They built a greenhouse in the earthquake affected areas of Nepal, school classes in Cambodia and Vietnam and a well in Sudan, which gave access to clean water for thousands of residents.
But they didn’t stop there. They also built a library and a playground in Kenya and painted a clinic in Tanzania.
His name is Elpis, which in Greek means ‘hope’. Her name is Dora, which in Greek means ‘to give’. Not accidental, in my opinion. Their paths crossed a few years ago, when they were students in Athens, at the Athens University of Economics and Business. They met and they decided to follow a different road. Together they have chosen a life path that gives hope to people who have every reason to feel devoid of it.
Elpis Chrisovergis and Dora Bitsi are the founders of ‘Dream. Travel. Live’ and ‘Wheeling2help’. They travel all over the world and offer voluntary work, with money they gather through crowdfunding.
Right now, they are in Nepal with 35 people who share in the hope to contribute to the reconstruction of a village. It’s worth mentioning that they are going to organise similar projects in Tanzania, Kenya and Zambia in December.
How did ‘Dream. Travel. Live’ start?
The travel bug was in them since they were very young. The six month work practice of Elpis in India, however, was the motivation he needed. Everything changed since them. He decided to leave behind the university road and began, along with his partner, Dora, to travel. Their moto? Dream. Travel. Live. Eventually, they realised that they wanted to go further. Their travels should have the element of volunteering. So, they created the platform ‘Wheeling2help’, an initiative with the aim to inspire people into the philosophy of volunteerism.
The young pair talk to Greek City Times about their life mission, the actions that have realised until now, the way they live while travelling, their future plans and of course, they narrate their biggest experiences.
“The first time we were actually involved in volunteering was when we helped in the construction of a child protection center in Khayelitsha, South Africa,” Elpis explains. “Mama was taking care of abandoned children, kids she even found among the garbage. This touched us so much and since then, we wanted to contribute wherever we can.”
During their stay in Africa, they travelled from Cape Town to Cairo with local transport. They gathered approximately 20.000 dollars through crowdfunding campaigns and they built orphanages in South Africa and Ethopia, they painted and filled with necessary equipment a clinic in Tanzania and they built a classroom, a playground and a library in Kenya, besides the well in Sudan.
From Africa to Asia
After a six month trip in Africa, Elpis and Dora decided to cross Asia, from New Delhi to China. “We explored 11 countries and we experienced deeply the Asian culture. Seductive landscapes, magnificent temples, exotic markets, traditional dances and unique people made this trip special and truly unforgettable,” admits Elpis.
They also made a documentary of the trips: ‘AfriQuest: Crossing Africa and offering 3,000 smiles’ and ‘AsiaQuest: Travelling East. Our destination? Human beings’.
Their mission was, as always, to help local communities in need. The founders of ‘Dream. Travel. Live’ gathered money from online campaigns and managed to build a greenhouse in the earthquake-affected areas of Nepal and classrooms in Cambodia and Vietnam.
“In fact, in Vietnam, we had an open call via facebook and 13 friends from Greece responded. They met us in a village in northern Vietnam and we built, all together, the classroom. A strong experience!”
Asia or Africa?
“It’s like you are asking me which one of my children I love the most!” says Elpis, with a smile on his face. “Every corner on this planet is unique and has its own colors. But, I must admit that there is something really special about Africa. I don’t know. It has something pure, primitive, unexplored, which captures you.”
But how do they manage to cope with everything financially?
Elpis and Dora clarify that they never entangle the online campaigns with their personal expenses. “We work in any job we find while travelling, we save money and cover our expenses. One thing is for sure. We forget all luxuries and amenities. Our daily budget is no more than 10 euros and we always bring with us tent and kitchen necessities.”
How is life with locals? They meet so many people, from all over the world, from different cultures, beliefs, backgrounds. How is the interaction with them?
“Well, moments we spend with children, with local families, mean the world to us. We eat together, we play together, we learn their way of thinking and often we communicate through body language. These were and are huge lessons for us, life changing experiences. Yes, there are differences. But we learned that there is no right or wrong, there is only different. From that ‘different’ you learn many things, it broadens your horizons.”
Their most memorable moments?
The two young Greeks meet many locals every day, who offer them food and accommodation. People treat them like they are family. “The strongest moment, though, which I will never forget, is the look of the village chief in Sudan, when we built the well and the taps opened. He realised there was no longer need for a three hour walk under the hot sun in order to bring clean water. He looked at us with this huge smile of satisfaction. We didn’t speak the same language, but we communicated,” says Elpis.
“I think there is nothing more beautiful than to travel. To get to know people and cultures, that makes each trip special. And when this is combined with offering to the unprivileged, trying to make this world a little better and fair, then I think you reach the ideal.”
Elpis and Dora try to describe these feelings, the feelings of volunteering, but they cannot. “It’s difficult for us to do that, we cannot put them in ‘boxes.’ These are feelings you understand only when you actually experience similar situations.”
“It’s actually a journey from ‘me’ to ‘us.’ A journey that we shall all take. This is our philosophy and our belief.”
How can people contribute?
“Everytime we want to create a project, we organise online crowdfunding campaigns. When someone wants to contribute and support us, they can do it through these campaigns. All money goes towards the specific project.”
Their next steps include more interactive trips. They aim to organise trips to places they have already visited and they know the local needs. Furthermore, they are aware of which health and safety measures to take.
Also, in June 16th until the 18th, Elpis and Dora are participating in Greece the first Pan-Hellenic Travel Festival, the ‘Raches Travel Festival’, in Raches of Fthiotida.
You can enjoy the experiences of the two young Greeks through their two documentaries, ‘AfriQuest: Crossing Africa and offering 3,000 smiles’ and ‘AsiaQuest: Travelling East. Our destination? Human beings’.
Follow them in their endless journey!
A journey of living and offering. It’s totally worth it!