Getting the opportunity to use one’s vocation or avocation to further a worthy cause is something that nearly all of us seem to aspire to, but don’t always fully pursue or know how to go about. Since everyone who visits this innovative site (and I emphasize ‘in’) lists travel either as his or her business or hobby: the project I’m about to mention may be your perfect chance.
I was lucky enough to actually have the opportunity come to me quite serendipitously. A couple of years ago, I was researching a trip through the various islands of the Indian Ocean and found the tiny nation of Comoros to be a remarkably hard location to get information about through the internet, so I started a thread on a very popular travel forum asking for any and all input regarding tourism on that island.
Though the thread itself turned out to be something of a disappointment (only a handful of fairly vague responses), a private message related to it would turn out to be the elusive chance that I had always hoped for in terms of passing on goodwill.
Mr. Fred Siwak of Ipswich, Massachusetts dropped me a brief note regarding his personal project and goal: having his artwork photographed in every country of the globe. At first I thought it was a commendable effort, but of course which artist would not like to have his creations reach such a wide audience? After a bit of further research I found out just how remarkable both Fred and his project were— in 1998, Mr. Siwak was diagnosed with the degenerative muscle condition amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (A.L.S.), commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease.
A.L.S. affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, leading to muscle weakness and atrophy. Confined to a wheelchair, Fred is almost completely paralyzed and uses a BiPAP — a machine that pumps air into his lungs — because he has only 20 percent of normal breathing strength.