Collette is a third generation, family-owned company and has been conducting tours since 1918. With offices in United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom, the company has gone from strength to strength and has a very strong philanthropic program. Collette Cares was established to support the communities in areas where Collette tours travel, and aims to fund specific needs in those communities that the company can assist with. Its mission is to enrich the lives of children worldwide, one project at a time. Currently, it has projects under way around the world – from China and Kenya to America and Australia, with well over US$7million raised so far.
Dan Sullivan, President and CEO of Collette, has over 35 years in the travel industry. The Collette Foundation was started when Dan visited Peru in 2006 and spent time in a small village, where the children were under nourished, and the school lacked even the most basic supplies. When he returned home he launched the Foundation that would change the lives of children around the world.
And it’s not only the company that helps; all employees of Collette are encouraged to work on either a company project or volunteer for another charity of their choice, and the company pays for four hours of their time a month working on that charity.
Dan said “Last year 900 Collette employees donated over 4,000 hours working with charities. Our whole culture is to give back and help and 100 per cent of money raised goes direct to the children that need it.”
Dan is involved in all the projects, saying “There are so many highlights for me. We built that first orphanage in Cusco, Peru and another in Chichuahua, Mexico and provide uniforms for the girls so they could go to school. We built a school in Nairobi run by a wonderful lady Mama Maria, and have built other schools in South Africa and in Cambodia, where we support the Jaywoc school. Even our guests on tours to these areas are moved to help. One lady from Canada visited the Cusco orphanage on one of our tours and when she went home, she organised a group of friends and they made quilts for every child in the orphanage. Other guests fundraise for projects they see on tours.”
“We have also launched our first Global Flagship Project with the aim being to make a deeper impact in one place. The first destination was Ecaudor, where over 27 per cent of the population lives below the poverty line. We are working with the Phelan-Emmett Community center in La Lucha, to launch a nutritional clinic and other programs which will help so many children.
Collette has a project in Australia and Dan is right behind it. “We support the Drum Atweme program in Alice Springs run by Peter Lowson since the ‘90’s. It is an indigenous drumming group made up of disadvantaged young women from town camps around the town. To be in the group the girls must stay in school. There are about 30 core performers in the group and another 100 are taking drumming lessons every week. This builds the girls’ confidence and helps the community – several girls have gone on to further education in Adelaide. We are so proud of Drum Atweme – they perform around Australia and are always well received”