Often World Moms contributors are also global travelers, and we are excited that a new travel podcast called Dramatic Travels recently featured two of our contributors. Nicole Melancon had the honor of being the very first Dramatic Travels podcast interview to air, and more recently Elizabeth Atalay shared her travel stories in Episode 9.
Aaron Schlein launched the inspirational family travel podcast Dramatic Travels earlier this year as a resource for family travel, a way to ignite curiosity, and to open people’s minds to the power of travel. In each episode Aaron talks travel with passionate and experienced travelers who are sharing the world, and that love of adventure, with their kids.
Travel opens up a world of possibilities, education, and cross cultural appreciation in a unique and impactful way that no other type experience can. A large part of our mission at World Moms Network is to cultivate cross cultural understand to help build a better world for all of our children. To hear about Nicole and Elizabeth’s travel adventures and how they are sharing their love of travel with their families you can listen to their podcast interviews here:
Nicole Melancon is a freelance journalist, blogger, and social good advocate living in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her husband and two children. A world wanderer at heart, she has visited over 40 countries for both work and pleasure and is still wandering.
Nicole founded her blog, ThirdEyeMom, in 2010 after a life-changing trip to Nepal where she trekked the Annapurna circuit with her father. Landing in India, she received her “third eye” which symbolizes wisdom. It reinforced her strong belief that you must view the world with a third-eye and as openly as possible. On ThirdEyeMom Nicole writes about travel, culture and social good issues focusing on poverty, global health, education, human rights, women and girls’ empowerment, food security and the environment. She is a member of Impact Travel Alliance Media Network, an alliance of journalists, content creators and social media influencers around the world who are passionate about sustainable tourism, and she volunteers with Travel+SocialGood Blog Coordinator.
In May of 2013 Nicole traveled to India as a member of Mom Bloggers for Social Good to report on water, sanitation, newborn health, and education. In July 2014, she traveled to Ethiopia to report on newborn and maternal health as a fellow with the International Reporting Project, and was a Social Good Fellow for the UN Foundation Social Good Summit, and chosen to attend ONE Women and Girls first AYA Summit in Washington DC in 2015. In July 2015, Nicole climbed Mount Kilimanjaro with Solar Sister, a non-profit organization that brings solar electrify to Sub-Saharan Africa. She has been on two separate press trips to Haiti in 2015 and 2017, and reviewed an all-women’s learn to surf camp in Nicaragua in 2016. Most recently she travelled to Kenya to work on the 2018 Follow the Liters Campaign with LifeStraw where the mission was to deliver safe water to the one millionth child.
Elizabeth Atalay is a Digital Media Producer and Managing Editor at World Moms Network. In 2016 she traveled to Haiti to visit artisans in partnership with Heart of Haiti and the Artisans Business Network. She was a 2015 United Nations Foundation Social Good Fellow, and traveled to Ethiopia as an International Reporting Project New Media Fellow to report on newborn health in 2014. In 2013 Elizabeth traveled to Johannesburg, South Africa with Social Good Moms report on reproductive health and a women’s collective in Alexandra Township. At Documama.org she uses digital media as a new medium for her background as a documentarian. After having worked on Feature Films and Television series for FOX, NBC, MGM, Columbia Pictures, Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, and Castle Rock Pictures, she studied documentary filmmaking and anthropology earning a Masters degree in Media Studies from The New School in New York. Since becoming a Digital Media Producer she has worked on social media campaigns for non-profits such as Save The Children, WaterAid, ONE.org, UNICEF, United Nations Foundation, Edesia, World Pulse, and The Gates Foundation. Her writing has also been featured on ONE.org, Johnson & Johnson’s BabyCenter.com, EnoughProject.org, GaviAlliance.org, and Worldmomsblog.com. Elizabeth has traveled to 70 countries around the world but home is in New England with her husband and four children.
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This is an original post for World Moms Network.
One of the boys smiles for the camera.
Traveling the world, I am always touched by the children of every place I go. Joy, creativity, and the desire to be loved is universal, and transcends borders, cultures, languages, and even circumstances in life. Despite some of the utter hardships some children face – whether it be war, poverty, hunger or disease – I find that kids are still kids no matter what. They all love to play, to learn, to have attention and love, and of course to smile.
Visiting children at either a local school, community-lead program or orphanage has become something I try to do on every trip to the developing world. I have found that even a short time spent playing and interacting with children, even if we can’t speak the same language, does wonders for the soul. There are tons of places in need of volunteers and visitors however finding the right place to visit can be tricky. Thankfully the perfect place to visit was just a short walk away from the gates of the hotel in Moshi, Tanzania where I was staying on my latest adventure.
The Springlands Hotel is the base of Zara Tours, one of the leading trekking and safari outfitters in Moshi and is the company we employed for our climb to Mount Kilimanjaro. Run by Zainab Ansell, Zara Tours has been brining guests on amazing adventures for over two decades and has also given back to the community in which they serve through the Zara Tanzania Charity. Zara Charity works to develop and support vulnerable groups within their community such as porters, Maasai women, and local orphans improving the lives for many.
Tanzania had been ravaged by the HIV/AIDS epidemic that swept across the African continent killing an estimated 30 million people from AIDS-related causes since its beginning twenty years ago (UNAID 2010 report). In Tanzania alone, HIV/AIDS has devastated an entire generation leaving a nation of orphans. UNICEF estimates that there are over 3.1 million children in Tanzania living without parents of which an estimated 1.3 million are orphaned due to HIV/AIDS. For many of these children, an orphanage is the only place they have to find food, shelter, education and medical attention.
The Kilimanjaro Orphanage Center in Moshi, Tanzania
The city of Moshi was not spared in the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Right behind the Springlands Hotel lies the small community of Pasua, a dirt-lined street of homes and small businesses. In 2009, Edward “Teacher” Lazaro, a native Tanzanian, founded The Kilimanjaro Orphanage Centre in response to the dire need to provide care and shelter to an increasing population of orphaned children in the Kilimanjaro region. Lazaro collaborated with Zainab Ansell of Zara Charity to set up the orphanage and today the center cares for 60 resident orphans with the help of many dedicated local and international volunteers.
After a short five-minute walk, twisting and turning down the serpentine dirt streets of the village, I arrived at the gates of the Kilimanjaro Orphanage Centre. I could hear the laughter of the children from outside the gates. A large group of 20 volunteers were already inside playing frisbee with the children. This group would spend the next several days visiting the kids before doing a Kilimanjaro climb in honor of their charity.
This little boy was a tough customer to get to smile. I found out he is a neighbor’s child who enjoys coming to play with the kids at the centre.
To learn more about the Kilimanjaro Orphanage Center and how you can help, click here.
This post was written by Nicole Melancon of ThirdEyeMom and edited for publication on World Moms Blog.
When you travel is there one particular thing that draws you in each place you go?
All photos by Nicole Melancon.
Have you ever had a dream for so long that it never stopped bugging you until you decided to just do it? For me, it has always been Kilimanjaro. I have wanted to climb this epic mountain for over 15 years since my father did it in October 1999 before my wedding. There really has not been any other dream or travel goal that I have had for that long.
Like most dreams, there have been many obstacles and road blocks along the way. The first big one was timing. There was no way I could go climb Kilimanjaro when I was in the midst of wedding planning, and honestly at that time I had never ever even considered climbing a mountain before. I had hiked all my life but had never climbed a mountain. My dad was always the mountain climber in the family, the one who took these amazing trips and challenged himself to new heights. Not me. Yet still his 1999 trip started a fire inside my wanderlust soul.
It wasn’t until 2001 a few months after September 11 that I did my first real, big, out-of-country hike. My dad and I hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru. I had never been on a multi-day hike before nor had I been above 12,000 feet. But this magical trip would be a turning point in my life. It would be the first of many hiking trips with my dad to off-the-beaten path places. It would open my eyes to the world outside of Europe, which had always been my safety net in traveling. It would instill a passion and desire to explore. A wanderlust that would never cease, not after getting married, having children, becoming a stay-at-home mom and turning 40.
Instead of satiating, my travel bug grew and grew, and grew. Fortunately, instead of having all my travel end once I had children it actually blossomed. My dad and I continued to take yearly trips to Argentina, Iceland, France, China, India, Nepal and most recently Bolivia. My husband pushed me to follow my dreams and supported my decisions to volunteer abroad in Morocco, Guatemala, Honduras and Costa Rica. I began my blog and the travel door continued to open as I visited India, Ethiopia and Haiti.
I often get those questions or remarks such as “How do you do it?” or “You are so lucky, my husband would never let me go“. That feeling of guilt about why should I be able to do this when others can’t even feed their family. Yet I have pushed it aside and realized that I have an incredible opportunity to use the good fortune of traveling to give back. To make a difference. To dedicate my life to helping people who don’t have these luxuries. So that is why I do what I do and am who I am.
As with my dream of climbing Kilimanjaro, I could easily have just signed up to climb it and gone by myself. I had thought about doing it many times. I even was going to do it with my husband years ago but we decided on Chile instead. Then came the kids and we never wanted to leave them without at least one parent home (hence why my husband does not travel with me).
I wanted this climb to be special. I wanted it to mean something similar to my life-changing trip to Nepal.
Like an act of fate, I got the call a few months ago from my dear friend, and fellow World Moms Blog Editor Elizabeth Atalay of Documama. Elizabeth and I met at a blogging conference a few years ago and since then we have worked together as writers at World Moms Blog, ONE.org, and Mom Bloggers for Social Good. One of our projects with Mom Bloggers for Social Good was to review an advanced copy of Betsy Teutsch’s new book called “100 Under $100: One Hundred Tools for Empowering Global Women”. One of the non-profits inside of that book was Solar Sister. Solar Sister is based in Rhode Island where my friend Elizabeth lives, and Rhode Island is a small state.
Elizabeth was familiar with Solar Sister and over a lunch with a friend of hers who works there, she learned about their #SolarSisterSummit climb this July. Knowing this was a dream of mine, she phoned me right away to tell me about it. It was fate. I did a Skype call with the team a few days later and signed up instantly and haven’t looked back. Climbing Kilimanjaro while knowing I am doing it not only for myself, but to help others is amazing.
Over the next month and a half I will be actively fundraising with a goal of reaching $4,000 that will cover the training for 8 new Solar Sister Entrepreneurs in Sub-Saharan Africa. To date, I have almost raised $2,000! These women will have a new opportunity. It is a thrilling feeling knowing what an impact I will make.
The road ahead will be exhilarating. I have a lot of training to do, and more fundraising. But I know I can do it. My mom and dad always taught me to chase my dreams and never give up. I don’t think there is any better lesson I could have ever learned from them that is more valuable except of course to love, to be compassionate, and to be grateful.
Have you ever had a long-term dream or goal that you finally were able to fulfill?
This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Nicole Melancon of Third Eye Mom.
Kilimanjaro Photo credit Wikimedia
As a global advocate and traveler, I have always wanted to visit Haiti and little did I know I would soon find myself there as part of the Macy’s Heart of Haiti program (#Bloggers4Haiti), an initiative to bring the artisan’s work to market in the US, and offer a sustainable income for the survivors of Haiti’s catastrophic earthquake five years ago. A small group of us landed in Port au Prince the Thursday before Valentine’s Day and the start of Haiti’s Carnival. I honestly had mixed emotions about what to expect.
The weeks before my departure the news from Haiti was more or less the same. Protesting, political instability, and the usual ongoing extreme poverty that gives Haiti a bad name. Being the poorest nation in the western hemisphere is not a status any country desires. Decades of political fighting, instability, foreign meddling, natural disasters, and poverty has left the country in shambles after the devastating earthquake a little over five years ago.
Reading all the terrible news that never seemed to shred a ray of light on Haiti obviously worried me. I honestly had no idea what to expect when I signed on for my trip with Macy’s Heart of Haiti program where I would spend five days in Port-au-Prince and Jacmel learning about the amazing partnership between America’s largest department store chain and Haitian artists. Would it be safe? was always my number one question as I finished reading the pages of Paul Farmer’s harrowing true story of the aftermath of the earthquake. Would I feel threatened? was another alarming fear I had in the back of my mind when I heard about the recent rioting and protests over the government and fuel prices. Lastly, Would it be depressing? I wondered as I pictured enormous squalid tent communities, slums and rubble.
How would Haiti truly be?
For me, that is the answer I wanted to find out. Whether “Hay-iti” or “the mountains place” as it was named after the long gone Taino people, was the frightening, poverty-stricken desperate place I’d read about over and over again in the media or was it a place of beauty, resilience and strength.
Our group meeting with the amazing women of OFEDA, all earthquake survivors.
As we landed in Haiti’s rebuilt airport in Port-au-Prince, I had just turned the last page of the powerful book “The Big Truck that Went By” by Jonathan Katz. Katz is a journalist who was based in Haiti during the earthquake and stayed on afterwards to document the enormous missed opportunity of governments and aid groups to help truly rebuild Haiti.
Despite the billions of dollars sent in aid money, Katz pointedly argues that Haiti is no better off than it was before the quake that killed over an estimated 220,000 people. Much of the promised aid money was never delivered, while Haitians scramble to rebuild, create jobs, and repair the horrendous lack of infrastructure that lead to such devastation in the first place. Five year later, running water and electricity remain a luxury to the lucky few. Haitians continue to leave the countryside and come to overcrowded Port-au-Prince to live in one of the many growing slums. Tent communities, although reduced in numbers, still exist. Medical care and treatment remain overwhelmed. And deforestation that makes the rains sweep away cities during the rainy season, destroying thousands of homes and killing people in its path, continues.
But “Dèyè mòn gen mòn”…a famous Haitian proverb that means “beyond the mountains, there are mountains”.
The “gingerbread” homes that rise up in the slums above Port au Prince, Haiti.
Haiti has a long way to go in rebuilding and ensuring that another devastation won’t destroy the progress that has been made. Haiti needs a stronger economy providing sustainable jobs.
Haiti needs better infrastructure on every level. Haiti needs investment in education, health care, water and sanitation, electricity, and transportation. Haiti needs political stability and a government that works for its people. And Haiti needs us to not forget her.
The mountains remaining are enormous and often seem almost impossible to pass. Yet the one thing that I learned after five days in Haiti is that the people are some of the strongest people on earth. They have witnessed so much hardship for centuries yet they persevere. Their strength and resilience is astonishing.
This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Nicole Melancon of Third Eye Mom.
It must have been a sign of fate that I happened to be paging through the resort brochure the last night of my stay at the lovely Barefoot Cay and saw the two-page spread on Clinica Esperanza. Instantly, I was taken by the story and by a stroke of luck the next morning, thirty minutes before my departure to the United States I found myself interviewing the very doctor who has dedicated the last several years of his life to helping build the clinic.
Photo of the clinic. Photo credit: Doctor Patrick Connell.
The clinic itself started in a rather unexpected way. Peggy Stranges, an American nurse had come to the gorgeous, tropical island of Roatan off the shores of Honduras to retire. However, once word caught on among the local community that a nurse was living right down the street, more and more people came to Nurse Peggy looking for help. In a place lacking modern health care, Peggy began to see a need for providing low-cost or no-cost health care services to the people of Roatan.
Clinica Esperanza started at Nurse Peggy’s kitchen table and over the years expanded from her home to an apartment beneath her house, then occupied four rooms at a nearby church, and finally ended up in its home today as a first-class freestanding hospital in the Sandy Bay area of Roatan. (more…)