As a follow-up to the feature on Traveller Collective, Tara Koop shared her story of winning the #ontheroadwithtc contest that enabled her and her husband, Nico, to travel to Ethiopia with Darryl McIvor to help launch and education project. Find out how the trip came about, how it went, and the impact it had on Tara and Nico…
How did you hear about Traveller Collective?
My husband found them on Instagram and bought me a clip and some rings as a gift. When I first got the package and I learned about their mission, I was immediately hooked.
What about Traveller Collective appealed to you?
The inspiration behind the company and their continued goal to help impoverished communities. I have always loved companies and products that help give back in some way.
How did you decide to get involved with the project?
I was lucky enough to win the trip to Ethiopia in October 2017. Never in a million years would I have expected to win something like that. It was a huge surprise and an incredible opportunity that I will forever cherish.
How were you selected? Were there other people wanting to go?
I won the trip through Instagram. When I was in Costa Rica, I took a picture of my clip and tagged Traveller Collective’s hashtag #ontheroadwithtc. Then in July, I was notified that I won! I had seen tons of other entries, because who wouldn’t want to go on a trip like that? Hence, it was the last thing I expected to win. My husband, Nico, also came on the trip with me. We are both so thankful to have been able to experience that together.
When you got to Ethiopia did the scale of poverty and issues meet your expectations?
Prior to the trip, I actually tried to not think about it too much or to imagine what it might be like. I really just went into it with an open mind not knowing what to expect. However, I will say that it had an impact on me that I can’t quite describe with words. No pictures could compare to actually being immersed in it and experiencing it first hand. One morning, we walked down to the local well and filled up some of the water jugs for the children. One of the young girls told us she has to walk about an hour one way to get water, three times every day. So much work to get a necessity that we can easily get from our sink. It truly makes you appreciate everything you have.
How were you received by Ethiopian people you were helping?
They were so kind and very happy that we were there. Driving up to the school for the inauguration, communities we were passing through lined up and had parades for us. They made signs, sang songs, and gave us food. The people in the Adisenay community, where the school was built, gave us gifts and welcomed us into their homes to learn how to cook some local dishes. Their smiles and warm hearts made a lasting impression on me.
Has this experience resulted in a desire to do more overseas charity work?
Definitely. You can’t experience something like that and not want to be a part of it again. There is so much opportunity out there, whether it’s actually traveling to the location or even donating from home. It is such a reward to help others and to see the impact it can make on their lives. My husband recently reminded me of a Winston Churchill quote: “You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.” We want to live to be the best versions of ourselves we can be and hopefully continue to impact others’ lives in a positive way.