A few years ago, a good friend of mine was volunteering for a charity in Thailand, who promised a trip to help build schools in regions affected by poverty. When he returned, he told me of his disappointment with the trip, that it felt more like a tourist venture for people to throw their holiday money at, get a few photos of them laying some bricks, and spend the rest of their time on vacation.
Moreover, he learned that the majority of the money he spent on the trip was used to cover the costs of flights, food, wages and accommodation, and very little actually went to those in need. What he experienced in Thailand changed his life. He met real people with real problems who needed real help. And suddenly the lifestyle he was used to in Australia and the United Kingdom seamed decadent to how his new friends lived. Never-the-less, they seamed happier than most of the people he knew back home.
So we put our heads together, I knew a little bit about how to form a not-for-profit community organisation, although no idea about how we could achieve official charity status. One thing was clear, we wanted to ensure that 100% of the money we donated went directly to those in need. Echo International Aid was born.
We just returned from a field trip to Thailand where we had an amazing adventure. I met the people we had been helping the past few years, stayed in places that are closed to tourists, launched an emergency appeal and saved the life of Baby Star, and crossed the border into secretive Burma where we saw first-hand the school library that was under construction from the fundraising efforts of a party we held in Melbourne earlier this year.
Watch the highlights here. I created this video using only my mobile phone whilst on the road, and edited it together using raw footage and a bunch of Snapchats… it really was like having my own TV production crew in my pocket – how awesome is digital?!
Please help this awesome work to continue and grow. You can become an ongoing supporter of Echo International Aid by signing up here and play a part in assisting some of the world’s poorest people. We recently also achieved official charity status which means donations are now tax deductible for those in Australia.