This is about how travel led me to dream up a non-profit organization and a team of friends I could never imagine before! Girls Empowered by Travel – is a project of girls and boys, women and men, inspired by the educational and transformative nature of travel.
While traveling the world, I noticed how exclusive travel was. That’s how the idea of Girls Empowered by Travel was born, in 2016. I wanted to promote travel among the people, particularly girls, all over the world – especially in places where travel is not really accessible for girls and not very common.
The idea was to establish local chapters around the world, called Girls Travel Circles (GTCs), which will be creating opportunities for local girls to travel. We are talking local travel here. The idea is to encourage girls to get out of their everyday surroundings (i.e. villages that they never leave), go explore and learn experientially.
We wanted to go beyond the idea of just traveling and add a community service/ projects element to it. This is what we call meaningful travel. By meaningful travel we understand that the girls from the start put some meaning, or mission, in their travels. It can be creating spaces for girls and women, capacity (skills) building, social engagement, community development and other positive changes in women’s and community lives.
We define the overall mission of GET as to empower girls through travel and community service. Girls get to travel around their own area, learn something, do something amazing, benefitting their communities, while having fun with their friends!
For now we have only one GTC – in Nepal. The country that stole my heart almost three years ago, when I hiked to the Everest Base Camp and volunteered in a Buddhist monastery. It’s such a gorgeous country, so many backpackers come to hike and sightsee every year. But you’d hardly ever see locals traveling around, unless they are tour guides. And traveling local girls are very rare to spot.
Long story short, through the jungle of internet I met my future sister Sajana Bhadel, who eventually became the chairperson of the board of Girls Empowered by Travel – Nepal. September 11, 2017 GET Nepal got officially registered.
Up till now, it’s been a fun and bumpy road. Looking for our voice and niche, we started with trying different things: a day summer camp for girls in Changunarayan Village, all-girl futsal tournament in Nepal, educational hikes, etc.
Right now our main projects are:
- HITAISHI – Rural-Urban Girl Exchange – probably the most successful project of ours.
- NAANI – providing education to kids, whose families live and work at brick kiln factories, trying to prevent children from dropping out of school and eventually preventing child labor.
- Cultural HOMESTAY in a UNESCO Heritage village Changunarayan.
- And we are starting a new project – VOLUNTEERING program at an ethnic village of Gre, located in the Himalayas (more in the next post:)
Working on Girls Empowered by Travel gave me an idea to start Adventure Travelz, bringing people authentic and even transformational travel experiences. Also during Adventure Travelz trips we aspire to economically support local communities – the importance of which we clearly saw doing our Girls Empowered by Travel projects.
During our Nepali trips Adventure Travelz will be supporting GET Nepal activities. Let’s travel with a meaning!