This Latina Was So Impacted By Women Struggling Around The World, She Started A Non-Profit To Help
Loren Medina is a globetrotter with a mission. The Cuban-American humanitarian has spent much of her time traveling the last three years helping people in each country she visits. Whether it be a young girl freed from sex trafficking or a Syrian refugees in Jordan, Medina is determined to help and inspire others to do the same. Medina spoke with mitú about her non-profit Travel With Purpose and the inspiration for what she calls her passion project.
Meet Loren Medina, who founded the nonprofit Travel With Purpose after learning about young women who are victims of sex trafficking.Travel With Purpose / Facebook
Medina was inspired to create her nonprofit after watching a documentary on sex trafficking, reading the book “Half The Sky” by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, and traveling to Cambodia and the Philippines, where she worked with 107 sex trafficking all under the age of 17.
“I made the commitment at that moment that I would never travel without a purpose,” Medina says. “I would have a nonprofit and I would dedicate the rest of my life to doing this. It’s a passion project.”
Medina, whose works full time in PR and as a professor at USC, understands that not everyone can or wants to spend their vacation time volunteering. However, there are little things people can do when traveling to areas in crisis.Travel With Purpose / Facebook
“If you’re going to go to a place like Haiti for vacation, why not take two suitcases full of supplies that a local orphanage or a local school close to the place where you’re staying may need?,” Medina says. “Why not just contribute while you’re there? That’s what traveling with a purpose means to me.”
As for places like Cuba, Medina recommends foregoing a hotel and eating at tourist restaurants since the Cuban government gets 50 percent of those earnings. Instead, she suggests booking a place to stay via AirBnB and eating at paladares, which are family-run restaurants located in people’s home, because both significantly benefit owners financially.
Through her work, Medina has met women and girls that continue to inspire her to help those in need.Travel With Purpose / Facebook
She recalls meeting one 12-year-old girl who had endured substantial abuse. The girl had severe scarring on all over her body and was missing most of her teeth.
“She didn’t speak English, but she was really funny,” says Medina.
When it came time to leave, the little girl begged Medina not to go.
“I still cant talk about this without crying,” she says. “We hugged for, like, 45 minutes and we were both hysterical.”
That moment made a huge impact on Medina, solidifying the importance of preventing other girls from facing the same injustices and abuses.
“How can I not doing anything to prevent any girl from going through this?,” she says. “That pretty much changed everything for me.”
Even though Medina has impacted many lives through her nonprofit, she still looks back at her trip to Cambodia and the Philippines as the moment she realized this work is bigger than herself.Travel With Purpose / Facebook
Medina recalls a moment when her non-profit was opening another shelter for women and girls in need. People from around the U.S. who had helped raise money for the shelter were there for the opening.
“Seeing those girls, and crying when they were saying bye to us, and [seeing] how thankful they were,” says Medina. “Just experiencing those emotions and knowing that they were [once] alone in the world. Had it not been for these organizations, they could have been dead or sold or who knows what.”
Even though Medina runs Travel With Purpose mostly on her own, she wants to grow her passion project into something more interactive.Travel With Purpose / Facebook
She envisions Travel With Purpose growing into an organization that offers guidance on humanitarian travel. Rather than setting up campaigns, Medina wants the non-profit to become a place where people can set up their own campaigns and get the funding necessary to complete their goals.
“I would love to position Travel with Purpose to be a liaison with different organizations,” Medina says.Courtesy of Loren Medina
This way people can visit her site, find different humanitarian campaigns and contribute to the ones that resonate with them. If they can’t volunteer, they’d still be able to donate and help raise funds for those same causes.
As for now, Medina is trying to start an ambassador program so she can speak with students about different issues and get them involved.Courtesy of Loren Medina
What would be your passion project? Let us know.
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