One can never discount the importance that travel can have on shifting one's life direction. Taylor Conroy is a case in point. After an impactful experience in Kenya and Uganda, he changed his career path in a big way. Taylor has worked in real estate, as a firefighter and in a variety of other commercial pursuits, and after his trip he focused on creating Pocket Change Heroes, the newly launched website building schools around the world, using the power of social media.
Q: What inspired you to go to Kenya and Uganda in the first place, and why there?
A: I wanted to SEE where some money I had put aside for charity would be going, and decide for myself where it would go. I went to Uganda to check out a diary goat project that a friend of a friend had instituted. Kenya was to check out Free The Children's villages. Those were the options I had narrowed down to from North America.
Q: What are the specific issues you saw when you got there, and what surprised you?
A: You name it. Water, sanitation, lack of education, and the thing that surprised me the most... ZERO opportunity. In the West it is generally accepted that if you try hard enough, if you work hard enough, if you go for it long enough, you will make it. Or maybe I should say that the chance is there that you might "make it". What I saw in Uganda and Kenya was what we called the global lottery system. The people I met in the small villages in the Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda don't just have it hard. They have no choice, and in most cases, no way to make their life better. They have ZERO opportunity.
Q: What advice would you give to someone considering a volunteer trip or traveling outside of their comfort zone?
A: Stop considering it and book it. Period. Don’t wait for every single thing to line up. GO.
TAYLOR CONROY (@destroynormal): Taylor is the founder of 'Change Heroes' and 'Destroy Normal Consulting', which focus on innovative philanthropy and building projects like schools, wells, and libraries all over the developing world. His most recent efforts have seen schools funded in India, Nepal, Kenya, Sierra Leone, and Tanzania, impacting over 30,000 children. He has set foot on every continent, dozens of countries, and has worked as a professional fire fighter, real estate broker, and currently as an avid social entrepreneur.