Give Back Update :: Early 2017

Hi everyone! It's been a while since we written to you about our Give Back Initiative and we had some exciting new updates. Since the beginning of 2017 we've donated several thousands of dollars to our Give Back partners in Bali, India, and Morocco! Thanks to our guests who've helped make this possible. We believe that we can all "Do Good & Travel Well" and also connect in a meaningful way to the cultures where we visit.


In January, during our retreat in Bali, the entire group was able to participate in a Batik Dye class with our Give Back Partner, Threads of Life. Threads of Life is a fair trade business that works with culture and conservation to alleviate poverty in rural Indonesia along with the Bebali Foundation. This Indonesian non-profit organization helps hundreds of weavers who live in remote, under-developed villages turn textiles, crafts, and other expressions of their local cultures into badly needed income in a way that is environmentally sustainable, promotes cultural integrity, and empowers women. The weaving communities we work with have provided the foundation with a “mandate” of issues that they want addressed, in three general areas: incubating community businesses, managing forests and natural resources, and nurturing traditional culture.


During our class, which was held in a beautiful botanic garden that housed many of the plants used in weaving and dying techniques, we all had the chance to learn about the batik technique and try it out on our own, each creating a piece we got to take home. Then we visited the Threads of Life gallery in Ubud where the beautiful pieces from around Indonesia are displayed and for sale. I think most of our guests took home a unique work of art which all helps to promote and sustain the culture and principles of this fantastic organization! Thanks to Thread of Life for an amazing day and experience and to our guests for participating and giving back! 


On our Goa, India retreats we partner with the humanitarian group, Magic Bus . Their India Foundation works with children and youth from some of India's most underprivileged backgrounds, and engages them through sport to deliver messages around the areas of education, gender, health and livelihood. The program then helps to bridge the gap between possibility and opportunity through access to training and various education courses. In 2016 we were able to visit first-hand the change that they are having in communities. Erin and Julian (the leaders of this retreat) visited the area of Baina, Goa and the impoverished number of families that were living there - and the positive impact that Magic Bus is having for the children there and their education. Our donation last year went to buy school bags and books for the current school year.

This year, our donation is going towards the training of Community Youth Leaders (young adult volunteers from communities in India where they work) on a residential training course to learn how to deliver the Magic Bus programme to children in their communities. When we met with the team in Baina last year, we were introduced to some of the CYLs there and saw what a big impact they were having with the younger children, so we're so honored to be able to help in some way! Thanks again, Magic Bus, for the difference you're making in India and to our guests who helped make our donation possible.


Just last month we held two March retreats in Marrakesh, and the leaders of each retreat were able to take part in the leading of education sessions with our non-profit partner, Project Soar Morocco. This was our first Give Back Partner and we're so happy to have been working with them for many years now. Project Soar uplifts underprivileged communities through art, design and movement. Cultural constraints sometimes allow girls fewer opportunities, so they seek to empower girls to grow strong, smart and creative. They also bring beauty to communities through art, rehabilitation and cleanup projects, helping them thrive for years to come.

Our first retreat was lead by EPM collaborator, Jen Carter, who was able to lead a mindfulness yoga/mediation session for both the young girls of PS, and also their mothers - at it was International Women's Day! Then the next week, leaders Erin Lewis (EPM founder) led a yoga class while Julian Hyzler (EPM collaborator) worked with the girls on a creativity project, creating an amazing mandala board! Besides having a hand-on experience with the impact that PS is making in the community, EPM was able to make a big contribution to the group this spring as well to continue the life-changing efforts. It's been a pleasure to see the growth of the girls and thanks to our guests who make it possible for our part in it! 

(Watch below for a glimpse into our sessions in March which begin with these affirmations at the start of the day: "I am strong. I am smart. I am capable. I am worthy. Girl Power!")