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"I travelled with an NGO called “Operation Groundswell” and they promote something called “backpacktivism” which is backpacking but with activism. 

The trip I went on was for animal and environmental conservation! The first week we worked with an NGO called Ockenden, who goes to rural areas and tries to educate farmers on sustainable farming. They introduced a term called “Permaculture” which combines permanence, agriculture, and culture. It’s very important because the farmers sometimes don’t realize the long-term impact because they are focused on short term impact. 

We met with the chairwoman of an NGO called “Plastic Free Cambodia” and she is showing Cambodians how plastic is ruining our earth. She teaches recycling and replacement of every-day plastic (metal straws, reusable shopping bags, biodegradable products) which is important because any time you buy any type of drink here they give you a straw, and straws are bad for the environment. 

We went to the Mekong Turtle conservation program to release endangered turtles into the river in Cambodia, and learned about their efforts in preserving the soft-shelled turtles of Cambodia. 

After we went to the Elephant Valley project in Cambodia and worked with them for a week. We helped clean, prepared meals, made medicine balls for the elephants, and spent time just observing the elephants.

I highly recommend Operation Groundswell if anyone is looking into travelling with a purpose."

- Skyla

"This past summer I went on an environmental justice trip to India with a volunteer organization named Operation Groundswell. On this trip we went to four different regions in India; all of which had very diverse ecosystems. In New Delhi, we spent days  reforesting a heavily populated community. In Old Delhi, we worked with a not-for-profit known as Swetccha, we went to local schools to create “mini farms.” These farms filled with vegetation to increase air quality, to teach the importance of care for the environment, and to provide resources for them in school. The trip differed greatly in Anjainisain. We were isolated in a small spiritual hostel with a school being about 2 km uphill each morning. There, we spent each morning with young children singing songs about unity and peace, followed by learning how they appreciate the earth. Each afternoon we would hike the Himalayas and go on what our guru called “mindfulness meditation hikes.” Here, we would let go of all our fears, worries, and thoughts. It taught us how to appreciate the earth for all it gives us. Sometimes, we would stop to meet families that live in  on the mountains, to ask how life is with no technology, no heat or AC, and living off the land. Our conversations with them left each volunteer with a new appreciation for what they have and an understanding that we must learn to be mindful when consuming. We don’t need everything! This trip, with all its lessons and opportunities, left me with an even greater love for Earth and a stronger passion to protect it. I am so thankful for all it gave me and all I was able to give it." - Katrina

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