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  #16  
Old 19 Aug 2007
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Consider Advance-Africa.Com

Hi,


My organization locates grassroots projects and sends volunteers to them. Volunteers will typically live within the orphanage/school/hospital etc or within a walking distance/short bus ride. You will not offend anyone by walking to the project. Many of our volunteers choose to walk distances that even locals would normally take a short bus ride.


Projects that host volunteers are able to have the accommodation fee go to them. The extra is used for airport pickup, communication expenses etc.


Some of the projects we have in Kenya include;


Dream Project Children's Home - African Children & Orphans and
Brightstar Kindergarten - Kenya Slums - African Orphans & at need Children



We are locating others in throughout Africa and uploading on the website soon. Most of the administrators of these projects have no access to the Internet and cannot be able to recruit volunteers. Without our service, they would not be able to get volunteers. They are not known to donors and therefore do not get funding.


We target only projects that are absolutely in need. Some Orphanages attract so much of donor funding and corporate funding – we avoid these; they also tend to get all the International volunteers because they are well known.

See: Volunteer in Kenya | Volunteer Opportunity Abroad | International Volunteer Work

All the best in your tour
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  #17  
Old 30 Aug 2007
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Talking The Voice of Evil Humanitarian speaking...

Hi all,

as with a lot of threads here, this one has become more and more interesting as it deviated further away from the original request... but at least it also shows that, not only for overlanders and travellers, it remains always a good topic to discuss over a - or, the new alternative indeed to the local pub, the bulletin board...

I find it most amazing that the strongest opinions seem to come from people who have, let's be honest, zero experience, other than just seeing it from a distance, on television, or reading an article of a fiasco (a very good one for that matter - perfect example of the huge mistakes that have been made and still are being made) that dates from years ago.

Let me first of all say that I am part of the 'evil' humanitarian business. I am the country director of one of those multi-national NGO's (I do quite like the use of the term 'multi-national' here - it immediately makes it sound the equivalent of Chiquita, BP, or alike), working in a country where most of you (and that included myself when I was overlanding in Africa - yes, I have traveled 7 months through Africa, so I have experienced that part as well) would hardly dare to travel through. We work mainly with refugees, and amongst other activities 'run' a refugee camp quite in the middle of the desert, providing amongst other services daily water for 27,000 refugees (300,000 liter water a day, every day - try to do that with grass-root work in a place where last year there was 4 days of rain, and where there is hardly or no wells - and despite hydrogeological surveys, not to be found either), primary and secondary health services, education, protection programs - and I won't bother you more with the other ones).

Arrogant to think that a lot of those people would be dead now if it weren't for the assistance we (or more in general the 'evil' humanitarian business) are providing them, either of plain and simple thurst or hunger, dyphteria, typhoid, cholera - or any other ones of your choice... Less true because it is arrogant? Don't think so... but maybe other people who have actually been in those refugee camps might have a better opinion about it...

Is it a business? Of course it is - how else would you run an organisation, humanitarian or not... Are our staff more or less motivated than volunteers just because they are paid? I doubt it... Do we have overhead that has no direct benefit for the beneficiaries? Again, of course - but have you thought about all the overhead that went into the apple that you bought this morning in the supermarket? Why would that overhead be less in providing a service to refugees, especially in a country where everything is hugely expensive, where 40% of my fleet has been carjacked in 2 months (yes, we are one of those white Landcruiser driving organisations - but to make it maybe less bad for you, not the shiny UN ones...), where I have curfew as of 6pm so I have at least to try and make life for staff working in those conditions for 12 or more months as bearable as possible, where power and water is non-existing so yes, I do need a generator to run things or water tanks to prevent my staff starting to get really smelly after a few days...

Am I (or my colleagues for that matter - I take myself the liberty to speak a bit on behalf of...) looking down on small grass-root organisations doing fantastic field-work? Not at all, on the contrary even - but let's also be realistic, and see the things they are not able to do, just because of scale... and as someone in the thread pointed out quite rightly, skilled people is also pretty essential - which again does not mean I consider them all as unskilled, on the contrary - but a bleeding heart sentiment is in this world just not sufficient anymore. I know very well that running an orphanage looks very useful and can be very rewarding - but people tend to forget (or just don't know) that very often orphanages are used by local people to put their kids there just because they think they will have a better future, or because the family structures have changed and the new father does not accept the kids, or a lot more other reasons you can think of.

I could give a lot more examples but that is not the point of this reply - I just wanted to point out that the situation is a bit more complicated than it might seem from a distance - or even when having seen it with your eyes when traveling or overlanding. Yes, the 'big' humanitarian world has made enormous mistakes, yes, the UN is a money-guzzling organisation which is often lead by political motives - but also yes, people in the field are most often driven, dedicated people...

Ok, got it of my chest You can all shoot now... oh, and in case you were wondering, I work and live in Chad - so please all of you feel free to come by and stay for a couple of days, have a few cold s, take the rest before continuing, and continue this discussion while enjoying the luxury humanitarian expat life I am leading...

cheers/jef
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  #18  
Old 30 Aug 2007
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Originally Posted by Caminando View Post
Many people will question this, Eddie.
Look...if there is a perfect agency or a solution to alleviating poverty...somebody please proffer this one up...

AND question all you want, but getting nominated for the Nobel Peace prize over 7 times is not questionable...
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  #19  
Old 19 Sep 2007
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Originally Posted by Jef Imans View Post
Hi all,

I find it most amazing that the strongest opinions seem to come from people who have, let's be honest, zero experience, other than just seeing it from a distance, on television, or reading an article of a fiasco (a very good one for that matter - perfect example of the huge mistakes that have been made and still are being made) that dates from years ago.
you seem to feel superior, are you from Antwerp?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jef Imans View Post
Let me first of all say that I am part of the 'evil' humanitarian business. I am the country director of one of those multi-national NGO's (I do quite like the use of the term 'multi-national' here - it immediately makes it sound the equivalent of Chiquita, BP, or alike), working in a country where most of you (and that included myself when I was overlanding in Africa - yes, I have traveled 7 months through Africa, so I have experienced that part as well) would hardly dare to travel through. We work mainly with refugees, and amongst other activities 'run' a refugee camp quite in the middle of the desert, providing amongst other services daily water for 27,000 refugees (300,000 liter water a day, every day - try to do that with grass-root work in a place where last year there was 4 days of rain, and where there is hardly or no wells - and despite hydrogeological surveys, not to be found either), primary and secondary health services, education, protection programs - and I won't bother you more with the other ones).

Arrogant to think that a lot of those people would be dead now if it weren't for the assistance we (or more in general the 'evil' humanitarian business) are providing them, either of plain and simple thurst or hunger, dyphteria, typhoid, cholera - or any other ones of your choice... Less true because it is arrogant? Don't think so... but maybe other people who have actually been in those refugee camps might have a better opinion about it...

Is it a business? Of course it is - how else would you run an organisation, humanitarian or not... Are our staff more or less motivated than volunteers just because they are paid? I doubt it... Do we have overhead that has no direct benefit for the beneficiaries? Again, of course - but have you thought about all the overhead that went into the apple that you bought this morning in the supermarket? Why would that overhead be less in providing a service to refugees, especially in a country where everything is hugely expensive, where 40% of my fleet has been carjacked in 2 months (yes, we are one of those white Landcruiser driving organisations - but to make it maybe less bad for you, not the shiny UN ones...), where I have curfew as of 6pm so I have at least to try and make life for staff working in those conditions for 12 or more months as bearable as possible, where power and water is non-existing so yes, I do need a generator to run things or water tanks to prevent my staff starting to get really smelly after a few days...
Should we give you a medal?

On the other hand, if the logistical nightmare is so terrible, and everything so difficult and expensive because of the country,
I would expect a well-run multinational organisation to choose a local person as "country director", not a NGO hopper with no local knowledge whatsoever, who is likely to be fooled at each and every turn.
I don't believe that no competent person could be found in Chad willing to work for your dismal salary and terrible benefits.
Which points to the reality that aid work is in fact a "job program" for (sometimes idealistic) first world people, with no need for results nor accountability. Same thing for voluntary jobs.

Which brings us back at the original question.
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  #20  
Old 19 Sep 2007
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Now it's getting interesting

You can get a degree in it nowadays; disaster management and all that.......
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  #21  
Old 20 Sep 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jef Imans View Post
Hi all,

as with a lot of threads here, this one has become more and more interesting as it deviated further away from the original request... but at least it also shows that, not only for overlanders and travellers, it remains always a good topic to discuss over a - or, the new alternative indeed to the local pub, the bulletin board...



cheers/jef

NO this is not a good topic to dicus over a ! A dicussion over LR versus LC or something of the kind is a worthy discussion over a . This is NGO farce is something where actual harm is done! But I guess this issue will never come to a resolution because there is to much money involved!

Don't you NGO people see that doing your kid's homework won't help him!!

cheers,
Noel
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  #22  
Old 26 Sep 2007
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Picking up on the link someone put earlier in the thread, about TEFL opportunities...does anyone have experience/opinions on how this is viewed in various parts of Africa? Would the 'well-educated' Africans who have asked for all NGOs and aid workers to bugger off, as stated in a couple of posts, also have a similar view of teaching?

I ask, partly because I am interested in doing this on my trip through Africa (having done a year in China a few yearrs ago) and don't want to stick my oar in where it is not wanted, and partly because it would be interesting to know what sort of 'services' are welcome, and which ones are not.

I can see how young Westerners paying thousands to go and build huts to make themselves feel generous (not that it is bad per se, maybe just misguided) could be damaging. Especially when I have read reports criticising the lack of overall structure/follow-through/continuation in these sorts of projects. Is there still a need, or a demand, for English to be taught? And if so, do they need native speakers of English to help with this or are they quite capable of teaching it themselves?

Apologies if this is a slight de-rail, but I would be interested to know how teaching compares to the big bad NGOs.
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  #23  
Old 26 Sep 2007
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teaching

You have to look at the bigger picture, in the long run!

As long as Westerners keep hopping in to help out and teach kids, as an example, the authorities will not bother to set up a decent system to teach locals how to teach! Consequently the dilemma of this thread will still be relevant in 30 years!

If you go look for a post where you can teach teachers how to teach or improve their skils, you might break the vicious circle!

So, yes. It's my opinion that even teaching is disturbing the natural processes and devellopment if not considered with great care.

cheers,
Noel
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  #24  
Old 26 Sep 2007
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Originally Posted by MeridiaNx View Post
how teaching compares to the big bad NGOs.
I don't even think it's the 'big bad NGO's' it's the new 'gap year' companies that are sprouting up all over .. kids paying a thousand or more to go somewhere, have no help, the money doesn't reach the site (goes into the pockets of those behind desks) and the locals are left with a kid just out of school who's 'meant to know what they're doing' ... even teaching English.

Personally I think they should all be shot (gap year companies that is!) and let the 'decent' NGO's get the 'right' people in to do the job ..

Kira
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  #25  
Old 26 Sep 2007
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Originally Posted by noel di pietro View Post
As long as Westerners keep hopping in to help out and teach kids, as an example, the authorities will not bother to set up a decent system to teach locals how to teach! Consequently the dilemma of this thread will still be relevant in 30 years!

If you go look for a post where you can teach teachers how to teach or improve their skils, you might break the vicious circle!
Cheers Noel, useful to see it from another point of view. Your website link suggests you are Dutch, but your name seem Italian? Either way, I wonder if you have anything similar in your education system to what I experienced at school? Granted, it was studying French and Spanish, but we had a couple of young 'assistants' in the departments. They were used sparingly in the younger classes for the occasional 'flavour' of real culture from their respective countries. In the older (16-18) classes there would be individual oral sessions, mainly designed for familiarisation with colloquial speech and accent work.

We found it very helpful to have someone in the position of a 'semi-teacher', in that they were easy going, friendly, not part of the school hierarchy; in other words, not in the usual authoritarian position of teachers. So when left to speak with them they gave a very good idea of where they came from, their society etc. It provided a stark contrast from the usual, repetitive, phrasebook/category type work, 'The Restaurant', 'Buying Tickets' and so on.

Do you feel this is an appropriate function for native English speakers to provide? Is this sort of work used in Africa yet? Certainly my experience teaching in China was that this is as helpful over there (with caveats) as it was to me. The kids would often come back to my room after classes, chat about where I came from, my family and so on. They'd play games on the PC I had, or show me their favourite films, music, cartoons and so on. They were able to discuss things they normally would not.

Would value your opinion, and/or anyone else's, on that :-)

Quote:
Originally Posted by TT-Kira View Post
I don't even think it's the 'big bad NGO's' it's the new 'gap year' companies that are sprouting up all over .. kids paying a thousand or more to go somewhere, have no help, the money doesn't reach the site (goes into the pockets of those behind desks) and the locals are left with a kid just out of school who's 'meant to know what they're doing' ... even teaching English.
I know what you mean, though I didn't specifically mean NGOs per se, was just giving a nod to what's already cropped up in the thread ;-)

Sad to say...I was one of those GAP year kiddies, or at least partly. Not the hut building type, but the TEFL type. Neither did we pay more than would cover our teaching program and orientation time in Beijing IMO. As you say, my school didn't help me out at all, so was a bit in the dark. Being honest, I would say that my time there was useful to half the kids (the brighter ones) but not the others. With the lower sets, their discipline problems (try controlling seventy 13 year olds when you can't speak Chinese and the school don't assist you in any way!) and lack of any basic English hampered what they might be able to get from me being there. With the brighter kids I would say they did find a good deal of use, particularly as a contrast to the methods usually used to teach them (not that one way is better than another necessarily). And when I had a few chances to teach the older (16-18) year olds, they were able to use me for things they wouldn't normally learn in a class IMO.

It's a knotty issue, this altruism lark! Liked the quote from Twain though.

Assuming that Noel and Bossies' views, that teaching the teachers is a more beneficial use of time (and I can see why, good point), what can be done for work in Africa then? Be that 'charitable' in any way or not, do you see any volunteer schemes currently available that are worthwhile/that aren't destructive? Just to throw that into the mix ;-)
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  #26  
Old 26 Sep 2007
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Originally Posted by MeridiaNx View Post
Be that 'charitable' in any way or not, do you see any volunteer schemes currently available that are worthwhile/that aren't destructive? Just to throw that into the mix ;-)
I think there are a lot of 'schemes' that don't involve pen & paper pushers in the western world ready to grab 'gap year' money .. I know of 2 that have asked me if I know of some volunteers heading their way, one in Dakar & the other in Guinea Bissau .. interestingly enough I've had two people contact me about the G.Bissau one recently who are on their way down there.

Forums like this one & other travel orientated ones are the way to go ... if you can't get a 'job' with an NGO initially

Kira
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  #27  
Old 28 Sep 2007
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Originally Posted by uganduro View Post
"We do no benevolences whose first benefit is not for ourselves." (Mark Twain)
People are often horrified to discover charity workers are concerned with their own careers and wage packets... it's a spiralling process of disappointment that starts (and should end) with the tooth fairy.

Aid-dependency is unhealthy, but the fact is NGO's, large and tiny, have an important role in all societies, even the wealthiest. You can't rely on governments and market forces to solve all problems.
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  #28  
Old 3 Oct 2007
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Hello Charlotte

Join CouchSurfing !!!

I have found that joining couchsurfing.com is fantastically useful in 'getting local' - you can build up a network of LOCAL people, who live and work in the various areas.

Everyone on there have been incredibly helpful - especially in Africa, cos everyone is keen to welcome visitors.

Not an AID ORGANISATION in sight!

I am planning a trip next year, and have already hooked up with a school teacher in Mali, a community worker in Algeria, a farmer in Angola and hope to increase my network so I have a local network in every country I visit.

Just to give you an idea - this is the map of local members for the countries I was looking in, along the west coast (and a few on the East)



Ofcourse - there is the added benefit of, once a member, having a GLOBAL COUCH to crash on, whenever you travel!
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  #29  
Old 4 Oct 2007
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Originally Posted by uganduro View Post
you seem to feel superior, are you from Antwerp?




Should we give you a medal?

On the other hand, if the logistical nightmare is so terrible, and everything so difficult and expensive because of the country,
I would expect a well-run multinational organisation to choose a local person as "country director", not a NGO hopper with no local knowledge whatsoever, who is likely to be fooled at each and every turn.
I don't believe that no competent person could be found in Chad willing to work for your dismal salary and terrible benefits.
Which points to the reality that aid work is in fact a "job program" for (sometimes idealistic) first world people, with no need for results nor accountability. Same thing for voluntary jobs.

Which brings us back at the original question.

Seems I stepped on some sensitive toes here... I would not consider comparing my experience with others as arrogant, and certainly not very much to do with where I come from... all I wanted to do here was to give a point of view from the inside...

And did I even remotely indicate that I ask for some recognition for what I am doing? I think one of my points was indeed that it is just a job, with some specific conditions maybe, but nothing more than that... As for expats versus national staff, one of the targets that most international NGO's have, is to train local staff so that the number of expats can be reduced over time. Of course, if you say that the country is filled anyway with competent people, there would be no need anyway for extra education, or any form of development, would there? Finding a person with the right skill set and experience in the country that ranks 174 out of 177 in the human development index charts, well, it might be challenging...

I presume that you know about the results I need to provide, or the accountability that we have here since you are so confident in making an easy statement... would you not consider providing 300,000 liter of drinking water a day in the middle of the desert, every single day, for 27,000 refugees, as a result? Would you not consider assuring primary health care for the same population, in an environment where there is basically nothing, and therefore reduce the mortality rate, not as holding quite some accountability? Or, in the same environment, setting up an educational system for 14,000 kids reflecting the educational system where they come from (in this case Darfur, which they fled for their own government or for other rebel groups), so that, when they return to their home country, they at least will have some basis to help build up their country again, and not having lost 3, 5 or 10 years without any form of education?

Is what we are doing the right thing? I honestly don't know - the same way that I also don't know if it's a good thing if doctors want to keep at all cost a patient alive, even if all hope seems to be lost... but if you feel arrogant enough to know that all international NGO's should pull out because it is only 'a job program' and therefore leave those people to solve their own problems, and come up with a decent alternative to take care of 180,000 refugees fleeing the Darfur region, plus about the same amount of people internally in Chad fleeing for inter-tribal and ethnical violence, please feel free... you might find it to be a bit harder though than just making some easy, cheap statements...

And by the way, I am still with my first NGO - but I guess you would still consider that to be an NGO hopper...

But, as usual, safe travels, and still always welcome for a cold in Chad...
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  #30  
Old 26 Aug 2008
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forgot about this thread.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jef Imans View Post
Seems I stepped on some sensitive toes here... I would not consider comparing my experience with others as arrogant, and certainly not very much to do with where I come from... all I wanted to do here was to give a point of view from the inside...
Dear Jef, you did say that people commenting didn't have any experience "from the inside". There you were dead wrong.

Quote:
As for expats versus national staff, one of the targets that most international NGO's have, is to train local staff so that the number of expats can be reduced over time.
This is a noble aim. Since 1950 or so. Unfortunately, in reality, all evidence points in the other direction.
So what are you gonna do when your groomed successor takes over?

Quote:
Of course, if you say that the country is filled anyway with competent people, there would be no need anyway for extra education, or any form of development, would there? Finding a person with the right skill set and experience in the country that ranks 174 out of 177 in the human development index charts, well, it might be challenging...
The country doesn't need to be filled, it only needs one!
Are you really saying that there would be no Chad national willing to work for your salary and benefits?

Please call home for a reality check. What's the average per capita yearly income in chad compared to your "daily" salary? 0.5 -1 ?

Quote:
I presume that you know about the results I need to provide, or the accountability that we have here since you are so confident in making an easy statement... would you not consider providing 300,000 liter of drinking water a day in the middle of the desert, every single day, for 27,000 refugees, as a result? Would you not consider assuring primary health care for the same population, in an environment where there is basically nothing, and therefore reduce the mortality rate, not as holding quite some accountability? Or, in the same environment, setting up an educational system for 14,000 kids reflecting the educational system where they come from (in this case Darfur, which they fled for their own government or for other rebel groups), so that, when they return to their home country, they at least will have some basis to help build up their country again, and not having lost 3, 5 or 10 years without any form of education?
It's a noble aim. I've got tears in my eyes. But probably among these 27000-180.000 refugees there will be one competent person who would love to have your salary and decision power to really improve their own folks' lot - without the need for "home leave" and other white guy's benefits?

Question remains, if it's not a white guys job program, why does a guy from the first world gets all the money? Because of his non existant "master in water emergencies"? because he has no experience whatsoever with NGO's (your words)?


Quote:
Is what we are doing the right thing? I honestly don't know - the same way that I also don't know if it's a good thing if doctors want to keep at all cost a patient alive, even if all hope seems to be lost...
Why don't you ask the doctor? If you ask me: no, you're not doing the right thing.

Quote:
but if you feel arrogant enough to know that all international NGO's should pull out because it is only 'a job program' and therefore leave those people to solve their own problems, and come up with a decent alternative to take care of 180,000 refugees fleeing the Darfur region, plus about the same amount of people internally in Chad fleeing for inter-tribal and ethnical violence, please feel free...
I am arrogant enough, also from Antwerp, and in my arrogance I simply see it's nothing more than a job program, 'en passant' fooling the people at home

that "we're making a difference".

Yeah right.

The moment they stop paying you, you're out of there next day, off to your first world bank account, or traveling around 'oh so beautiful' africa depending on that stuffed account.
So far for "doing the right thing".

Quote:
you might find it to be a bit harder though than just making some easy, cheap statements...
They are easy and cheap. But why don't you prove these statements are false, with facts instead of heart breaking sentiments?


A well-known editor of an east-african newspaper once wrote a dry article about the aid business titled:
"What do NGO's do when they're not neglecting refugees? "

it's still a tough question to answer.
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Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.



Books & DVDs

amazon

All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.


Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!






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