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A Friendly Planet

by Sandra Ramani

More than 35 years ago, Peggy Goldman was a divorced mother looking to provide for her family, when the opportunity to plan a group trip to Israel ended up changing her life. Now, decades later, her global tour-operator/travel-planning company Friendly Planet Travel helps change other people’s lives—through engaging trips, and its recently launched Friendly Planet Foundation.

While the company has long worked with a variety of philanthropic projects, the non-profit Foundation—which receives a portion of every guest booking from Friendly Planet Travel, and accepts any donations guests would like to make directly—will serve as a hub for all its charitable causes around the world. (One hundred percent of the Foundation’s proceed go toward the projects it supports.)

Projects include The Trailblazer Foundation, which works to install clean water systems and establish sustainable commerce in underserved villages around Siem Reap, Cambodia. In South Africa, each tour guest will receive the gift of a bracelet purchased by the Foundation from Relate Bracelets, whose proceeds go toward animal conservation, education and social services. And through a long-standing relationship with Kiva, the Foundation helps fund micro-loans everywhere from Uganda to Guatemala.

On a recent Friendly Planet trip to Nepal, we got to see firsthand one of the newest projects to be funded by the Foundation. Set outside of Kathmandu, The Bamboo School provides private education to 1,200 students of all ages, with classes held in gable-roofed cabins made entirely of sustainable bamboo (hence the name). Based on feedback from the students and the dedicated staff, the Foundation will provide the school with 200 new desks and a much-requested library. Guests traveling to Nepal with the company will also have the opportunity to visit the school and mingle with the lively students, whose open demeanors, positive attitudes and dedication to their studies is inspiring—and help bring to life everything a “friendly planet” should be. Friendlyplanet.com

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