Meaningful Travels PH marries two passions: traveling and giving back to local communities. Founded by Ann Marie Cunanan, who left her job at a multinational firm to earn a master’s degree in Social Entrepreneurship in Australia, the social enterprise offers an experience unlike any other for the travelers and the beneficiaries alike. Combining a travel experience with the opportunity to help is what Cunanan believes makes the organization a unique advocacy and a memorable experience. “It makes the concept of giving back fun and exciting. It is not the traditional dole-out charity system, and it is also not your regular trip.”
Cunanan, the organization’s “chief explorer,” searches for communities to help, plans activities, and creates partnerships with schools. “After I’ve identified the communities, I come up with an itinerary and I invite people to travel with me and connect with the communities. Meaningful Travels PH is the merging of my love for travel and helping communities. The aspect of entrepreneurship was added to make it a sustainable venture.”
The communities selected also go on to form part of a longer-term partnership. “We explore the beautiful locations, and our travelers give back by supporting the community’s schools. In turn, the schools take on the role of educating our guests about their culture,” Cunanan says. “The residents of the communities teach us their songs and dances, tell us their stories, and share a meal with us as we feast on their delicious and unique cuisines. There is always a synergetic interaction between the two.”
Cunanan says there are also other ways to be involved aside from participating in the travel experience. “Those who have the time and energy can come to the trips and be at the forefront of the action. Others can either give donations or help us pack the school supplies that we give to the children. There is always a place for anyone who wants to help out.” For more information, log on to facebook.com/MeaningfulTravelsPH.