October 28, 2014
Just one year after moving back to Toronto, Avi D’Souza is making a difference both to his community and to those worldwide through his work with Not Just Tourists.
An avid traveler, Toronto native Avi D’Souza has visited many destinations over the past seven years, actually settling in Honduras for four years where he owned and operated a tour company. While working in Honduras, he learned of an operation out of Canada whereby medical supplies are shipped to countries in need of them via tourists. After moving back to Toronto less than a year ago, Avi has already set up a Toronto Chapter, currently operating out of his garage, and is actively working with Not Just Tourists and his community.
“Not Just Tourists lets travelers bond with the places they travel,” explained Avi as he discussed his passion for this operation, which not only gives travelers a greater purpose when visiting their desired country, it also provides a use for Canada’s excess medical supplies. “There is an incredible amount of medical waste in Canada just because of lack of space,” pointed out Avi. “We collect the supplies to keep them out of the garbage.”
Not Just Tourists (NJT) began 25 years ago in St. Catharines, Ontario. Since its birth, thousands of suitcases have been sent to countries in need in the hands of tourists. Through word of mouth and strong advocates, NJT has flourished. After learning of this great initiative, Avi wanted to start his own chapter and found a mentor in Jack, from the Ottawa chapter, who helped him as he started up NJT Toronto. In no time, Avi was working full time out of his garage, packing thousands of supplies in suitcases to be shipped worldwide.
“We are able to obtain a lot of supplies in Toronto,” said Avi.
In fact, in just five months NJT Toronto has distributed suitcases (or in the case of Syria, skids of supplies) to Cuba, Honduras, Kenya, Congo and Syria. With the help of 20 volunteers, Avi and his team have sent over 1,500 pounds of supplies, including syringes, pads, IV kits, hearing aids and operating room supplies.
Avi personally puts in 60 hours per week of his own time, finding a great passion in the work he does.
“I always felt I wanted to do something meaningful with my life; this was a chance to do it,” reflected Avi. “This little thing could save so many lives.”
In fact, Avi explained that after the delivery is made to the medical facility in the destined country, a connection is made on the traveler’s side and the ball starts rolling. As Avi put it, “They see that they can.” What a simple but amazing concept!
While NJT is a simple idea, it can potentially touch the lives of thousands. Tourists travel to countries in need of supplies every day; through the work of Avi, the Toronto Chapter and the rest of the NJT crew, tourists have become a new channel for delivering supplies to those in need. It allows a vacation to serve a deeper purpose, and gives the individual delivering the suitcase a sense of accomplishment and heroism. It is a beautiful concept that gives the everyday person a new and unique way to spread their love.
For more information on Not Just Tourists Toronto or to learn how you can become a volunteer or deliver a suitcase of supplies, please visit Not Just Tourists Toronto at www.njttoronto.com.
Actions to Consider:
- Delivering a suitcase of supplies the next time you go on vacation
- Donating medical supplies to NJT Toronto
- Volunteering with NJT to help put together suitcases of supplies