A lot of people ask us questions about the foundation. We've tried to compile some of the most common ones here. If you still have questions, please don't hesitate to contact us.
- Are you a 501(c)3?
- Are you affiliated with any government or religious organizations or missions?
- Where are you “based”?
- What are your main goals and approach?
- If you are focused on “development,” shouldn’t your true ambition be to make yourself obsolete?
- Your current and intended size will not impact millions of people, you do not intend to scale, so how can you make a real diff
- How are you funded?
- Why didn’t you just use your money by donating it to another NGO or foundation?
- How are you going to sustain your organization if you don’t take any $ for marketing, staff and salaries and pass through all
- Who built your website?
- What does Muskoka mean and what is that stone statue?
- What should a traveler expect during their experience?
- Can you help me with travel plans, visas and sight-seeing activities?
- If I don’t see a country or location as part of your network and I’m going there or planning on going there someday, how can I
- I have very little time (<1-2 days / location) and your programs all seem to ask for 5+ days, what is the best program for me?
- Don’t your programs just build dependence by the communities on your organization and travelers?
- I am travelling but don’t have my own accommodations?
- I don’t speak the local language, how can I share my skills?
- I don’t see any program that matches my skill set, what should I do?
- Do I have to pay to participate?
- Do you pay me to participate?
- Please send in more of your questions, we would really appreciate an opportunity to answer them!!
We are an official 501(c)3 organization, our EIN # is 30-6222027, effective as of Sept 15, 2009.
We are not associated with any government or political party.
While we do have a great respect for many religious organizations doing wonderful work around the world, we are not associated with any religious organizations nor do we have any religious mission. We ask our travelers and volunteers to not push any religious agendas on the communities which whom we come in contact.
Our USA and registered legal address is:
299 Pavonia Ave Apt 3-1
Jersey City, NJ 07302
The founders are perpetually on the road in their EcoRoamer (www.ecoroamer.com) but are always available online (skype:EcoRoamer) and by phone to assist in the foundation's day-to-day activities, to the best of their abilities
Our main goal is not to make ourselves obsolete as is the case for organizations that want to end poverty (once poverty is eradicated, they should cease to need to exist). We want to continue building and supporting a global network of relationships across different cultures and continue programs in skill transfer and access to markets. These types of activities should continue no matter what the stage of “development” is in different communities. The ultimate goal is to bring the world closer together through deep and meaningful cross-cultural experiences.
We worked hard for many years, saved a little money and Jay managed to sell his business in Singapore. We then decided to not buy a large house, or have too many toys for the kids, but instead, to live more frugally and do something more meaningful with the funds that we do have. (Although somehow, we still seem to have too many toys even though we live in a "small" truck).
1) We do make donations to organizations that we are passionate about such as The Reciprocity Foundation (www.reciprocityfoundation.org) and several others.
2) In terms of where we wanted to spend most of our money and time, this was a more difficult decision to make. To be clear, we do not have a significant source of funds and therefore will ultimately rely on sponsorships and grants to expand beyond a few communities. We are using our funds to get the programs up and going, donate some equipment for the first few communities and test the concept.
3) In terms of where we are spending our time: this is the real question. Our thought process was the following:
- We choose to work on activities that make a real positive difference in the world.
- After reviewing the work of many other organizations that we respect (and getting job offers from some of them), we found that none fit our time, lifestyle, interests and abilities as well as we would like.
- We found a “gap” and “need” exists with travelers (including ourselves) wanting to contribute to the communities that they befriend and their ability to do so.
- We started our own organization and developed a set of programs that match travelers’ professional abilities to the needs to communities.
We have seen too many organizations where a huge % of the funds raised and income generated goes to salaries, marketing and of course more fund-raising. We are trying to hold out as long as possible on our time, the time of our volunteers and sponsors. If we do end up growing larger and need some dedicated staff, we will not take this out of any programs but ring-fence this as best we can from our own funds or staff specific grants.
Muskoka is an area in northern Ontario, Canada, that we really love. It is also the area for our programs with the First Nations' Wahta and Moose Dear reservations.
Muskoka is also famous for its stone Inukshuk sculptures dotting the landscape. For background on the inukshuk and why we chose it for our logo, see: About Us - Our Logo.
- Make a real impact on a community
- Have a very intense experience by meeting and interacting with a community
- Learn a great deal about a new culture, beyond their arts/clothes/houses and more about who they are as people, families and individuals
- Learn about people’s dreams, ideas and help achieve some of them
- Get inspired about what you can do and inspire other travelers coming through!
- Make new friends and connect them to others around the world
- Improve the programs for the next travelers
- Get frustrated that you can’t do more to help the community
- Become exhausted after 1 week of intense training and interactions
- Become frustrated that you can’t reach all the participants/youth in your training workshop
- Become angry with the forces/people that are blocking progress in the community; feel helpless about changing major problems
We can share ideas of what other travelers have found in terms of border crossings, camping sites, good restaurants and interesting places to go. However, we will not arrange any of these activities for you, that is your responsibility. Our model is based on travelers going to these countries already as part of their planned itineraries.
Please send in more of your questions, we would really appreciate an opportunity to answer them!!
There are a couple of things that you can do: Firstly, let us know where you’re going and we might actually have a program in process there. Or, if we don’t have a program there, we can be easily persuaded to set one up! Finally, you can also be involved remotely by helping make contact with other travelers, develop programs and let other travelers know about us.
Many of our programs require 2-3 hours per day over the course of 5 days. However, there are many things that a traveler can do if they have only 1-2 days, for example:
1. Explore places and make recommendations on where a good site might be for the next Muskoka partner community;
2. Make contact with a community, let them know about our foundation and programs and ask about their needs;
3. Check-in with a community that we already have programs with and see how things are progressing;
4. Run a short refresher or advanced program in photography, entrepreneurship, IT, etc. with the children or the local teacher
We have seen many programs that end up creating dependencies in the communities that they hope to assist in some way. No organization can guarantee that the impact they have will always be positive (see www.beyondgoodintentions.com for many sad examples of this), however, after many years of experience, conversation and asking questions, we believe that the best way that we can work with communities is to ask what they need, understand our own limitations and try to deliver on our promises. The approach that we have designed, to really focus on skill transfer and market access focuses on building independence, strength and growth for communities as well as trying to preserve their own cultures. Our initial ideas of “bringing stuff” were quickly discarded primarily because of this concern.
Another point on dependencies – we prefer not to think of our partnerships as “helping” but instead as building relationships, as both the traveler and the communities learn and get much out of the interaction. One of our favorite quotes is: “if you have come here to help, you are wasting your time, but if you come as a partner, please come.”
We’re sure that we will have many challenges and failures ahead, everyone does, but we hope to continue learning and understanding how to make the amazing planet we live on a more fair, supportive, compassionate and peaceful place.
Our foundation does not provide accommodations and depends on independent and resourceful travelers that typically have their own trucks/tents to sleep in. However, many of our partner communities have offered a guest room or at least a hot shower and laundry to the travelers, so let us know if that would be welcome and we’ll set you up!
It certainly is always helpful to speak even a little of the local language. Try to learn a few words at the very least if you can.
Whether you need to know the language with some degree of fluency depends on the country and program. For much of central and south America it helps to know some Spanish but in other countries in Africa, many of the local communities can provide an interpreter, or do not expect you to know the language.
Also, some programs are easier to conduct without knowing the language or the people involved might know English. In short, check with us and we’ll let you know!
We’re always catering to the needs of our partner communities and matching them with the skills of our travelers. If you don’t see a program that fits your skills, suggest a new program or let us know what your skills are and we’ll think of a way that you can be involved. Often, we have not listed a program that a community needs but just haven’t developed yet or a traveler has not yet volunteered that possesses that skill. We’d love to get your help to build a program with your skill in mind.
No, we want to encourage as many travelers to participate as possible and we don’t conduct any travel related and/or orientation activities, so there is no payment expected.
If you would like to raise some funds for the organization that you are going to visit, that would be likely to be helpful to the organization, but is outside of our scope. Please let us know if you are planning on doing this and perhaps we can work together to apply the funds in a way that supports independence of the community and sustainability of the programs.
No, this is purely on a volunteer basis.