‘Two of the greatest gifts we can give our children are roots and wings’.
– Hodding Carter
It was almost two hundred years ago that Mark Twain declared ‘travel fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness’ – an assertion that we at ROAR AFRICA know to be true and one that makes the concept of exploratory travel such a critically important experience for all, particularly children. So when it comes to tailoring trips for those clients who wish to impart their love of travel to their children whilst embracing the educational qualities manifested within, it’s as close to itinerary nirvana as is possible for the ROAR AFRICA team. ‘The privilege of crafting a journey for young minds imbued with curiosity, spontaneity, adventure, and philanthropy is not lost on us,’ says ROAR AFRICA’s CEO Deborah Calmeyer. ‘For they are the future custodians of Africa’s last wild places.
It was an article in Departures Magazine outlining what ROAR AFRICA does as a company that led Washington-based Amanda Marshall to Deborah. ‘Most people laughed when I told them what I wanted to accomplish in two weeks,’ recalls Amanda. ‘Deborah was different, she listened, then cautioned that it may be difficult to tick off everything on my list before committing to giving it a try. In just a couple of days, she came back with an incredible itinerary that encapsulated everything! And this was in October, just three months prior to departure.’
As the founder of Fair Chance (www.fairchancedc.org), a non-profit organisation that has improved the lives of more than 80,000 at-risk youth in Washington – Amanda wanted an itinerary for herself, her husband Alex and their four sons James (12), Mac (10), John (9), and Brooks (7), that included service work and cultural integration. Her wish list centered around a desire for her four boys to spend time in communities in Kenya and South Africa where they could meet the locals and really understand their culture. For both Amanda and Alex, travel is vital to their boy’s all-round education: ‘Exposing them to different cultures, languages, foods, and experiences outside of their comfort zone has made them incredibly adaptable boys, who are open to trying new things,’ says Amanda.
Amanda cites Campi Ya Kanzi in Kenya, located on local Masaai owned land and leased by current management in a true community partnership, as a highlight of the trip. ‘Campi really made an impression upon us for our guides felt like family and our boys were able to observe the Maasai culture first hand.’ The Marshalls identified water transport as an area where they could help the Maasai and after returning home, they decided to purchase 10 hippo rollers (hipporoller.org) as a pilot project to help the women in the village. ‘These rollers will help the women carry 5 times as much water by simply rolling it along the ground rather than carrying a bucket on their back or head,’ explains Amanda. The Marshall’s rollers are currently en route to the village and, if the pilot is successful, the boys will begin to fundraise in order to purchase additional rollers for the village. How inspiring is that?
Another game changer for Amanda was when Deborah and her team managed to redirect their flights so that the family could visit an orphanage in Nairobi to which they have made many a donation over the years. ‘When I realized we were going to be flying in and out of Nairobi, I couldn’t help but ask if they could try to accommodate a quick stop to visit New Life Orphanage. Sure enough, they did and it was magical to be able to change our incoming flight to Nairobi so that we could meet the incredible team that runs it,’ says Amanda. Once again, the Marshalls left committed to doing more and have since sponsored three boys that they are getting to know better through email and letters.
‘Considering this was our first trip to Africa as a family, ROAR AFRICA more than met our expectations,’ says Amanda. ‘As a highly energetic family, Deb ensured that we had something active planned for every day from hiking and biking to surfing and climbing. The bush part of the trip was just as varied with a variety of safari experiences from walking and on-foot tracking to game-vehicle viewing at night.’ And when the family traveled to Cape Town, they were able to fit in visits to Chapmans Peak, Seal Island, the Winelands and Table Mountain.
‘Deborah and her team put together a once-in-a-lifetime experience that afforded our boys not only an amazing collection of experiences but also the opportunity to learn in an organic and meaningful way. But perhaps, most importantly, we returned home with the knowledge that we can continue to make an impact from afar. I truly believe that ROAR AFRICA’s commitment to this kind of experiential travel is what makes it stand out from the rest in the travel sector.’
If you would like us to create an itinerary custom-designed to suit your families interests and holiday needs, email firstname.lastname@example.org