When people talk about travel that makes a difference, what usually comes to mind is a vacation spent volunteering, doing missions or service. Painting a classroom for a village school. Pouring concrete floor for a poor family’s new home. Teaching children how to read and write.

 

Those opportunities are worthwhile and there are plenty of organizations that do them well. Some people, though, want to have relaxing vacation—and know their vacation makes a difference. By partnering with a company that invests in social mission, they can.

 

We partner with people in Sa Pa, Vietnam whose mission it is to help school children. Extreme poverty denies so many children in the villages the opportunity for education, healthy food, and clean water. But in a sprinkling of villages there is hope!

 

A couple of years ago, we got to visit one of these villages. We hiked up a small mountain one very warm sunny day.

 

hiking in Sa Pa travel gives back

Although a bumpy road leads to the village, we took the shortcut!

 

The kids around the village are very poor.

 

children in Sa Pa travel gives back

 

Home north of Sa Pa travel gives back

 

Forget a balanced meal of fruit, vegetables, and any protein. A typical lunch for these children is a cup of rice topped with a single chili pepper.

 

And they live in a dangerous area. It’s not unusual for women ages 18-36 to be kidnapped as brides and taken across the border. One young man we met in the village now raises his three younger brothers. Their mother was a victim of bride-kidnapping. And then there’s this little boy…

 

an orphan in Sa Pa - travel gives back

This boy has no mother. She was kidnapped to be a bride in nearby China.

 

AND YET there are pockets of joy here because of a handful of people who love God and care for these kids, people Niteo Tours partners with. The village now has a simple road that covers some of the rougher patches in the rutted road leading up to the village. They now have a school building.

 

school room in Sa Pa travel gives back

Vietnam is a country that uses the Roman alphabet.

 

 

And sometimes a donation is given for a meal with meat!

 

Once a special treat was donated to the school children. Along with their cup of rice, each child received one chicken leg. Two brothers and a sister thought this was a feast! They had to share it with their family at home. So they shared one chicken leg between the three of them, savoring each nibble, and wrapped up the other two chicken legs to take home to the rest of the family.

 

We had a chance to give the school children in this village bowls full of noodles, veggies, and meat.

 

girl eating noodles - travel makes a difference

 

And a treat of ice cream–FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME!

 

Hmong children Sa Pa - travel gives back

Hmong children near Sa Pa tasting ice cream for the first time.

 

When you partner with those making a difference in people’s lives, travel can make a difference.

 

Travel in a way that gives back!

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