Anne Majumdar

A visit to Kenya to experience a ME to WE trip first-hand has made The Travel Corporation chief executive Brett Tollman “more committed than ever” to help the voluntourism organisation grow.

The travel giant inked a global partnership with ME to WE last September. Under the tie-up, seven TTC brands including Adventure World, Contiki, Insight Vacations, Trafalgar and Uniworld now offer immersive volunteer trips with ME to WE before or after a holiday in Ecuador, India or Kenya.

Kenya ME to WE project Brett Tollman KarryOn

With his family, Tollman opted for the Kenya experience.

“It was a week of learning, exploration, observation and participation,” he reflected.

“We also got an in-depth view of the social change they have brought to the communities in the Maasai Mara over the past 20 years.”

Over that time period, the organisation has helped build schools and clean water wells, provided the first hospital and ambulance service, built farms and helped to empower women. Currently, its efforts are tied up in the building of a college.

The experience has left Tollman determined to provide the support to ME to WE that will ensure their continued growth, enabling them to continue their important work.

ME to WE Kenya project Brett Tollman KarryOn

Central to their efforts is the idea of “giving a hand up, not a hand out” to the people of the communities where they are involved, making the model “truly sustainable”.

“We were all blown away,” Tollman said.

“This entire region of Kenya has been lifted out of despair, and the hope and excitement is palpable.”

Each ME to WE Trip takes place in a community where it puts its 20-year history of holistic, sustainable development to work through its WE Villages program.

Half of ME to WE’s net profits are donated while the other half is reinvested to grow the enterprise and its social mission.

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The Kenya program which allows clients to live alongside Maasai and Kipsigis communities has so far been most popular under the partnership, Adventure World managing director Neil Rodgers confirmed.

But the “compactness” of all of the itineraries has seen agents successfully incorporate them into larger itineraries.

“The ME to WE trips are the cornerstone responsible travel program of TTC’s TreadRight Foundation,” he told KarryOn.

“Each of the TTC brands message TreadRight and its initiatives on a near daily basis via our sales team with their agency networks and through all of our marketing communications.”

 

Have you ever had a voluntourism experience?