Tag Archives: raw travel tv

The Impact of Raw Travel on Endangered Rhinos

Care For Wild Africa 

People say I have a great “job”, and I do, but producing Raw Travel is also a ton of work and sacrifice. I’m 99% sure I could make more $ doing something else, but I figured out a while back that old cliche about $ and happiness is actually true.  The impact of the show and feedback from viewers is one big part of the reason we carry on. At times I wonder if the show is having an actual impact other than entertainment, but then I hear stories like this Toronto gentleman who saw Raw Travel last year (we’re not licensed in Canada so I assume he saw the Buffalo or Detroit feed).

After tuning into our story on Care For Wild Africa/ African Conservation Experience this gentleman booked a trip to volunteer for them in South Africa and has returned a changed man. He’s telling others about his transformation and about this critical issue as rhinos near extinction. Here is his story and I thought I’d share it.  P.S. You can see our segment on the CFWA again this summer in “Amazing Animals” July 1st-2nd, 2017.

A link to his story can be found HERE:

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Houston – It’s a Wrap!

 

First time filming in Houston, Texas and what an AMAZING experience. Visiting Houston is like visiting several destinations in one swoop.

Like the state where it resides, Texas, Houston is BIG. Massive actually. It’s literally the size of a small state.

But what many may not know is that it’s also very diverse.

We ate a scrumptious Viet-Cajun feast, got outfitted in a custom cowboy hat & boots, participated in a ancient Chinese calligraphy and a tea ceremony in Chinatown and I learned to dance to Zydeco music with the “Queen of Zydeco” at a cajun honky tonk all while taking in some of the quirkiest art scenes I’ve ever experienced and eating some of the most amazing internationally influenced cuisine I’ve ever had the pleasure of trying.

It was unusually cold (my lips are still chapped), but the people were so warm and hospitable I didn’t feel the chill.

Thank you Houston, for your hospitality and for your kindness and yes for your diversity and quirkiness.

Be big…be Houston…but please don’t ever change, ’cause I love ya just the way you are!

Here is a clip from my appearance  on KPRC – NBC 2’s “Houston Life” . Enjoy!

 

Help Free Child Slaves in Haiti

Freedom House is featured d on Raw Travel 406 – Port Au Prince. They are a U.S. supported charity helping to free poverty stricken “restaveks” (child slaves).

A restavek is a child that has been given to another family as a servant in hopes to have their basic needs met. If you see the segment, you will see how incredible these children are now that they are surrounded by love. Freedom House is not a huge bureaucratic organization with a lot of waste.

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They are small and grassroots and just the kind of organization we like to shine the light on.

If you are so moved after seeing this weekend’s episode and would like to help Freedom House rescue more children, you can donate and support HERE.

A little goes a long way in Haiti, so no amount is too small.

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Raw Travel Expands Global Footprint Into Asia With Nat Geo People

–  Nat Geo People Asia Picks up Hit Travel Series from the U.S.

New York, NY – October 13th, 2016 – AIM Tell-A-Vision® Group (AIM TV) announced today that Nat Geo People recently acquired Asian territorial rights to certain episodes of their production, Raw Travel®, the U.S.A.’S #1 most watched syndicated adventure travel & lifestyle series. The series began broadcasting on Nat Geo People in a variety of Asian territories earlier last month.

The announcement is just the latest in a string of licensing deals from Raw Travel’s international distributor Off the Fence Distribution, who has also inked several other deals for the series in territories in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and on a variety of airlines the past several months.

Off the Fence is responsible for licensing Raw Travel (58 x 30’) to media outlets outside of the United States and represents the show at global television markets, including the upcoming market MIPCOM later this month.

Raw Travel is a 30 minute adventure travel & lifestyle series that incorporates two of the fastest growing segments of travel: eco-tourism & voluntourism. The fast paced show focuses on authentic experiences to often off-the-beaten-path destinations as well as other more mainstream destinations. The show recently debuted its 4th season in U.S. Syndication in the United States in 159 cities representing over 93% of U.S. television households.

“We are excited about working with Nat Geo People in Asia and in continuing to work with Off the Fence to expand our international audience even as our U.S. fan base continues to expand” stated Robert G. Rose, Executive Producer and Host. “Raw Travel’s unique perspective and positive message of socially consciousness living among an inclusive worldwide community resonates with global audiences. We are eager to welcome our new viewers and friends from across the globe and let them know we are proud to be citizens of the world with them.”

Visit www.RawTravel.tv  and www.RawTravelTrailer.com for more information.

“RAW TRAVEL” IS A FIRM GO FOR SEASON 4 IN 150+ CITIES & 93% OF THE U.S.!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

AIM Tell-A-Vision Group /Rawtravel@aimtvgroup.com /www.RawTravel.tv

“RAW TRAVEL” IS A FIRM GO FOR SEASON 4 IN 150+ CITIES & 93% OF THE U.S.!

–   Fourth Straight Year of Growth for Nation’s Leading Authentic Travel Show –

 NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 15th, 2016  – AIM Tell-A-Vision® Group (AIM TV) announced today that their production “Raw Travel®” is firm go for its 4th season of production and syndication this fall. Season 4 will debut in October via broadcast stations in over 150 U.S. cities representing approximately 105 million homes and 93% of U.S. TV homes.

With distribution partner Bright-Line Distribution, Raw Travel has added several new markets in its station lineup as well as securing both time period and station upgrades in many areas including New York, Baltimore, Memphis and Chattanooga among others.

Raw Travel’s current third season has pulled in a record number of viewers with increases often surpassing +50% year to year growth, extending its lead as “the most watched authentic travel show on U.S. commercial television” for a second straight season.  Raw Travel’s appeal to male & female demographics, its ability to attract younger viewers to broadcast TV and maintain or grow the older demographic from lead-in programming means that Raw Travel is often consistently ranked #1 or #2 in key demos and time-slots in many major U.S. markets.

“Four years of steady growth is very unusual in today’s media environment, especially with almost zero in paid marketing. We began producing Raw Travel as a grass roots show, just as research began reflecting  that people were craving authentic experiences,” says Executive Producer and Host, Robert G. Rose. “It’s very satisfying to know that our style of ‘do it yourself’, positive storytelling can win the day over shows or entire networks, with many times the resources.”

Raw Travel has also greatly expanded its international footprint on major networks in territories such as Asia, Europe, the Pacific Rim and Africa, and in 2016 will see the launch of long awaited “Over the Top” offerings for previous seasons in the library allowing viewers to “look back”.

For Season 4, the producers have preliminary plans to film a diverse group of destinations, including the Caribbean, Latin America, Asia, Europe and North America.

Raw Travel is an adventure travel & lifestyle series showcasing the wave of socially and environmentally aware, independent travel. The series weaves together themes of eco-tourism, volun-tourism (giving back) with underground music and authentic culture in a way unique to television.

The website http://www.RawTravel.tv features more information about the series and the link at www.RawTravelTrailer.com showcases a short video trailer.

# # #

ABOUT RAW TRAVEL TV

Raw Travel is the most watched authentic travel show on U.S. commercial television and is a soft adventure travel & lifestyle series showcasing the wave of socially and environmentally aware, independent travel. The series weaves together themes of eco-tourism, volun-tourism (giving back) with underground music and authentic culture in a unique way. Each weekend the show is seen in over 150 U.S. cities, by over 750,000 viewers, and in several international territories (Asia, Africa, Europe, etc.). It can be found on several major airlines and soon in Over the Top (digital) platforms as well.

ABOUT AIM TELL-A-VISION GROUP

AIM Tell-A-Vision (AIM TV) is an independent content and distribution company founded by media entrepreneur Robert G. Rose. AIM TV aspires to produce and distribute positive, compelling content that reflects its mission of presenting Media That Matters. Visit www.AIMTVGroup.com for more information.

ABOUT BRIGHT-LINE DISTRIBUTION

Bright-Line Distribution is a partnership of syndication veterans Jacqueline Hartley and Nancy Cook. Bright-Line’s mission is to deliver, through high energy and determined efforts, predictable and consistent TV distribution results.

 

 

Finally Africa – Joburg, South Africa

10310536_1066140620076138_8735265405113260083_nThis was my first trip to the fabled continent of Africa so I figured what better country to begin than the so called “Gateway” to the continent, South Africa.  Less official nicknames for South Africa include “Africa Light” or “The Livable Africa”. I get a chuckle out of those because after later visiting Ghana, I realized it’s kind of true.

Johannesburg, South Africa or Joburg as the locals refer to it, is the largest city in South Africa and it’s the commercial center but it’s definitely not why most tourists come to South Africa. That would be Cape Town, the safaris and wildlife at places like Kruger National Park or perhaps the beaches of Durban.

This is precisely why we wanted to dig deeper into Johannesburg.  I firmly believe that in every destination, there is a Raw Travel episode waiting to be teased out, probably several actually. This includes the well-traveled spots (i.e. New Orleans, Prague, Costa Rica, etc…. let’s show another side of it) and the more off-the-beaten-path destinations (i.e. Bratislava, Honduras, Laos, etc….let’s show why this place deserves to be visited).

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Madeba is Beloved

I wasn’t sure what to expect in Johannesburg but two words were on my mind… “gritty” and “dangerous”. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

As you are probably aware, media reports can be wildly subjective and I’ve found, inaccurate. Yet another reason to visit and see it for myself.

The definition of “dangerous” is so relative it’s nearly impossible to define anymore. There is “war zone” danger and there is “everyday” danger.

I believe NYC with its rash of random violence (stabbings on the subways are back) these days, could very well justly be perceived as dangerous, yet I’ve lived here going on 20 years and never had more than a handful of issues that could have easily been avoided and where I came to no harm.

Which is why, I do some research ahead of time and consult not the news media or U.S. government web sites but travel blogs, social media and other travelers before I go.

Turns out Johannesburg WAS dangerous…. 10 years ago.

 

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The Kids of Alexandra Township

Well, since I’m not traveling back in time, Johannesburg needed an update and I intended to do my best to see what was up in this city and this included hitting up the “dangerous” townships and neighborhoods where “poverty” exists.

Granted we were going with guides and granted, I probably would not have gone to these particular spots by myself at night with expensive camera equipment but that is just because I had no reason to, not because I perceived any danger whatsoever at any point. I’d like to think after 50 or so countries my “danger radar” is getting pretty fine-tuned and it ran silent the entire time. That doesn’t happen everywhere. 

The reality is, that in the 3 township tours that we took… Alexandra, Soweto and Hillbrow… I found absolutely zero reason to be concerned and I felt 100% welcomed and almost, I hesitate to say it, but beloved.

I don’t know how else to describe the warmth of feeling when total strangers stop you in the street to hug you.. when kids wave and jump as you pass by and others wildly jump in your arms to give you a big hug and a kiss on the cheek and clap and sing and basically are so full of goodness, and lack of cynicism that I am still emotional typing these words weeks after my visit.

Soweto Bicycle Tours
Rendani & I with Soweto Bicycle Tours

Perhaps I should not have been surprised in a land where the likes of Nelson Mandela and his legacy still loom so large. Madeba is beloved here and it’s infectious.   

But beloved is the word I feel and thus what I will use.

My annoyance quickly faded to true affection for the Joburg Tourism folks and their staffers after they left us hanging at the Joburg airport waiting for a ride for well over an hour (after a 19 hour flight from NYC and after confirming numerous times beforehand that a driver would be meeting us at the airport when we landed). Severely jet lagged, exhausted and facing 16 days of a brutal work and travel schedule with little sleep ahead normally puts me in a somewhat surly mood.

From our driver, now my pal, Mndeni at Zeigen Tours and Rendani at Joburg Tourism and the rest of the crew like our local cameraman Mike Bell (one of the most talented and professional I’ve ever worked with), to Jimmy, a local guide who tagged along… to the dozens of other folks we met on the ground at the different filming locations… their spirit of friendliness and lack of guile completely extracted any negative thoughts or anger issues from my mind. 

But how can they be so happy and joyful? 

Mndeni & I at Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory
Mndeni & I at Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory

This was after all where Apartheid reigned up until just a few years ago. I mean in the U.S. we went through our Civil Rights period in the 1960s and today it seems, if you believe the media at least, race relations are as bad as ever.

Yet in South Africa where apartheid reigned until as recently as the mid-1990s, this was a place that, in my short time there I observed, was so lacking in bitterness and pessimistic thinking, even in the poorest of areas, that I couldn’t help but think “what are we in the U.S. doing wrong?”

Perhaps it’s an unfair comparison, but still… one has to be impressed with the way South Africa and Joburgers in particular have embraced their history. They are not ashamed of it. In fact they almost seem to celebrate it, proud that they found reconciliation or so it seemed to me. Now granted an outsider in town for a very limited amount of time but this is how I saw it.  

Yes, apartheid was a travesty of human relations and people died and were severely mistreated for many, many years but as Madeba instructed through his own extreme example of forgiveness, it appears to have been relegated to the past by most and almost everyone we met seemed focused on the present… a loving and more caring present and an hopeful, optimistic future. 

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Of course there are problems (we witnessed 3 car accidents in our short time there). Of course there is inequality (we stayed at some very nice hotels while the Townships we visited are super raw). Yes, there is a massive difference between the needs of the wealthy vs. the everyday folks but there is no way it could be described as a hotbed of danger, divisiveness and crime as I’d allowed myself to subconsciously believe.  

Johannesburg is by no measure ugly. It’s big, traffic is tough sometimes and it’s spread out, but it’s a place I’d gladly return. But even if it were a hellhole, I’d still go back to be with the people. Because I cannot emphasize this enough, it’s the PEOPLE who put the heart into a place and it’s the people of Johannesburg I will always remember.

With the Crew
With the Crew in Hillbrow

Thank you Joburg for not treating me like a walking ATM or as an outsider or interloper or exploiter, but instead as a fellow human being.

Raw Travel Episode #313 – “We Heart Johannesburg” will premiere in the U.S. April 30th and May 1st in the U.S. Click HERE for tune in info and see more photos from Johannesburg trip HERE. 

With the Rasta / Reggae Band "Tidal Waves"
With the Rasta / Reggae Band “Tidal Waves”

Pine Ridge Reservation – Tribal Tourism

I first heard about the situation in Pine Ridge reservation a few years ago while watching Diane Sawyer profiling the tragic issue of teen suicide there. I pledged then and there that if ever I was able to help the people on the reservation, I would. Finally, during the 4th of July holiday weekend of 2015, I visited Pine Ridge to produce an episode of Raw Travel entitled “Pine Ridge – Tribal Tourism” and my life has never been the same.

This Recently Built Skateboard Park Gets Lots of Use
This Recently Built Skateboard Park Gets Lots of Use

Nothing that specifically extraordinary happened to me on that trip. I simply met regular folks from the reservation who were kind and hospitable to me, a total stranger. But I was very impressed by their resiliency in the face of difficult circumstances.

I was equally impressed by the large number of locals, transplants and volunteers working to help make the situation on Pine Ridge better, especially for Lakota Youth.  I can think of no better way to inspire young people to believe in themselves than to allow them to explore the innate creativity present in all human beings.

Celebrating 4th of July at the Batesland Pow-Wow
Celebrating 4th of July at the Batesland Pow-Wow

I was made aware of the lack of creative outlets by youth on the reservation when I interviewed the local band “Scatter Their Own” where Scotti & Julianna informed me that no music schools existed on the entire reservation. After interviewing the folks at Red Cloud School I thought a good way to help would be to assist their efforts to expand their after school arts program.

I hope we can work with some talented musicians, filmmakers and other artists and entrepreneurs to visit the reservation and speak to the youth on a consistent basis. I’d also like to try to create a small film school. Who knows where, if anywhere this will lead but I do know that to do nothing, is in essence choosing to endorse the status quo, and that I cannot do. Whatever we can contribute, big or small it will help.

Pine Ridge Still Here.. Still Proud TShirt
“Still Here.. Still Proud” Shirts

Even though this fundraising effort kicks off to coordinate with our Raw Travel – Pine Ridge / Tribal Tourism debut, it will be an ongoing effort and will continue as long as there is interest in helping Pine Ridge help themselves. For me this already is an ongoing cause I’ve pretty much resigned to be dedicated to until either things improve drastically or I die, whichever comes first.

With your help, they I’m confident they can and will get better. For more information on Raw Travel – Pine Ridge and to donate please go to www.crowdrise.com/rawtravel or for other ways you may choose to help then click the “How To Help” link at www.RawTravelPineRidge.com which will be updated as time goes on.

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Thank you for not standing by while good people needlessly suffer.

 

 

Giving Back: Adopt-A-Native-Elder

ADOPT-A-NATIVE-ELDER 

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While filming in Park City, Utah this summer I fortuitously came across a promotional flyer for a program called “Adopt A Native Elder” and was immediately intrigued. We made contact and interviewed founder, Linda Myer and her dedicated staff and volunteers at their warehouse in Salt Lake City where they were packing for an upcoming “Food Run”.  According to their website, the Adopt-A-Native-Elder Program exists to create a Bridge of Hope between Native Americans and other cultures.  They do this by providing food, medicine, clothing, fabric and yarns to help these Elders, some of whom are in their 80s and 90s or even older. 

As they have become elderly, it has become more difficult for them to support themselves on the Land in their traditional ways. After my interview with Linda and Roger, the organization’s Navajo interpreter and ambassador, I was so taken with the program that I pledged then and there to participate in an upcoming food run.

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Months later, I was finally able to fulfill my pledge by participating in the Many Farms Food Run in a remote area of the Navajo reservation in Arizona and it was as amazing as I expected.

I flew into Phoenix on some business the day before and then drove almost 5 hours to the meeting point in Chimle, Arizona. I arrived late at night at the lovely Best Western hotel in town and woke up early to meet up with the volunteers and to get briefed at breakfast.

Linda immediately spotted me and after our greeting graciously asked if I’d brought any long pants (I was wearing 3/4 length pants). Luckily I had. It turns out the Navajo are conservative and to show proper respect, the volunteers are asked to dress conservatively with the females wearing long skirts and men wearing long pants. No sleeveless t-shirts either. The main thing is to keep oneself covered.

Linda introduced me to the group of volunteers as I nervously apologized for my inappropriate dress (an unintentional but now long running theme throughout the show),  and everyone laughed. It was a jovial, giving and welcoming atmosphere with approximately 50 or so volunteers from all over the U.S. including Utah, California, Texas, Indiana and at least one other person from New York City.

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It was a somewhat older adult crowd with many retirees taking advantage to give back, but there were also younger folks and families with kids as well as solo travelers in attendance. The kids particularly impressed me with their selfless attitude and commitment. In my view, these kids are bound for a lifetime of giving, empathy and betterment. I spent a lot of time with them and found their maturity and character at such a young age simply inspiring.   

We left in convoy from the hotel and arrived at the gathering point on the reservation around mid morning before any elders would arrive, some making a several hour journey in from remote corners of the reservations and many arriving in walkers or wheelchairs, many of which had been donated. It was obvious that many rarely if ever are able to leave home but the ANE Foodruns are special occasion for these folks.

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Not only does the event allow them to stock up on food and other necessities to get them through the winter, they view these ANE occasions as social where they are able to fellowship and see old friends be they fellow tribes people or volunteers from ANE, many of whom have been coming for years and have developed long held bonds and relationships with the Natives.

Witnessing deep friendships that transcended generational, ethnic and cultural gaps was perhaps the most heartwarming part of the entire Food Run process

The elders were as sweet as could be and they and their caretakers (if they had them) of sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, etc., were grateful and appreciative. Many of the elders did not speak English but as always, smile and a warm handshake or hug bridged any language or cultural barrier. Some of the Natives also brought gifts for exchange (rugs, yarn, etc.) giving the event a festive rather than charitable feel. 

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The ANE foodruns have been going on for over 30 years and by now, it’s run like a well oiled machine. Every possible scenario was covered and it was obvious this organization is a “waste not, want not” kind of place. The support that ANE receives goes directly to the native elders with very little administrative overhead that you would find in a larger organization.

They know by now the things that the elders most need. Items that might seem humdrum to you and I such as work gloves, knit hats, hand lotion, instant coffee, peanut butter, yarn, etc. Every elder is taken care of and every effort was made to create an event that was more of a celebration of a culture among good friends rather than a charity give away.  There were skits, entertainment, games and giveaways along with a wonderful buffet style lunch that was a mixture of Native and non Native food. 

Indeed, it was hard for me to keep a dry eye during the parts of the day. The love and good will flowing from Native to Non Native and back was palpable. When the young Native children showed up for their toys, I thought I would lose it.  Simple pleasures from kids who don’t know a thing about a computer or video game but who were absolutely thrilled with a new plastic toy car or action figure that most kids in our country today would simply sneer at. 

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The Elders.. the kids.. the volunteers… the love… the warmth.. in the peaceful (if hot and dusty) setting of the Arizona desert, it was surreal as well as a mind and life altering.

I hope I’m able to actually “adopt” a native elder or return on a Food Run soon and while it remains to be seen, it’s a memory I’ll treasure and keep for life.

I encourage you to find out about the ANE and see if it’s for you and if you are so moved, participate on a Food Run or Adopt-A-Native-Elder yourself. Please visit their website HERE and look for their segment in 2016 on Raw Travel.

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Why Serbia Gets My Vote For Friendliest Place in Europe

I love Europe, both Western & Eastern. But let’s face it, compared to much of the world it’s not the friendliest continent. I mean there are pockets of Spain (in my limited Spain experience, pretty much the whole pocket outside of Catalan) that are very hospitable… and many other great destinations I’ve yet to hit such as Portugal, Italy, Greece, etc. so granted this judgement is a bit premature.

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And like all sweeping generalizations, it is inaccurate on it’s face because of the relative  nature of the question and the fact that the answer  very much depends on the individual experience.

But both of my experiences in Serbia were absolute treasures in my memory bank. I enjoyed Hungary, Romania, Czech Republic… Bulgaria is awesome, Poland was super and I made great lifelong friends in each of these places, but Serbia.. well Serbia is gritty and full of life and if you are a solo traveler, well, you are in for a treat.

My first time in Serbia I was that solo traveler and upon arrival by train from Budapest, a local but trustworthy looking and semi fluent English speaking gentleman grabbed my too large bag off the arrival platform, jumped on the bus with me and then took a good 1/2 hour of his time to assist me in finding the flat I had rented up a very steep hill.

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Of course, I tipped him but I really had the feeling he wasn’t in it for the money. I’ve been hustled all over the world so I know a thing or two about getting hustled and this man was simply super friendly and eager to help this rare American visitor any way he could.

On my last trip in the summer of 2014 with my film crew taping for Raw Travel, I had a rare few moments to myself and I decided to go out and jog the streets of Belgrade. I was lost, winded and had slowed my running to a leisurely stroll to just take the city and it’s people in.

I could viscerally see the struggle on the faces of the Serbian people I met along the way. The families in the parks with young toddlers…. the grandmas and grandpas…It was a surreal but uneventful moment that probably shouldn’t have but brought tears to my eyes nonetheless. I still remember that moment as if it were yesterday.

When the 3rd Balkan War was going on in the 1990s, I was the blissfully ignorant, largely unaware American caught up in my own world of establishing my career and other, largely selfish pursuits like making as much money as I thought I deserved. Oh the folly of youth.

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Visiting Serbia several years later made me more aware of the tragedy and long lasting repercussions of this and all tragic wars. Not just for Serbia but for all involved of course, all because a relatively few morally bankrupt, senseless, shameful “leaders” are out to save their sorry asses. What’s a few thousand crimes against humanity compared to that?

Serbia has yet to join the European Union and the economy leaves much to be desired. But its not the economy or even it’s history that defines a people or at least it shouldn’t be. When it comes to the friendliest spot in Europe, Serbia gets my vote. And I can’t wait to return.

Voluntourism Vs. Disaster Capitalism

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Coincidentally, the evening before the big earthquake in Nepal, I watched Vice On HBO’s report on the confounding money pit Haiti has become after their devastating 2010 earthquake (below is a debriefing by Vice Reporter, Vikram Gandhi).

Like many who’ve donated money to Haiti, the report was beyond frustrating to see. Unfortunately it is not surprising.

I kind of had the feeling that this would happen. The fact that private U.S. companies are benefiting with millions of donors’ and taxpayer dollars while providing nothing of substance to the Haitian people hammered home the surprisingly difficult task of giving, especially when large, self interested bureaucracies like the U.S. Government, United Nations and a struggling third world government like Haiti’s are involved.

When we’re on the road filming up against intense deadlines in a country we’re often not familiar, The Giveback  segment is often the most stressful of all segments we produce.

My biggest fear is giving media credibility and valuable exposure to an individual or organization that is  a sham, scam or simply dishonest. There are so many so called “not-for-profits” that are set up with the sole purpose of making money by securing funds with little or no resources actually going to those in need.

On more than one occasion we’ve walked away from a filming opportunity because something didn’t feel right. Unfortunately, this is a horrible gauge of whether to help or not, but with scant research available in many of these destinations, we do the best we can and rely on what we see when there on the ground. So far, I don’t think we’ve made any mistakes, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.

Project Pearls in Manila
Project Pearls in Manila

 

Large, well funded organizations with slick websites and marketing plans can give the impression of stability, security and goodness of mission. But as we’ve witnessed and the Vice reporter underscores, this can be misleading.

That is one of the reasons we encourage DIY (Do It Yourself) Voluntourism and working with smaller, lesser known organizations run by locals. When there is less money at stake, there seems to be less opportunity for graft, corruption and waste.

Further, I feel our exposure has a larger relative impact and viewers who decide to help may get a more visceral feeling working with smaller organizations.

Our “Give Back” segments are less about the particular organization we happen to be highlighting and more about shining a spotlight on Voluntourism as a travel option in general. Viewers are encouraged to do their own research and get out there and do what makes them feel good. Giving after all is ultimately a selfish enterprise. We largely do it because it makes us feel good, but what a great way to be selfish.

This is not to say that all larger organizations are bad or corrupt. Unicef, World Vision, the Red Cross and dozens more like them are doing good work. We need these guys and we need to support them.

DIY Voluntourism - Water Filters in Honduras
DIY Voluntourism – Water Filters in Honduras

But we also need to ask hard questions and expect the right answers. What is happening in Haiti is a travesty of human greed and reflect the worst angels of human nature. But I know among all that misery, all that waste and disgusting display of capitalism disguised as charity, that there are people doing the right things and working hard to make a difference. I know because I’ve seen them and witnessed the results of their efforts first hand.

They, thankfully, are large in number even though it’s often maybe not a sexy story for the likes of CNN and other corporate media concerns.

We’re planning a trip to Haiti for our upcoming Season 3. We had every intention of going in Season 1 but then the earthquake hit and we weren’t established enough to handle producing in a disaster zone. We still aren’t. But if we wait for Haiti to fully recover then I fear we’ll be waiting a long time. Plus one of the main reasons for going is they still need our help.

In the meantime, I hate to say it but I’ve been thinking twice about donating to  disaster relief in Nepal, a place I haven’t visited but have every intention of getting to eventually (not to climb Everest but to get to know the people and culture).

That’s the tragedy of these things. The disaster capitalists rip us off in Haiti and then we’re hesitant to give the next time the need arises there or somewhere else.

But in the end I can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. I do believe most short term disaster relief through most large and reputable organizations does get to the  intended targets and without that help, disaster would be multiplied many time over.

Nepal needs help so I’m going to do it. I’m including links below to Unicef and the Red Cross and World Vision. Three organizations I feel comfortable with. I’m sure there are many more.

A good tool to reference is Charity Navigator before you give to some of the more established and larger charitable organizations.

If you know of other, reputable, on the ground organizations in Haiti or Nepal, who could use Raw Travel’s brand of help, let us know. We’d like to check them out for ourselves and if we like what we see, maybe give them a little exposure.

Vice focus on the greed and corruption of the bad guys and I’m very thankful they are.

As for Raw Travel, we’ll continue to focus on the good.