Stepping out of Springfield and into Swaziland

Stepping out of Springfield and into Swaziland

Have you ever thought about how you might make an impact overseas and change someone’s life for the better by stepping out of Central Illinois?

Annie Elble Todt is the founder and executive director of Give Hope, Fight Poverty (GHFP) a 501c3 nonprofit organization with the mission to foster philanthropy at home by creating service-learning programs that engage US students and professionals with rural communities in Swaziland, Africa and work together to educate, empower, and lift orphaned and vulnerable children – particularly those living in child-headed households – out of poverty. Here she talks to us about the easiest way to make a difference abroad in the hope that we all might consider the impact we can make on the life of another person, or better still a child, in need. 

Travel with a trusted nonprofit organization that has experience designing service-oriented expeditions and who is directly working on the ground at your destination.  
This is usually the easiest way to avoid pitfalls and know that your efforts are actually fruitful. If you are a doctor, nurse, or pharmacist, there are organizations like Timmy Global Health ( offering seven-to-10 day service trips to Ecuador, Guatemala, or the Dominican Republic where you will not only provide life-changing care to those who would otherwise go without treatment, but you can also white water raft, hike a volcano, and much more.

What if you aren't a medical professional? There are also organizations, like mine - Give Hope, Fight Poverty (, that welcome people of any background and any level of experience. On our-10 day trips to Swaziland, Africa we engage in program implementation at schools, clinics, and child-headed homes alleviating burdens and providing opportunities for children orphaned by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Along with the service aspect of the trip, we also offer opportunities to engage in local song and dance, go on a safari adventure, and spend time playing with the children.

It is important to be open with the proportion of service versus adventure you would like to experience when using an organization such as Give Hope, Fight Poverty and participating in a service-oriented travel expedition. However, many organizations can be somewhat flexible to ensure that both you and the local community have the best outcomes possible.

If you would prefer to design your own experience, even if you are just traveling a short time to a domestic destination, there are always ways to help while you are there. For example, you can spend a day picking up trash along the beach (plus you get to enjoy the sun while you're at it) or host a donation drive for an organization at your destination and deliver the needed resources upon arrival. 

If you do choose to do a donation drive, be cautious of the space the items will consume – make sure you have enough space in your luggage or car. Also, it is very important to inquire about the particular items of interest for the non-profit prior to organizing the donation drive to make sure that your items will be needed and used. 

Consider making your next journey more than a personal experience – use it to change the world. 
For more information about Give Hope, Fight Poverty, and the opportunities available to get involved, visit or email