to Amboseli National Park, one of the best places in the world to get up close and personal with free ranging elephants. With Mount Kilimanjaro in the background, the safari was epic. We encountered several large herds of the ever diminishing elephant and debated with our guide ways to battle poaching and protect this extremely sensitive and emotional animal. After sightings of hyena, serval cats, wart hogs and lots of haggling with the local Maasai merchants, the Dads ‘n’ Daughters team headed for the airport. We were pleased to see that Safari Link Airlines had “Hands Off Our Elephants” stickers on their planes in support of the First Lady’s anti-poaching initiatives throughout the country.
What I love most about this group is not just their passion to raise money or their willingness to travel halfway around the world, but their long-term commitment to seeing the projects in the community through to completion. We have been home less than a month, but already the group has taken steps to keep track of what the next steps for the community will be. In fact, Paul Borrud created a great video on the process of funding and building a home for a woman in Mbita. Within 24 hours, all 20 homes that needed to be built were funded.
Dads ‘n’ Daughters is now on to finding creative and innovative ways to fundraise for the latrines and the water systems needed at the homes. Now that’s dedication! When I asked Paul why it was important to teach his children to be philanthropists, he replied, “Philanthropy offers you the chance to experience that world and the different cultures that people live in. It also enables you to get right into it and engage with the community rather than looking from the outside in. It’s just a matter of finding the right balance and the right time to get your kids involved where they get it, understand it, and embrace it.”
Paul, T.C., Jim, Lilly, Ella and Katie were complete rock stars during this challenge and created a great model for other families to follow. This group showed the people of Kenya that they were not just friends, but now family. Paul Borrud has since joined our non-profit board for The Village Cooperative, and we are actively working together on future Dads ‘n Daughters philanthropy trips and fundraisers.
To learn more about The Village Experience visit our website at www.experiencethevillage.com or our facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ExperienceTheVillage.
To learn more about ways to get involved with Dads ‘n’ Daughters, visit their facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/dadsndaughtersforkenya
– Kelly Campbell. Co-founder, The Village Experience