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Larry Larsen and his team make VolunTourism possible in places like Honduras. Want to know how, keep reading!
Larry Larsen and a colleague were German teachers. In 1974 they took a group of students to Germany with bicycles. It was planned as an outgrowth of the classroom. After three successful tours with their students, it was decided in the fall of 1977 to start a part-time summer business, which later grew into a full-time business. Ed-Ventures, Inc. was formed in 1990. Larry Larsen is the sole owner. Ed-Ventures has a staff of 15 full and part-time including five family members. Two-thirds of the staff is bi-lingual.
After starting with only Europe and many student groups, the company has evolved into a broader base, including many religious groups, which are sold directly and through other tour operators and travel agencies. 95% of the groups are customized, starting with a blank sheet of paper. We have also created a dba, Joyful Journeys, which will be working specifically on church related activities. Approximately 15% of our tours are now working with mission groups, pilgrimages or other church related groups.
Here is what Larry had to say about the importance of VolunTourism:
"It is the duty and obligation of corporations to give back in the most effective way possible. The travel business offers easy and effective opportunities to do that. It is our belief, that you can talk about the need for mission outreach, but people will understand it more clearly when they have seen the need themselves. Some groups want to have just a taste of volunteering abroad, but a taste will only whet the appetite. We believe they will come home with changed lives, ready to reach out to others and wanting to be involved in an even more significant way.
There is a definite desire and need on the part of most people to reach out. Many people want the opportunity to give back. When there is an identified need to fill, the travel marketplace can help fill that need, but also bring their guests to new vistas and fill needs the travelers did not know they had. The hosts in the foreign countries and the guests bringing assistance will both receive life-changing experiences."
The following is a description of one of Ed-Ventures VolunTourism Trips to Honduras:
Honduras 2005 - The Itinerary
Day 1 • Depart USA
Tuesdays 10am ET/7am PT
Our trip to Honduras begins as we board our flight for Honduras . Our connecting flight in Miami/Houston takes us to the city of Tegucigalpa (known as Tegus by the locals). Honduras ’ capital city is nestled in a beautiful valley surrounded by mountains and known for its ideal climate. Before leaving the city we take time to see the famous Christ of Picacho monument overlooking the city. We then travel northwest for approximately 1-1/2 hours to the community of La Paz , where we live and do our mission projects for the next few days. The afternoon and evening are spent taking a short tour of the La Paz area, meeting new friends, and settling into our accommodations. D
Days 2–7 • La Paz , Honduras • Mission Work
The group begins their mission work in La Paz and its surrounding communities today. Five days of mission work/projects are planned, according to the wishes of the group. The communities in the area have many needs and the group’s talents, skills, and resources are greatly appreciated. A large percentage of the population in Honduras still lives on less than $1 per day per family. B/L/D
Possible mission projects could include, but are not limited to:
• Pouring cement floors in homes of needy families who currently live with dirt floors
• Working with children at day care centers or area schools
• Helping with construction of a new church
• Repairing and painting a local school
• Repairing and painting a community day care center
• Helping to build a home for a needy family
• Helping to build a community center used to distribute food and medical supplies
• Repairing and painting the house where expectant mothers stay while waiting to deliver
A group of caring and supportive people from a church in La Paz will do everything possible to arrange and prepare for your team’s visit. They will attempt to organize work projects that meet the desires and abilities of the group. Mission project work begins each day around 8:00 am and typically ends around 1:00-2:00 pm with a break for lunch.
There are a variety of activities to fill the afternoons and evenings while in La Paz . Possible activities:
• Visit area villages (one is remote & is reached by crossing a swinging bridge)
• Visit area schools/day care facilities
• See how a bakery bakes pastries & breads in a huge fire-heated oven
• See how fireworks are made by local craftsmen
• See how ceramic tiles are made by local craftsmen
• Visit the La Paz Hospital
• Visit the house where expectant mothers stay while waiting to deliver
• Visit a home for elderly and AIDS patients operated by the Sisters of Calcutta (MotherTeresa’s Order)
• A trip to a hot springs
• Spend time with the local church youth group
Note: On Sunday morning, we visit the La Paz market. Later we spend time with Honduran children in Sunday School and participate in a worship service. There is free time before the late afternoon worship service.
Day 8 • Tela–Caribbean Coastal Region
This morning we drive north to Tela, a town known for its beautiful white sand beaches, warm water, and ‘banana town’ history. For many years, Tela was home-base for the owners and producers of Chiquita bananas. En route to Tela, we stop for a time in SanPedro Sula , Honduras ’ second largest city, to explore and shop in the open market. We spend the late afternoon and evening exploring Tela, strolling, and relaxing on the beautiful beaches that have become Tela’s main attraction. B/D
Day 9 • Tela/La Ceiba – Caribbean Costal Region
There are a number of optional activities from which the group can choose today. The accommodations and meals for any of the options below are included in the price. However, the admissions have not yet been included. They will be added to the price when the group selects an option. B/D
Options Available for Day 9
Option 1 • A Day at the Beach
Spend a full day relaxing on the beach and riding the ocean waves. Tela’s beaches are the finest in Honduras and considered among the best in the world.
Option 2 • Boat Trip Adventure to Punta Sal National Park
Punta Sal National Park once served as haven to pirates and buccaneers. Based on its size and biodiversity, the park is one of the most important in Honduras . Within the park, Micos Lagoon is home to over 350 species of birds during the summer (December – May).
Option 3 • Miami
Visit Miami , a Garífuna village on the beach, where visitors see life as these villagers have lived it for over two centuries. The village, built entirely with thatched-roofed huts, shows the black African culture as it existed two hundred years ago and remains to this day.
Option 4 • Rainforest Adventure
Hike through the jungle of a breathtaking rainforest. This excursion includes a jump into crystal clear pools and a shower under an 80-meter waterfall. Enjoy a tropical picnic at the base of the falls. Forging rivers and making a 20-foot cliff jump into a deep river pool are all part of the adventure.
Option 5 • Horseback Riding Expedition
Take an amazing 5-6 hour horseback riding expedition along deserted beaches and savanna. The horses are well trained and well groomed, ranging from timid for beginners to lively for more advanced riders. Gallop along the empty beach or take it easy and enjoy nature on the back of your horse. With the majestic Caribbean on one side and a spectacular view of the mountains on the other, it is an unforgettable experience. River crossings, a beach picnic, and swimming are all part of the adventure.
Option 6 • White Water Rafting
Raft the Rio Cangrejal . The water is warm and no wetsuits are needed. Excellent Class III-IV rapids include some steep drops and long wave-trains. The trip includes a 5-meter cliff jump, friendly rapids for floating, and a 100-meter rock gorge that participants can swim through.
Option 7 • Kayaking Adventure
Kayak through Cacao Lagoon mangroves and along the shores of the Caribbean . On the excursion enjoy a variety of tropical wildlife (including howler monkeys), a tropical beach picnic, and a visit to a Garífuna village.
Day 10 • Return to the USA
After breakfast, we are transported to San Pedro Sula International Airport for our return flight to the States. We leave with memories of unforgettable experiences, a better understanding of the Honduran culture, and a wealth of new friends. B
B =Breakfast L=Lunch D=Dinner
For more information on Ed-Ventures, Inc., please visit their website or contact Larry and his team directly:
ADDRESS: Ed-Ventures, Inc.
320 Elton Hills Drive NW
Rochester MN 55901, USA
Tel: 800-658-7128 or 507-289-3332
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