lisbon, portugal: impactrip
Before I go to a new city, I always google and instagram social impact related things to get a glimpse at what is out there and what I am looking to explore. Given that Lisbon was my first stop, I was so excited to come across the Portugal-based organization ImpacTrip http://www.impactrip.com/ as they do exactly what I was looking for: volunteer tourism! (*check it out!!!*) The goal is for travelers to make an impact while they are visiting Portugal. I was so excited to find this opportunity and the founder, Rita, was so incredibly helpful in working with me to find a track during my visit.
ImpacTrip supports a variety of causes and interests for travelers. The experiences (diving, beach, city, nature) help social causes (hunger, environment, education, disabilities, poverty, animals) across multiple cities in Portugal. Each traveler can select the one they would like to participate in and the length of time to do so. I have not found many organizations of this calibre while traveling that enable you to volunteer even for just a day to give back and absorb more of the local culture.
My day consisted of an eco TukTuk tour in Belem followed by lunch and a day with Rita at an NGO for people with disabilities. The center works to provide people with fun and opportunities to develop skills. It is filled so much creativity from arts and crafts to radio and everything in between! These are my new friends, who are the absolute sweetest and helped teach me the Portuguese way with kisses on both cheeks!
From lunch outside in the garden to walking around the center meeting people and hearing their stories and experiences, I felt so much warmth and love and had the biggest smile the whole day. At the end I visited the shop that the people I had met run and saw all of their amazing hand-crafted goods! My TukTuk driver's name was Pedro so we took this photo for him! Quite fitting.
I am so grateful for Rita/ImpacTrip and the opportunity to volunteer directly in the community only a few days into my trip! It was incredibly inspiring to speak with Rita about her experience starting the organization. Similar to me, she had worked for a few years and took time off to travel. While traveling in Asia, she came up with the idea for ImpacTrip and brought it back to Portugal. Her company now has 6 people who take tons of volunteers on tracks throughout the year. Even more so, given their local presence, you are assured that you are volunteering responsibly and are going to be immersed in the culture.
ImpacTrip's vision combines all of my favorite things: helping people, with a smile, locally, creatively, while traveling <3 <3 <3. I only wish this existed in every country I visit!