Bringing books to Zambia: Passports with Purpose 2011

Mulenga enjoys a library (courtesy Room to Read and PwP)It’s not often that I’m able to make a direct connection between Zambia and the small Texas town of Bastrop.

Thanks to this year’s Passports with Purpose – the annual travel bloggers’ fundraiser – I can support both education in Africa and a town near me that is recovering from terrible wildfires.

We’re working to raise US$80,000 through PwP to build two libraries in southern and eastern Zambia.  Wow. That’s the building construction, all the books and educational materials, teacher training and support for three years.

Last year we raised enough money (mostly in US$10 increments) to build an entire village in southern India in partnership with Friends of LAFTI.  This year, PwP is partnering with Room to Read for the libraries.

It works rather like a raffle – in addition to the goodie we’re showcasing below, you can browse through this full list of travel-related prizes and bid for chances to win whichever ones appeal to you.  At the end of the fundraiser – it runs through December 16, 2011 – one winner of each prize will be randomly selected from all of those who have bid for it.  A $10 donation per bid is suggested, but if you don’t want to make a donation, mail one self addressed stamped envelope to: Passports with Purpose, P.O. Box 16102, Seattle WA 98116.  Include the name of the prize you are entering to win.

A huge thank you to Hyatt Hotels, who sponsored the prize featured here on the Perceptive Travel Blog:  a two-night stay at the lovely Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa in Bastrop (near Austin.)

Hyatt Lost Pines horses take guests out (courtesy Hyatt Lost Pines on Facebook)

This prize is special to me because I enjoyed a stay at the resort with my family awhile back;  the room was nice and comfy, food was very good, the staff was helpful and friendly and the water park/pool area (complete with a Lazy River) was a huge hit.

We didn’t get around to some of the other recreational offerings on the Colorado River running through the property, or in the adjacent 1,100-acre McKinney Roughs Nature Park, but that simply means we’ll have to return!

More importantly, the unique Lost Pines area where the Resort is located suffered absolutely devastating wildfires this past September. Record high temperatures, particularly severe drought and high winds contributed to the destruction of most of the distinctive loblolly pines, two people were killed and 1600+ homes burned.

Hyatt Lost Pines Wolfdancer golf course (courtesy Hyatt Lost Pines on Facebook)

It was the most destructive single wildfire in Texas history, and I could smell and see the smoke from it in my front yard more than 30 miles north.

Consequently, even though the quaint Main Street town of Bastrop (a National Trust Distinctive Destination) and the Hyatt Lost Pines Resort are just fine and are open for business, tourism has suffered and the downtown Bastrop businesses are struggling to convince visitors that the whole town didn’t burn down.

Offering this prize is one small way to both support Passports with Purpose and highlight the recovery of a special place.

For a chance to win this prize or one of many others, go here to the PwP Prize List/Donate page and follow the directions.

(Note: our Hyatt Lost Pines prize is for a two-night stay 1/1/2012 – 12/30/2012. It’s good for nights Sunday through Thursday – based on availability – and is not valid during holiday periods or Spring Break.)

Thanks for your support of Passports with Purpose, and I look forward to showing off some photos of the libraries in Zambia in the next year or so.

Update May 2012:  Part of the PwP organizing crew traveled to Zambia to see one of the libraries that YOU built. Thanks again!

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