Guest ITW: The Muskoka Foundation

Friday's word with
The Muskoka Foundation

The Inukshuk stone sculpture
The Muskoka Foundation was an idea born on the road by people just like you and wondering how they could do good wherever they go. So if you are traveling around the world and want to contribute in the development of the communities you are visiting, read this interview to know more about the foundation.
This is a non-partisan, secular, founded in 2009, registered non-profit organization in the United States. Their vision is to transform the adventure travel sector by including ethical volunteering as a standard part of every traveler's plans, and therefore create a fleet of hundreds of modern day explorers, who are traveling and developing communities around the world, leaving a wake of positive change.

I wanted to introduce you this amazing project, and in order to do this, Daniel Anggara, who works for the Foundation, answered to my questions and I thank him. 

Treasure Autor: How did you have the idea of the Muskoka Foundation?
Daniel Anggara: "First of all, you may wonder what “Muskoka” is. Muskoka is a regional municipality in Ontario, Canada. Jay and Alice, the founders of our foundation really love that place. The Muskoka region is our logo, the Inukshuk stone sculpture, can be found. While you are interviewing me on this, I might as well explain to you as well why we chose our logo. The Inukshuk is a stone sculpture, that looks like a person opening wide their arms. This sculpture has a history that dated to hundreds of years ago. Travelers historically used the Inukshuk to help other travelers, by providing directions. Travelers would construct the sculptures when they were passing by harsh places, to provide directions to the next travelers, of nearby communities, and watering holes. It was a know fact that travelers should not move or destroy an Inukshuk as it was a very crucial way of travelers to survive while traveling the harsh paths. The strength of the sculptures was due to how those sculptures work together to point to a direction."

T.A.: Why this Name?
D.A.: "We feel like we are doing something symbolically very similar to the Inukshuks. We create a network of travelers that help each other help the world. Travelers work together to give back to the world, and we hope that this will create waves of travelers doing good as they go, transferring their skills wherever they go. Our role here is to provide a platform for travelers to connect, and to empower them to do good. We provide equipment and curricula as well as the training needed by travelers to do good, at no cost to the travelers! You can say that we match travelersʼtime and skills with equipment and training."

T.A.: Could you give us examples of volunteers' works?
D.A.: "Certainly! Travelers can do good with us in many ways. The first one would be for travelers to help our partners by giving them skills. Our partners are organizations that are doing good in their local communities. They can be a school, an orphanage, youth development centers, etc. Our partners are where we send our travelers to volunteer. What our volunteers bring is normally skills that can help our partners come closer to sustainability. Practically, this looks like travelers holding workshops in our partnersʼ communities, and teaching them some skills that can be used there. For example, recently in a very remote community in Malawi, two travelers taught the locals how to garden, and together they built terraces so that the locals could start putting into practice what they learned! Travelers can also help in other ways. Some communities have livelihood products that need to be marketed, and in many places it is a challenge. 

Travelers with business instincts and skills can help marketing those products.
Travelers can also help by helping us find potential partners. People donʼt have to be traveling to help! We have people who help us market products created by communities in third world countries right from where they are. Having a market access can provide sustainability the livelihood projectsʼparticipants. Or people can help us develop curricula for our workshops. From health care, gardening, science, to English curricula, we welcome help from willing skillful people! 
Last but not least, we need help in raising awareness of what we do. As you can probably tell, this model only works if a number of people are willing to give their time and skills to the places they go to. The more people are aware and inspired by the cause, the more good can be done worldwide. So we appreciate any exposure that people can bring to this network of travelers. Since we have limited resources and we do not make money off of our travelers, we do not have any budget for marketing, like other organizations do. All the more, we appreciate peopleʼs help in inspiring other travelers to do good with us!"

T.A.: Why volunteers have to choose your association despite another?
D.A.: "There are many organizations out there that can help you do good as you go. Voluntourism has been a growing industry. Most voluntourism organizations charge travelers to volunteer. The most obvious way we are different than other most other voluntourism organizations is that we do not charge travelers any fee to do good with us. Another way we are different than most other voluntourism organizations is that we create a network of travelers to help each other. Most of our partner organizations where our volunteers do good work were recommended by our travelers. Our travelers can help us find partner organizations that the next travelers after them can go and do good at!"

 "Go into the world, and do well, but more importantly.
Go into the world and do good.
The Muskoka Foundation.

T.A.: If a traveler wants to become a volunteer, what is the process to take part of one of your projects? There is a contract to build?
D.A.: "The process is quite simple, really. We will ask them to tell us about how they would like to work with us. If they would like to volunteer, then we will ask them to give us their itineraries, so we can inform them of possible locations to do good along their routes. Then we will inform them of our expectations as well as our local partnersʼorganizationsʼ, and we will hear what our travelersʼexpectations are. Then, we will ask them to get some background check (some partners require that) and sign a traveler agreement. We will then provide the curricula and the training ahead of time, so travelers can prepare. Other equipment that may be needed will be shipped directly to our partners, if we can provide them with it. After that, we will connect the travelers to the partner organizations, 4-6 weeks before their planned arrival time, so details can be taken care of. If you are interested, just fill out this form and we will get back to you: Link to the form. Thank you!"

And because it's always better to see people who are behind such projects, watch this: 

For more information, they have a FAQ's answers on their website: FAQ
Thanks to the Muskoka Foundation for their work. I am proud to contribute in their huge project from my computer, with my little article.

This entry was posted on Jul 20, 2012 and is filed under ,,,. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.

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