It’s February and love is in the air. While you are in a loved up mood, why not share the love with charities this Valentines Day. Studies show that giving to someone else actually makes us happier than spending money on ourselves. It is also good for your health and promotes social cooperation and connection.
So this Valentines Day, love these organisations instead!
Valentines Day: Animal Rights
Animals Asia and Libearty Bear Sanctuary
Sometimes it shocks me just how horrible humans can be towards animals. I recently visited two bear rescue sanctuaries – Libearty Bear Sanctuary in Romania, and Animals Asia rescue sanctuary in Northern Vietnam where I saw the incredible work that these two organisations are doing to give a voice to these abused bears.
In Romania, the rescued bears had been living their lives as tourist attractions in restaurants, shops, circuses or poorly run zoo’s. Thanks to Libearty Bear Sanctuary, over 70 bears have been given a new life, living in relative freedom amongst 66 acres of forests, fresh water pools and lush natural vegetation. Your donations help rescue more bears, provide ongoing veterinary care for the bears that have already been rescued, as well as ongoing education and awareness activities.
Animals Asia is working tirelessly to stop bear bile farming in Vietnam and China. These bears are often kept in tiny cages for up to 30 years so the bile from their gallbladder can be extracted by a farmer. These bears are malnourished and many are drugged, later developing cancer and other diseases. So far, Animals Asia has rescued more than 500 bears. Now, these bears live in semi-natural enclosures with comfortable dens and ongoing veterinary care and rehabilitation.
Your donation will help care for these bears as well as education and awareness activities in China and Vietnam.
Valentines Day: Adventure
Quezteltrekkers is the only all non-profit, all volunteer-run trekking and outdoor association in Guatemala. They are a grassroots charity which organises guided treks and outdoor activities to raise money for street children and at risk youth. They currently help over 200 children with education, housing, nutrition, counselling, rehabilitation and medical care.
If you are in Guatemala or Nicaragua, consider joining Quezteltrekkers on a guided trek. I recently hiked up Tajulmuco, the highest point in Central America, with Quezeltrekkers and cannot recommend them highly enough. Their guides are volunteers who work incredibly hard to provide high quality treks to some of the most beautiful areas in Guatemala.
Valentines Day: Human Rights
Urban Light is an organisation based in Chiang Mai, Thailand, that is dedicated to rebuilding and restoring the lives of boys who are victims of sex trafficking, child prostitution or sexual exploitation. They manage a youth centre which provides social services and support in a safe location to help get these boys off the streets.
Human trafficking is a global issue, however there are very few support services available for male victims, especially those who are victims of sex trafficking. In addition to providing on the ground support for local boys, they also educate and raise awareness about male sexual exploitation both in Thailand and internationally.
Your donation, volunteer work, or fundraising activities would help increase the awareness of these often forgotten victims of human trafficking.
Valentines Day: Experiences
Planning a trip? Give the gift of travel that goes beyond the normal tourist sights – join a tour or activity that is an immersive experience that supports the local community.
Visit.org is an online marketplace for tourism opportunities with community-based organisations that offer visitors a truly unique experience. With Visit.org, you can find small, local tourism operators that act in harmony with their local community. The opportunities are endless – you can learn traditional weaving techniques, get lost in Colombian mangroves, or even learn traditional recipes from a NYC immigrant.
In my role as a Visit.org Travel Ambassador, I joined Sapa O’Chau on a hike through Sapa in Northern Vietnam. The local scenery is breathtaking and at the end of a long day, there is nothing better than soothing your tired feet with a herbal bath and relaxing over dinner and drinks with your host family.
This Valentines Day, give your loved one a gift card and take them on an adventure they will never forget!
Did I forget your favourite charity? Comment below with their details so I can check them out!
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