Passports with Purpose

A few weeks ago I attended TEDx Milton and one of the speakers struck a chord with me. John Saunders is a paramedic and expert in Emergency Management who has been on site at many of the most horrific disasters in recent memory, including 9/11 and the catastrophic 2010 earthquake in Haiti. His overarching message was that although the world can be brutal, incomprehensible, and inhumane, that all of us must live with purpose and passion, persevere, and remember to be human.

One comment John made stayed with me long after the lecture, and that is his feeling of astonishment and glee whenever he returns home to Canada and can just walk up to a faucet, turn it on, and out flows clean, fresh, drinking water. “When I got home from Haiti, I giggled the first time I turned on the tap and knew I could drink that water.” Though my travels are tame by comparison, I have been in situations where water was scarce, and I hope I never lose that perspective and sense of gratitude.


Passports with Purpose

Back in June I was introduced to Passports with Purpose at the TBEX travel writers’ conference. Travel writing may not be as glamourous and carefree a vocation as the average person imagines it to be, but it is an enormous privilege to do this for a living. Passports with Purpose aims to channel some of the perks that we receive and use them to make a difference in the world.

Each year they organize a sweepstakes to benefit a charity. Individual bloggers arrange for a sponsor to donate a prize and they promote it on their blog. People then donate to Passports with Purpose and are entered into a draw to win one of the amazing prizes (I’m not exaggerating here. All the prizes are worth at least $100) with all of the proceeds going to the chosen cause.

This year Passports with Purpose is supporting, an organization that builds wells and creates infrastructure for delivering clean water and sanitation to areas that lack it. The funds raised through this campaign will be earmarked for Haiti.

My Prize

Ahem, my tendency toward procrastination being what it is, combined with the fact that my blog has only existed in earnest for a few weeks and therefore doesn’t have much sway yet, and my life being perpetually tumultuous, have led me to act as my own sponsor this year. I could have backed out and vowed to do better next year, but I chose to forge ahead and see what happens.

The prize I have chosen to contribute is a $100 Kiva Card!

The lucky winner who gets this prize will receive $100 in credit on the microfinance site which they can lend out to entrepreneurs in the developing world. Once the funds are repaid, they can be loaned out again and again.

water tapI had heard about Kiva here and there, but I finally made my first loan a couple of years ago thanks to the encouragement of people in my book club (shout out to my homies on Team BookCrossing!) I have enjoyed lending and re-lending the same $25 over that time. First it was to a bookseller in Central America, then to a wedding singer in Tajikistan to finance a new synthesizer, and now it is being used by a woman in Guatemala who runs a newsstand.

Some niggly details: The lucky winner will be required to have an account on — either an existing account or to register for one. Per Kiva policy, Kiva credit that has not been activated within 365 days will be considered a donation to Kiva. Although borrowers and funding partners are vetted by Kiva and few of them default on their loans, there is no guarantee that the funds you lend will be repaid.

I am stoked about this prize because it is a gift that gives twice or more. Your original contribution benefits and the people of Haiti, but the prize itself also benefits all of the individuals who are loaned the money in the future, and the communities that they live in (just imagine how much better wedding receptions are in Tajikistan now!) And the lucky winner gets the reward of picking the individuals and projects to whom the funds will be loaned!

What You Can Do

Make a donation to Passports with Purpose
-Share this post via social media, email, semaphore (kidding!) or whatever your preferred medium may be
-Promote Passports with Purpose to anyone you know who likes to win free travel and other goodies

Thanks for listening! We will return to our regularly scheduled geekalicious travel tales shortly. Remember to be human.

P.S. If your business is interested in partnering with A Nerd At Large for next year’s Passports with Purpose campaign, please get in touch.


  1. I love this prize idea! Kiva is such a great organization to support. I get really excited every time I get the email saying I have at least $25 to re-loan. I’m still working off of the same $75 I put in 3 years ago, and I’ve made countless loans!

    1. Thanks Cassie! I wasn’t sure how it would go over, but so far people seem to like the idea of the prize.

      I love getting those emails too. I would be stoked to have a $100 Kiva credit to work with because you would constantly have repayments trickling in, which would add up to $25 a lot sooner, so you could make a lot more loans because the money can be re-loaned again more frequently.

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