“Heidi, what you’re doing is inspiring me to dream bigger.”
Those are not the words I expected to hear time and time again, when I first considered committing to this project. I expected my friends to see my fundraising efforts as a burden or annoyance. The annoyance was not what I wanted, and I was determined to raise money in a way that would contribute to my own community, not just take away from it to pass along to another. Already, only a few weeks into that process, I’ve discovered that it’s a fantastic adventure, with all sorts of highlights, pitfalls, twists and turns. The sweetest highlight is the amazing feedback I’ve been receiving, that this work inspires people to make their own changes… and I’ve discovered that this project has a secondary mission: to keep encouraging that.
Volunteerism is, beautifully, growing in popularity, and there are a lot of people who want their travel to be something meaningful that gives back to the planet, and not just another vacation. Program fees can often be prohibitive though, as it’s the volunteers’ contributions that generally cover all the materials, administrative, and other costs of the projects they’re contributing to. This book is intended to be an entertaining way-shower for people who want to provide important help to our global community, in a publicly supported way that allows their local communities to play a visible part in the brother/sister hood of humankind as well. It won’t be a comprehensive how-to guide, it will simply be my story. But it will showcase the lessons and necessary psychological shifts I’m encountering along this road, in order to live this dream. It will also tell the story of one group’s work in the remote traditional mountain communities of Peru, sure to be rich with mystical synchronicities, wise shamans, and the unplanned adventures of remote trekking.
The book, currently titled 58 Days to Peru: (Adventures in Commitment, Fundraising, and International Volunteerism), is just as much a public service project as the water tower construction it chronicles. I’m writing as I work through the fundraising and travel preparation process, to be sure that no helpful or amusing information gets lost in the shuffle. When I return from Peru in June, I’ll continue writing the chapters dedicated to the culminating experience of the service trip itself, and spend much of 2012 pulling the story together into its most engaging and educational format. Any additional funds raised beyond the $2,600 necessary for the trip itself will then be used to further enhance the book’s ability to stir inspiration and action, through professional editing, and its potential to reach the most minds through attractive cover design and effective promotion. The book will be released in both electronic and paper formats, with the intention of adding fire to the building momentum to be problem-solvers in our global community, particularly among our youth. An adventuresome tale of far-away travel and raising money through throwing parties (among other things), is uniquely suited to capture young minds, and stoke young hearts into global citizenship, in a way that I think is critical to the health of our entire society. This is my small contribution to that future, and I am so grateful for your partnership in igniting that fire.