On Bree Medlock's mission trip to Honduras she spent the first week around a table teaching locals about discipleship, and the second week hiking a mountain and sleeping on the floors of a school in the village with the bugs and dirt.
“The reason we were in the village was to love on people and encourage them,” said Bree Medlock, student at the University of Memphis.
Medlock went to Honduras with an independent team, but worked with an established ministry that continued the work after the team left.
“That second week was really difficult, but I’m glad I went," said Medlock. "I think everyone should experience a mission trip because it teaches you so much about yourself, other people and about God.”
In many ways Medlocks experiences reflect both the benefits and drawbacks of short term mission trips by young people around the world.
Fifty years ago, young people typically joined the Peace Corps for a few years, but now high school and college students are jumping on a plane to Africa or South America for as little as one week.
While the trips routinely benefit participants by exposing them to global challenges of poverty and education, some experts question the benefit of short term mission trips.
The Whole Planet Foundation allows customers to impact the lives of people in poverty by simply buying a calendar for $4.
Whole Planet Foundation is a nonprofit founded in 2005 and supported by Whole Foods Market that provides microcredit loans to people in 57 countries, allowing them to open their own home-based businesses.
“It is a way for us as a company and for our customers to give in a way that really does provide a way out of poverty instead of just giving a handout,” said Minnie Horton, front end supervisor at Whole Foods on Poplar.
This month, for the third year in a row, each Whole Foods Market is selling calendars featuring pictures of the families who are supported with $44 worth coupons inside.
Some of the coupons include $2 off Kashi Go Lean Cereal, $1 off Clif Kit’s organic bar, $5 off Garden of Life vitamin code multivitamins, and $2 off Seventh Generation laundry detergent.
Since Whole Planet Foundation is supported by Whole Foods, 100 percent of donations go directly to the foundation.
Whole foods began with 200 calendars and are already working on ordering more.
“The customer response has been great. We just started selling calendars this month and are already close to selling out,” said Horton.
In addition to the calendars, customers can buy items from the entrepreneurs at Whole Foods Stores, or download 17 songs that have been donated by artists for only $5.
Find out about everything humanitarian in Memphis with Humanitarian Heart. Read stories, find out about nonprofits, and learn simple ways that you can make a difference. Every Wednesday until November 13, there will be a short post featuring a simple way that for you to be a humanitarian in Memphis.