I recently discovered a designer whose attire I find irresistible—as I suspect it is (or will be) for many an active, trendy, and socially conscious traveler. Alp-n-Rock’s tees are chic, original, and eco-friendly (made in California from organic cotton and recycled materials); more importantly, they directly contribute to a wonderful philanthropic effort.
By purchasing an Alp-n-Rock shirt (which range from $85-$260), you’re helping to send a child to school. The apparel company donates 10% of its profits to Room to Read, an organization that finances education for girls in developing countries (Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Laos, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and Zambia). Room to Read has already sent 4 million children to school and built 10,000 libraries; Alp-n-Rock founder Susanne Reich’s personal ambition is to give 1,000 girls an education using her brand’s proceeds.
I had the pleasure of visiting Sayulita, Mexico while helping out on a fashion shoot for T+L back in June 2007 with the amazing photographer Anne Menke, who has been living in the laid-back hippie town for five years now with her three sons and husband. (Anne recently shot the cover of our Family insert in the current March issue using one of her three sons and local kids, cover below.)
Anne also founded the first green school in Mexico in Sayulita and will be holding a fundraiser for it March 1st at Splashlight Studios (75 Varick St., New York). There will be silent auctions on photographs from top photographers (including many of our own T+L shooters), hotel stays, fashion items, beauty products and more!
The cruise industry’s largest trade organization let loose on critics of Royal Caribbean International today, saying that the cruise line is bringing relief aid to Haiti despite the ridicule and disdain that has been heaped on the company in the press and online message boards. Richard Sasso, chairman of the marketing committee of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), told a press conference this morning that RCI should be praised for its efforts, not criticized.
The controversy began soon after last week’s earthquake in Haiti, when the cruise line announced that it would continue visits to the undamaged port of Labadee and its private resort on the north side of Haiti, about 60 miles from the ruins of the nation’s capital, Port-au-Prince. The port calls have been characterized by some in the press and in the blogosphere as an out-of-touch decision to allow sunbathers and umbrella-drink aficionados to lollygag in the tropical sun while the number of dead and dying increased daily on the other side of the country. In fact, according to Sasso, the decision was driven by the need to deliver food, water, and other supplies at a time when the country’s main port has been nearly destroyed and its airport hampered by having only one working runway.
“They didn’t have to go back to Labadee,” said Sasso, his voice rising in outrage as he addressed a crowd of reporters at the annual CLIA media update in New York City. “Not now, not next year, or in three years. They put themselves out there despite all the criticism.”
Aid and relief agencies are rushing to assist the people of Haiti after yesterday's devastating earthquake. But they can't do it without you or, more accurately, without your money. Although it's really easy to donate your dollars, it is unimaginably difficult to actually help people. The best fund raisers in the business are not the best relief workers in the business.
If I learned one thing during nearly 18 years as an aid worker and journalist in Africa it is this: Nothing is simple. Helping people is much more complicated than just delivering food and medical supplies. To accomplish these tasks with even moderate success requires tact, skills, knowledge, and political savvy that can't be learned from books and newspapers.
So take a minute. And take some responsibility. As a donor, you are responsible for what is done with your money. And the wide range of organizations who need your money aren't going to do the same things with it. And how do you know what your favorite charity is planning to do in Haiti? Ask them. Demand that they put the information on their websites and in their PR material. It's not enough that they slap pictures of suffering Haitians online.
What do you need to know? First and foremost, is your favorite charity already working in Haiti? Have they had personnel there for years, with contacts in affected areas? Do the really know the country and the local leaders who will help deliver aid quickly and equitably to those who need it most?
If you’ve watched the news, been online, or spoken to anyone today, you probably know that a 7.0 magnitude quake hit last night 10 miles outside of Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince—the strongest earthquake in Haiti in over 200 years.
The city's destruction is staggering: thousands of buildings have been leveled, including the Haitian National Palace, but more importantly, there are countless people missing and trapped in the rubble. Officials say that some three million residents, or one-third of the island nation's residents, have been directly affected by the disaster.
It’s no secret that Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the Western world, and it needs our help now more than ever. Consider making a donation at one of these active, on-the-ground charities:
Red Cross: Text “HAITI” to “90999” to give $10 (your cell phone bill will be charged); donate online; or call 800-RED-CROSS
Beginning today through December 10, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts will be teaming up with Sleeping Children Around the World, a charity that donates "bedkits" to children in more than 33 countries around the world. For each gift card sold during this time period, the hotel chain will donate the cost of one bedkit to the organization.