Good Deeds Done by JourneyWoman Travellers

Last updated on April 6th, 2020

In a recent newsletter item, we asked Journeywoman readers to tell us about the good deeds that they’ve done on the road. As usual, we were encouraged by the responses we received. We heard about everything from volunteering at orphanages to helping little old ladies cross the street to saving a woman from her angry partner. While we couldn’t include every one of the submissions we received in this article, we send our kudos to each and every woman who helped someone in need somewhere around the world. I’m sure that once you read a sampling of the stories we received you’ll agree that JourneyWomen are truly a wonderful group of women with great big hearts!

I helped in an orphanage…
We were in Hoi An Vietnam for Vietnamese New Year and bought a ton of stuff to do complete pedicures (basins, clothes, nail polish, files etc…) and took it all to the teenage girls at the orphanage. We hung out and painted nails then left them all the supplies for them to enjoy. Hoi An Orphanage is at 104 Nguyen Trung To Street, Hoi An City, Quang Nam, Vietnam.
Shelly, Castlegar, Canada

I paid someone’s bus fare…
My story is not a monumental example of helping another but it somehow sticks in my mind. I was on a shuttle from JFK airport to Manhattan. It was evening and a lady boarded the bus. She was from Canada and tried to pay with Canadian currency but the bus driver would not accept it. She seemed distraught and it was late. I said, “let me pay your fare”. She was really grateful and asked me to write my address so she could repay me. It wasn’t much money and I didn’t really expect to hear from her again. However, several weeks later I received an envelope with a cashier’s check for the amount. It made me feel really great that she was kind enough to take the trouble to repay me. The funny part was the sum was so small; about ten dollars (and was in Canadian currency) that the bank would have charged me more to cash the check than the amount of the check. I held on to the envelope and check for years as a reminder that we should trust strangers sometimes but not expect anything in return for kindness. I always hoped someone else would do the same for me if I found myself in a similar situation.
Jamie, Phoenix, USA

I made people laugh at the airport…
I believe little actions make a difference. I was at an airport amongst a goodly number of people whose luggage did not come down the carousel. Of course, many people were very agitated and were taking their frustrations out on the poor person at the counter. All I did was step up and started to make light of the situation and started joking around and speaking to people and getting them to laugh. I do volunteer work at a local hospital as a care clown and find that laughter is a very effective tool to make people forget their troubles or make light of them. As they say, it wasn’t a major deed but it really did seem to diffuse what I thought was becoming a nasty situation.
Marion, Digby, Canada

I returned lost money…
Recently while on a trip to Toronto by train I was waiting for baggage at Union Station. I was people watching and noticed something drop from a young man’s pouch. I picked up his wad of money and ran frantically through the crowd to locate him. I was looking for the hat he had on and at first, didn’t recognize him as he had removed it. Then I noticed his clothing and the pouch around his waist which was open. He was so surprised when I approached him as he hadn’t even been aware he’d dropped his roll of bills and seemed to really appreciate having them returned.
Elaine, Saint John, Canada

I helped an injured woman at Obama’s inauguration…
While in Washington D.C. for the Inauguration I was walking around the blocks near the White House when I heard a man yelling, “somebody call 911!” I saw him and looked down to see a woman on the ground at his feet. I ran the half block and discovered the woman had tripped, fallen and hit the ground face first. She was bleeding from a huge cut at the bridge of her nose and was shaken up. I could hear someone else calling 911 so I grabbed the Kleenex I had in my pocket and immediately applied pressure to the wound. As I asked the woman if she hurt anywhere else, a man on the phone was yelling at us, “How old is she?” I know he was asking for the EMT’s but I blurted out, “Don’t you know you never ask a woman her age?” She laughed and said, “Merci.” We did find out she was 70 and that she wasn’t hurt anywhere else nor feeling faint. She did tell us she’d been looking at the buildings and simply tripped. She was embarrassed. She had on a faux fur stole and I kept the blood from getting on it and knew the ambulance was in route as I could hear the sirens. I retrieved her broken glasses and placed them carefully in the purse she had strapped across her chest. The EMT’s arrived and with a smile and a pat on the arm bid her “adieu.”
Claudia, Hollywood, USA

I helped two women with knee problems…
I stopped in a tiny village (they are all tiny!!) in Nepal and sat with two women who both had knee problems. I rubbed Arnica lotion on the painful parts and wrapped their knees with my ace bandages. I was gifted with huge smiles and hugs. My guide had told them I was a “doctor” when really, I’m more than that – I’m a nurse and I’m a healer!
Bonnie, Lake Oswego, USA

We towed a car in Germany…
In the Eighties, I lived with my family in West Berlin. At that time Berlin was divided and in order to travel from W. Berlin to W. Germany, one had to drive through East Germany. While driving the highway on New Year’s weekend, we saw a couple near a French car waving excitedly. We stopped and they asked if we spoke French. We did and they were thrilled. The car had broken down and there were in trouble. Since East Germany was difficult at any time, let alone on a holiday, we towed them to the border and translated for them at a garage. They were thankful and offered us their hospitality in Tours in the Loire Valley.
Thelma, Hamburg, Germany

I teach English to children in Vietnam…
At present, I am in HoiAn teaching English in a children’s home. I have been coming to Vietnam every winter for four years now and I either work in the Blue Dragon children’s home or help a friend at a Mentally challenged school in Quang Ngai. Three years ago I stayed in Quang Ngai for three months working in the government orphanage and teaching night school. I made friends with some of my students and now visit them every year. One year I went to Cusco, Peru to learn Spanish and also helped at a daycare for undernourished children.
Gaye, Newmarket, Canada

I helped women across the street in Paris…
While in Paris I came across two elderly women standing on the corner at a busy intersection. The shorter one was holding the taller one by the arm. The taller one was holding a white cane. Yes, both were blind and attempting to cross the street. Due to the heavy traffic, they were having trouble determining when the light was in their favour. I asked (in English, my only language and not knowing if they would understand me) if they would like some assistance. The taller one replied in English that they would. She took my arm and as we slowly crossed the street she asked where I was from, how I liked Paris and made other small talk. When were reached the other side they thanked me profusely and wished me a good trip. I watched them walk slowly down the sidewalk, then I went back across the street to continue my journey.
Pam, Seattle, USA

I gave my seat to an older woman in Greece…
I got the last seat on the bus from Naxos town up the mountain to the villages. It’s a “flag me down” bus that makes a circuit of the island. Sure enough, a mile or so up the road the bus stopped to let a woman on. She was very obviously senior to the other riders. The bus was jammed, aisles full, but no one offered her a seat. I stood up and motioned to offer her mine. I got off at the top of the run and didn’t think of her again. Hours later I flagged the bus to go back down to Naxos town and there she was, apparently delighted to see me. The seat next to her was vacant. She patted it and I sat. All the way down the mountain she told me stories. Too bad I don’t understand Greek!
Rachel, Austin, USA

I sent a bass guitar to Cuba
While on vacation in Cuba three years ago, my husband and I became friendly with the stand-up bass player who played regularly with his group at the hotel where we were staying. Before leaving to come back to Canada, they presented us with a hand-carved miniature stand-up bass. We gave each member of the group the remaining pesos we had; they were very grateful. When we got home, my husband went out and bought a bass guitar. An acquaintance of his, who works in Cuba for a Canadian company took it back to Cuba with him and surprised our musician friend with our gift. It felt good to give our friend something that he would never be able to afford on his own and he was overjoyed!
Janice, Cambridge, Canada 

I helped someone with car trouble…
My good deed was in Mexico. My daughter and I were travelling by car from California to the furthest tip of Baja, Cabo San Lucas. In the middle of the open desert, we came upon a young Canadian couple with a child who was also travelling and had car trouble. Their car just so happened to be the same make and model as our vehicle. It turned out their distributor cap had gone bad or become damaged from the rough roads. We had an extra with us (we are well prepared Journey Women) and had them back on the road within five minutes! There was no town or village for about 40 miles in any direction so it was a real lucky chance that we happened upon them at that exact time. We have performed many good deeds while travelling but that particular story is my favourite because it just seemed so strange that they had the same make and model car and that we just so happened to have an extra distributor cap. P.S. I just love your JW website and the wealth of knowledge it provides. It has been a treasure trove of information while planning trips. Thanks so much.
Dawnene, New Orleans, USA

I gave my phone card to a student…
When I was finished travelling through Costa Rica, I still had a ton of minutes left on my phone card. I met (online, through CouchSurfing) a woman who was about to move there for a year to study Spanish, and sent her the card from my next destination. It won’t win me a Nobel Peace Prize, but was a random act of kindness that this starving-artist-student definitely appreciated!
Sonia, Washington, USA

I raise money for Agent Orange victims in Viet Nam…
I visit Viet Nam most summers as I lead guided tours to Viet Nam. When I first went back to Viet Nam (I was there during the American war) I began to fundraise and visit “Rosy Jade” which is a rehabilitation centre dealing mostly with Agent Orange young people. Originally they taught and cared for 150 young people, now the center treats over 450 people. Another year I got acquainted with “The Friendship Village” which is a place that cares for children and veterans affected with Agent Orange. Each year I take my group there so they too can spread the word about helping these people. I also give presentations on behalf of the Village. The most fun is going to play with the children each year. I am also part of a fundraising group that builds comfort houses—small cinder block homes for the many widows left from the war.
Beth, Saskatoon, Canada

I distributed toys in Mexico…
While in Mexico (Puerto Vallarta area) I volunteered to help out with the Jan 6 (New Year’s Day) tradition of ex-pats who distribute toys and supplies to backcountry schools, etc. It was the best part of my time in Mexico. This group fund-raises all year to purchase supplies and toys and supports cleft-palette surgery and club-foot corrections. When we took off for our day-long trip to various villages I was astounded at the joyous welcome we received everywhere. I was also asked by a serious young boy who was manning a stall in the market to speak into his tape recorder so he would have my voice and pronunciation for his studies. Now my voice is helping him learn English long after I had left Mexico. This is another of those times when one is thankful to have the experience of being a visitor as opposed to being a tourist. Hope all new volunteers have as much fun as I have had.
Joan, Sechelt, Canada

I paid for a child’s medical treatment…
While on the way home from vacation I needed to stop at a local clinic to check my blood levels (I have a history of DVT-deep vein thrombosis). There was a woman ahead of me who did not have the funds to pay her co-pay to get treatment for her child. She asked the staff to bill her, but they refused. I placed the money in her hand and disappeared into the doctor’s office. I hoped I helped her a little that day.
Ursula, Atlanta, USA

I shared my water…
While hiking up to delicate arch in Arches National Park, we ran across a family that was on their way down from the top (2 1/2 miles), It was about 95 to 100 degrees. They were out of water and still had about a mile left to get to the bottom. We had four large jugs of water with us so we filled up their water jugs. That’s it… we just made the trek for them a little more comfortable.
Dana, Erie, USA

I gave away eyeglasses…
On a recent trip to South East Asia, I gave away around 10 pairs of reading glasses to older acquaintances. I had bought the glasses at the 99 cent store here in Long Beach. They all had the original price tag on them which was anywhere from $19.99 to $49.99!
Sunny, Long Beach, USA

I helped a seasick cabinmate…
I finally reached my goal of visiting all seven continents. My last two were South America and Antarctica. I made sure I had a patch behind each ear and a wristband on each wrist because I have only been seasick once in Thailand, and did not want to repeat that situation. My roommate was Chilean and stayed in bed most of the time we sailed. My Spanish is so-so but I brought her fruit and cookies, encouraging her to eat and drink. I also offered the bottom bunk to her since it seemed ideal for a rush to the bathroom, but she refused and seemed embarrassed. It was difficult to help her because she was quite lethargic. Once on solid ground (and my 7th continent), her smile returned, her sickness disappeared and we were able to take in our mesmerizing surroundings with glee.
Leslie, Arlington, USA

I helped another volunteer…
I have been on 5 volunteer vacations with Global Volunteers. Most recently, I was in Romania for three weeks working in a children’s clinic. One of the other volunteers, an 18-year-old student with a heart of gold and no travel experience, came on a scholarship and had very little spending money. The whole group wanted to go off sight-seeing for the weekend. Another volunteer and I paid for this young woman’s expenses so she wouldn’t be left behind. A grand time was had by all.
Elizabeth, Toronto, Canada

I donated supplies to a school…
My friend, Joyce and I, while travelling in Ollantaytambo, Peru, asked for a recommendation on a good place to eat. We were referred to “El Corazon” After eating the best-grilled cheese sandwiches on the face of the earth, we began chatting with the owner. She said the restaurant’s main goal is to teach nutrition to local families and that everyone who benefits from the restaurant also needs to contribute anything from splitting wood, preparing meals, visiting schools, etc. Well, the school supplies and art materials Joyce had packed found a home, high up in the Andes Mountains.
Melody, Oregon, USA

I helped with directions…
While visiting St. John’s Newfoundland, I helped a family from France who needed directions. They were struggling in English. I helped them in French and welcomed them to Canada.
Margaret, Montreal, Canada 

I helped someone who was robbed in Spain…
We have a Thursday night tapas reception in Madrid for all volunteers. After tapas, a few of us decided to take the metro to the center and continue our conversations. I know well that the Madrid metro is a place to be acutely aware of pickpockets however it was a first visit for one woman in our group. As she was standing and reading a guidebook her passport, Euros and credit cards were stolen from her fanny pack. I felt so sorry that I had not been watching for her safety more closely! I decided to take her to a nice hotel in the area as they surely had experience with a loss of passport and who to call to cancel her cards. It took a few hours to resolve, the Hotel Opera was extremely helpful. We waited by her side and chipped in Euros for her immediate needs and were happy to be of help.
Catherine, Olympia, USA 

I offered duct tape…
My Good Deed happened while standing in line at Tom Bradley International Airport on my way to Japan via Taiwan. It was late at night and very hectic. In front of me stood a Taiwanese family with lots of big bags and several little children. They definitely had their hands full. For no apparent reason, one of their suitcases broke and popped open. I offered a pencil wrapped with duct tape. I’ve carried this same pencil on many trips and have never had a reason to use it. There was plenty of tape to tape up their suitcase. We exchanged no words, just quiet smiles. It was a touching moment. I now have a new pencil wrapped with plenty of duct tape (as well as lots of dental floss) ready to help out the next fellow traveller.
Christina, Texas, USA

I was a nurse on a medical mission in Brazil…
I have just returned from a medical mission in Birigui, Brazil. We were there for 10 days performing surgeries on children from low-income families. The people were absolutely amazing… so friendly and hospitable. I’m a Registered Orthopaedic Technologist and work at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. A staff orthopedic surgeon, two ortho O.R. registered nurses and I took part in over a dozen surgeries, with the help of the local hospital staff. My role was to apply the casts following surgery. Some of these children were diagnosed over a year and a half ago and have been waiting all this time for their operation! The project is led by Dr. Fabio Ferri-de-Barros, a Brazilian physician with international training in Pediatric Orthopaedics, who currently works at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. P.S. Thank you so much for developing Journeywoman. I enjoy it so much and eagerly look forward to each issue.
Jean, Toronto, Canada

I helped three travellers find a place to stay…
Many years ago when I was travelling around Australia I was helped along the way by many people in a variety of different ways. Then one day after I’d landed in Hobart, Tasmania. a new friend came over to help me clean my kitchen and she said: “Don’t repay me for this – Pass it on!” So since then, I have, as often as I have the opportunity. Last month three Dutch travellers passed through Melbourne and I was able to put them in touch with my parents who live in South Australia where they were able to stay at my house there. They got to meet my folks and for two days they all had lots of fun together. If we all look out for each other and “Pass It On” then we all can have better times. I may live in Melbourne but I’m always on a “journey”!
Jennifer, Melbourne, Australia

I volunteered in Taipei and Johannesburg, South Africa…
I spent a month in Taipei. During that period I worked at a local orphanage with babies up to two years of age. Even though I don’t speak Chinese just holding, hugging and playing with them in addition to covering feeding periods was definitely worthwhile and gave the staff time and a little breathing space. It was most rewarding and one received immediate satisfaction.

Also, during one of my four trips to South Africa I volunteered at Unity College in Johannesburg. This facility caters to 125 children from the ages of 6-20 years of age who are intellectually challenged. I worked with youngsters diagnosed with Down Syndrome, Autism, and a number of other slow learners and the physically handicapped as well. Needless to say to this was most challenging but I loved every moment of being able to help. After being at the school every day from 7:30 am – 1:30 pm for five weeks it was difficult to leave. I did go back in January but only to visit for a day to see “my kids.” My heart broke to leave.
Marsha, Montreal, Canada

I gave food to a panhandler…
London, England: summer of 2008. I don’t give money to panhandlers, but if I have food, I’ll give that. I handed a sandwich to a guy with his hand out on Oxford Street at rush hour. I felt a tap on my shoulder and a young businesswoman asked me if I did that often. I said that if I had something with me then yes, I gave it. I had the feeling it made a distinct impression on her. I saw no one else acknowledge panhandlers in any way. I find myself wondering now if this woman has given something from her lunch to someone in need. Has someone else seen her and done the same? How many people on the crowded street that day saw that small act, and have since done the same thing? Our actions have more possible consequences than we can ever know.
Michelle, Edmonton, Canada

I help people find their way…
I don’t know what it is about my face but it seems I have the words ‘Information Booth’ printed on my forehead. No matter where I am in the world, people always stop me to ask directions. Lucky for me, they always ask about a spot I researched or just visited myself. I have faced a number of challenges in my numerous travels but it is this small act of kindness that makes me feel connected to my fellow travellers and the one that makes me happiest about my decision to travel even when certain obstacles would dictate that I do otherwise.
Pascale, Montreal, Canada

I saved a woman from her partner…
I saved a woman on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. She was being choked by her boyfriend. I was lying in the sand, squinting when I realized he was lying on top of her not to kiss her, but to choke her. I went over and started yelling and got a lifeguard, who did nothing. I spirited the woman away for a day and got her to call her mom back in Holland. The pair was a young couple on vacation and since he didn’t know English (she did), he was feeling more and more anxious and dependent on her and he flipped out. What a jerk. He just was terrifying. But she was nice. I was so relieved to have been there — the beach was sparsely populated, and the few guys around were taking the ‘not my business, mate’ attitude.
Avra, Sydney, Australia

Evelyn started Journeywoman in 1994, and unknowingly became the world's first female travel blogger. She inspired a sisterhood of women, a grassroots movement, to inspire women to travel safely and well, and to connect women travellers around the world. She passed away in 2019, but her legacy lives on.

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