Love in Action: Global Voluntourism
For some people, traveling is not only an opportunity to explore other geographies and cultures, but it is also an opportunity to make a positive impact.
Students who are interested in both traveling and helping others can join Love in Action Travel, LLC, a social business that offers agritourism, voluntourism and cultural and faith-based trips, along with Fathom Travel cruises.
Tammie Ferguson founded Love in Action Travel in 2015, and she strives to educate the Lawton-Fort Sill community about the mission of Love in Action Travel, as well as the upcoming trips.
“I know there are people out there like me who enjoy travel,” she said. “They like visiting different communities and different countries, but they also want to make a positive difference.”
Ferguson, a certified travel industry specialist, organizes the trips and accompanies the group.
“They have the confident ease of knowing that they have someone with them who’s done it before, who’s knowledgeable and who’s coordinated,” she said.
Ferguson said Love in Action Travel combines the luxuries of vacationing with the service of helping others.
“[It is for] people who are concerned about our environment,” she said, “and people who are concerned about those who are disenfranchised and living in poverty.”
Each trip has a specific function, she said, whether it be agritourism, cultural, faith-based or voluntourism.
“It’s a great opportunity to meet new people, travel to a different place and support small businesses,” she said. “We try to patronize family-owned, local restaurants and shops.”
According to Ferguson, on agritourism trips, the Love in Action Travel group visits farms, ranches, wineries or vineyards.
“We give our participants fresh, hands-on experiences,” she said. “For example, when we do a winery tour, we’ll tour the vineyard. Sometimes, we’ll even get to help harvest the grapes. Sometimes, we’ll get to help stomp the grapes.”
For faith-based tours, Ferguson said, the group may go to Branson’s Sight & Sound Theatres to watch “Moses” or “Judah,” and for cultural trips, they may walk through Black Wall Street in Tulsa or ride to Tahlequah to learn about the Native Americans.
The Love in Action Travel tours also go beyond the boundaries of the United States.
With the company Fathom Travel, Ferguson said, the group members of Love in Action Travel enjoy the splendor of a cruise, while undergoing orientation for the upcoming service project at their destination, whether it be Cuba or the Dominican Republic.
“The port in the Dominican Republic is called Amber Cove,” she said. “While you’re there, you have the beach, […] but then during the week, we go into the community.”
The group, Ferguson said, plants trees and seeds to aid reforestation, helps the businesses owners of small cow farms, teaches English classes and builds water filters.
An additional mission overseas, Ferguson said, is Habitat for Humanity’s Global Village trip.
“We’ll go and build a house,” she said. “In June, we’re going to go back to Guatemala, and we’re going to build another house. We’re also going to build what we call a ‘healthy home kit,’ which includes smokeless stoves and water filters and sometimes concrete flooring.”
Ferguson has built houses and conducted service projects in different places across the world, and she said there are still many places she has yet to go.
“I’ve built habitat houses in nine states,” she said. “I’ve built two houses in the Dominican Republic, three in Guatemala and one in Bolivia.
“When I go to Haiti, we’ll serve in an orphanage. In Puerto Rico, we’ll do minor repairs on some homes and on a vulnerable women’s maternity ward.”
According to Ferguson, traveling is important because individuals who expose themselves to other cultures adopt different perspectives and learn more about themselves.
“I’m so blessed,” she said. “We take a lot of things for granted here in America, like being able to turn on the water faucet instead of walking four miles to get dirty water that’s probably going to make you sick.”
Having observed the lifestyles of other cultures, Ferguson has also taken on a global perspective.
“We forget that the United States population is only five percent of the world,” she said, “Ninety-five percent of humanity is in other countries, so we’re just a drop in the bucket. … There’s so much more to see and do.”
Ferguson hopes her children learn from her example and develop their own passion for travel.
“My husband and I have three boys. They’re 13 [years], 10 [years] and 10 months,” she said. “I hope that they will carry the torch when they become of age, and they can start traveling with purpose.”
For more information about the organization, visit the Love in Action Travel, LLC, Facebook page.
To join the organization, students can call Ferguson at 678-653-2170, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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