When Eliza was a teenager, her dream was to volunteer in orphanages all over the world. So when she turned 18, she packed her bags and headed to Guatemala to volunteer in an orphanage. Her first task was to sort through a container of goods that had been donated to the orphanage from the USA. Inside the container was a pair of snow skis. She remembers realising in that moment that she was a bit like the skis: very well intentioned, but not much use in the context of a Guatemalan orphanage. At the time, she spoke very little Spanish and had minimal experience working with children.
This was when she first started to become aware that making the world a better place through orphanage volunteering was more complex than she had anticipated. Fast-forward a few years and Eliza carried out her Masters research looking into best practice in volunteer tourism, worked for a volunteer-receiving organisation in Peru, and then worked for a volunteer-sending organisation in New Zealand. During this time, she placed many volunteers in orphanages.
In 2013, Eliza stepped away from her work in voluntourism and co-founded GOOD Travel with three other women from Peru, South Africa and USA. They wanted to offer an alternative to voluntourism for people seeking to have a positive social, economic and environmental impact on the places they visit. Through GOOD Travel's work with ChildSafe and Rethink Orphanages, Eliza and the GOOD Travel team have come to understand the importance of taking a pro-active approach to child protection.
So 18 years later, Eliza's dream has changed: from wanting to volunteer in orphanages all over the world to wanting to help end volunteering in orphanages. Through GOOD Travel, she will be sharing the volunteering checklist from ReThink Volunteering and encouraging all GOOD travellers to watch The Love You Give. She believes that the key lies in empowering travellers and tourism businesses to slowly and strategically find alternatives for supporting marginalised children and their families.