Pack for a Purpose: Small Space + Little Effort = Big Impact

Sep 10, 2012 Community and Culture
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One of the aspects of our community engagement that we are very passionate about is a project called Pack for a Purpose (PfaP).  This amazing project was set up by one of our guests, Rebecca Rothney.  Rebecca writes the following to explain the start of PfaP:

“During our first trip to Africa, my husband Scott and I learned that while we were limited to 40 pounds (18.14 kgs) of luggage on safari, the airline had an allowance of 100 pounds (45 kgs) of checked luggage plus a 40 pound (18.14 kg) carry-on. In making plans for a second trip, we looked into visiting a school near the lodge we would visit in Botswana. We contacted our safari company, Wilderness Safaris, to see if we could determine any specific needs of that school. Armed with that information, we were able to deliver 140 pounds (64 kgs) of school supplies, including soccer balls, to the school. It was enormously rewarding to be able to help the people in the community that had given us such a life-changing experience. Since then, we and a few of our fellow-travellers have made several trips to other countries in Africa and have been able to deliver an estimated 1,000 pounds (453 kgs) in donations of clothing, school and medical supplies. I asked a travel agent why other travellers did not use their luggage allowances this way. ”Because nobody thinks about it,” he said. That was our ”aha” moment.  By asking travellers to pack 5 lbs (2.27 kgs) of supplies, we felt we would be able to involve everyone who wanted to add value to his or her trip by participating. By delivering the supplies directly to the traveller’s accommodation, it would be possible for every traveller to contribute and require no logistical support. That amount would take only a small space, require little effort and still make a big impact.”

So, the idea behind the concept is that if you are travelling (anywhere in the world, not just Africa) you can look on the website for the camp where you are staying or otherwise any projects in the country that you are visiting and see what supplies you can bring to make a big difference in someone’s life.  The website explains how to pack the supplies and gives wonderful ideas of items that are easy and light to pack and often difficult to find in the remote, rural areas of Africa.  The supplies can either be left at the main centre in the country when you arrive otherwise, in some cases, you can deliver the goods to the community project itself.

Wilderness has a number of different community projects in Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe on the PfaP website (  We have recently added the Iliso Care Society in Khayelitsha in the Western Cape of South Africa – click here for more details on this project.

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By Sue Snyman

Sue Snyman, PhD, is the Wilderness community and culture Guru, having recently completed research on the impact of concessions on the surrounding communities in southern Africa.

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