How would your life be different if you had never learned to read?
If you live in the United States or Canada or Australia or any of a number of other first-world countries, it is kind of hard to fathom never learning to read.
I know I can’t imagine it. I was a bookworm growing up. I eagerly anticipated trips to the library and always checked out the maximum 10 books at a time. I grew up reading about the adventures of the Bobbsey Twins and Nancy Drew and went through adolescence with the Baby-Sitter’s Club and Sweet Valley High. Reading a book about Catherine the Great when I was in high school sparked my life-long fascination with Russia and years later, reading a book about Cleopatra motivated me to explore Egypt.
It is safe to say that if I had never learned to read, I would not be where I am today.
But for over 300 million children worldwide, not learning to read is a sad reality.
Room to Read is trying to change that. Founded in Nepal just over a decade ago, the organization has reached over five million children and has a goal of improving literacy for 10 million children by the year 2015. They build schools and libraries, distribute books and run educational programs in countries like Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Laos, Nepal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Zambia.
Room to Read is also the beneficiary of Passports with Purpose 2011 – the travel blogging community’s annual fundraiser. Last year, Passports with Purpose raised nearly $65,000 to help build 25 homes in a village in India.
This year’s goal is to raise $80,000 to build libraries in Zambia.
Here is how you can help:
Dozens of travel bloggers are offering up some fabulous prizes in connection with this fundraiser. For every $10 donation you make, you get an entry into a drawing to win the prize of your choice. All donations go directly to Room to Read (minus a small PayPal processing fee).
And let me tell you, there are some pretty freaking awesome prizes to be won.
Looking for a romantic getaway? Your $10 donation could get you a $500 gift certificate for BedandBreakfast.com (via LandLopers).
Interested in a small group tour off the beaten path? Your $10 donation could win you $500 off a tour booking with Intrepid Travel (via SpunkyGirl Monologues).
Thinking of checking out Eastern Europe with your pals? Your $10 donation could get you a 5-night stay in Budapest at the Town Hall Apartments for you and 3 friends (via Inspiring Travellers).
Want to spend the weekend in an apartment in Berlin, Barcelona, Paris, Rome or Florence? Your $10 donation could get you a $500 voucher for an apartment stay (via OttsWorld).
Ever thought of exploring Europe by train? Your $10 donation could get you a 15-day 1st class Eurail pass (via BootsnAll).
Dreaming of seeing the Tournament of Roses Parade in person? Your $10 donation could get you a 5-day package including grandstand seats for the parade and a private viewing of the floats (via Mira Terra Travel).
Is the Canadian wilderness your thing? Your $10 donation could get you an 8-day wilderness tour in Jasper and Banff with G Adventures (via LegalNomads).
Longing for the beaches of Hawaii? Your $10 donation could get you 4 nights in Maui (via DeliciousBaby), 2 nights in Kauai (via NoVacationRequired), 4 nights in Oahu (via the ohana mama) or 5 nights on the Kohala Coast of the Big Island (via Wanderlust and Lipstick).
Or how does a bike tour in Thailand sound? Your $10 donation could get you an 8-day cycling tour from Bangkok to Koh Samui with Beyond Boundaries Travels (via Lola Akinmade).
These are just a few examples of the amazing prizes that could be yours – and all you have to do is donate $10.
Just $10 – what you might spend in a day for a lunch with friends, a couple coffees at Starbucks or a glass of wine at happy hour.
Just $10 and you can win an incredible prize while directly helping build libraries in Zambia and giving dozens of children the opportunity to learn to read that we often take for granted.
According to Room to Read, if every child received an education, 171 million people would be lifted out of poverty.
Your $10 donation can make a difference.
Follow the links above for more details on those prizes – and for some personal stories about why these bloggers are participating in Passports with Purpose.
To see a full list of prizes (including hotel stays, travel gear, electronics, gift certificates, tours and more!) and to make a donation, visit the Passports with Purpose Donation page. The fundraiser runs through December 16, 2011 and prize winners will be announced on December 23.