As a company, we don’t believe that behaving like rock stars trashing a hotel room is the most enlightened way to see the world. The planet is a fragile place, and travelers (and travel companies) who treat foreign destinations and communities like they’re there to be used and abused leave a lot to be desired.
So, one of our brand tenets is to leave the countries we visit just a little bit better than we found them.
Sometimes, it’s as simple as showing the world a positive image of the LGBT community; and helping them to understand our fabulous culture as we strive to understand theirs.
And sometimes, we give in more tangible ways. These have included helping to fund a new roof on a school, purchasing school supplies and clothing for students in need, and helping fund a clean water initiative. These projects have provided our guests with some of the most memorable moments of their travel lives. Nothing compares with the smile of a child who has just been given his or her first brand-new pair of shoes, or a group of villagers who no longer have to walk miles a day just to access clean water. We get to feel like Oprah, without having to dress up for red carpets.
At Brand g, we feel incredibly lucky to have so many curious, open-minded and philanthropic guests who believe in giving back, and who have enthusiastically gotten behind our pet projects.
Our mission began with the first Brand g trip in 2011/12, when we decided to become founding members of Prague Pride. Since Prague is a city we visit every year, it was important for us to stand behind the gay community and to be a part of their growing movement. It is with a profound sense of pride that we have watched this event grow exponentially over the past seven years.
Then, as we began to develop new itineraries all across the world, our mission expanded. During our first visit to Myanmar, we visited a small primary school in a tiny village along the Irrawaddy River. The school was badly in need of the most basic elements. Our guests were so moved by the children and their eagerness to learn that they took it upon themselves to raise the funds to replace the badly leaking roof with a new one, with money left over to buy more chairs for the students and a whiteboard for the teacher.
On two separate visits to a small village along the Mekong River in Cambodia, our guests were so moved by the efforts of the teacher in an English language school and the progress he had made with his young students, that they decided to help us buy computers, a modem and a smart TV for the classroom. There was enough money left over for an addition to the school, housing a library of books purchased with donated funds from our Brand g guests. In these proud but struggling countries, a little goes a long way.
(Angkor Ban School)
When we last visited India, we were fortunate to have a talented filmmaker join us on our cruise along the Ganges River. This artist has a great gift for making films that tell the stories of LGBT Indians in such a way that it touches the straight community of India and helps spur progress for our gay brothers and sisters living there. Again, our guests, moved by his films and body of work, gave generously to help fund his next project, which we hope to preview on our next visit.
There is a project in Tanzania that has only begun to take root that we are very proud of. Many Maasai tribal villages suffer from a lack of clean drinking water. This results in the women of the community walking several miles each day to collect essential water for their families. (And these are not exactly paved walking paths.) Since they cannot take their youngest children with them, adolescent girls are taken out of school to look after their younger siblings. As a result, girls suffer from a lack of education, which as you can imagine has far reaching implications.
Brand g is proud to partner with a wonderful organization called H20 for Life, to fund a clean water project in a Maasai village we’ll visit in 2019 as part of our Tanzanian safari trip. We have already received generous donations and as mentioned, the project is barely off the ground. You can read more about this project here, and if you are so inclined, help out by making a donation. The overall cost of the project is $11,000 and we have set an initial goal of $2,000, but we hope to far surpass this.
(Members of the Masaii Tribe)
Sometimes we as principals and members of the Brand g team get much more intimately involved in the causes we believe in. One such example is our participation in a two-day bike ride, raising funds for those living with HIV/AIDS in our home state of Minnesota. Throughout our years of participation in this event, we have been so incredibly moved by the generosity of our wonderful Brand g guests from around the world who have graciously donated towards this “local” event, simply because we believe in it.
(Red Ribbon Ride)
This is just a small sample of the legacy our engaged guests are leaving, and we are so proud to witness the changes they are making throughout the world. At Brand g, we firmly believe in the power of travel to transform the world and make it a better place.
And we thank you, our wonderful, open-minded and generous travelers for your amazing support!