In November we were truly honoured to have ME to WE receive a World Tourism Award for its years of outstanding work in sustainable travel. This was an incredibly humbling recognition, and we couldn’t have been more excited to be acknowledged alongside our good friends at Virtuoso, who truly pioneered giving back through travel.
We are always so grateful to be able to continue growing ME to WE and expanding its impact, not only because it’s made a life-changing difference for thousands of people in the communities we work with internationally, but because it’s a powerful way to share our love of volunteer service. The opportunity to volunteer internationally has been absolutely transformational for myself and my brother Craig Kielburger, the co-founder of WE.
Craig and I were forever shaped by the opportunities we had to connect with new people around the world, and we had the wonderful opportunity to start very young. Craig’s initial trips to combat child labour in south Asia and India, and the journeys Roxanne and I took to Kenya when this movement was still just beginning set the stage for the life-changing trips we offer today.
When we returned from these trips and shared how they’d opened our eyes to the challenges people in these regions were facing, many other young activists wanted to know how they could follow in our footsteps. We heard over and over again “how can I go there” and “I want to volunteer for these communities as well”. Unfortunately, at the time we never had a good answer for them. Large-scale tourism wasn’t available in these areas, and you had to stay in-country longer than most travellers were comfortable. Not to mention the fact that safety was still a persistent issue for informal visits.
This is why we began ME to WE Trips. We wanted to remove these challenges and allow young people to have the same life-changing experiences we benefitted so deeply from. Even better, with WE Charity already established in these communities, we knew that we could put the proceeds of these trips straight back into the regions our guests visited.
Originally geared towards young people, but now equally offered to adult, family and corporate groups, these experiences keep an educational format and have created an amazing sense of community between those undertaking the service work and the thousands of people around the world who have benefitted from their support. The connections they build are lifelong, and it’s these bonds that are truly eye-opening for our travellers. The chance to meet new people from entirely different cultures and see how similar we all really are, and then to roll up your sleeves and help your new friends with the creations of classrooms and water projects is what makes these trips so powerful and unique.
Creating these experiences and expanding them over the past decade-and-a-half has been such an incredible journey for us, and we are so touched that the team at the World Tourism Awards shares our deep-rooted enthusiasm. We look forward to continuing this work with amazing partners like Virtuoso as we collectively strive to change the face of global travel for the better.