The power of social networks? We think it’s about fostering relationships between people around the world. With that in mind, our family—me, my wife Estelle and Héloïse (eight)—recently started an innovative, charitable world tour chronicled on Facebook. It’s called “We Like The World.” A bit like Phileas Fogg, who did his round-the-world trip in 80 days, our challenge is a round-the-world trip with 80,000 friends—Facebook friends. It’s also to raise money to build a school in Burkina Faso, West Africa, where most kids can’t afford to go to school.
It’s like this: during our travels across the globe, every time a Facebook or “real time” friends hosts us, we donate $50 to the “We Like the World” African school project. In addition, for each person who friends us on Facebook, our family gives $1 to the school.
We began our epic journey in July 2011, leaving our home in Paris and heading eventually toward Burkina Faso. Our goal is that, by the end of the adventure in June 2012, the school will be built and equipped, and all the children of the Cissé Yargo village will be able to attend. This project will especially help more girls get an education. Research from major, non-governmental organisations has shown that—of all the causes needing attention in developing countries—the best return on investment is projects that educate girls. For example, children of women with five years of primary education are 40 percent less likely to die before the age of five.
In my role as co-founder of Fullsix, a leading digital market group based in Europe, I’ve long appreciated Facebook’s ability to inspire people to act. After three months of travelling, we now have 6,500 Facebook fans. Friends have hosted 75% of our stays and have donated 26% of our project target: 100,000 Euros. The school walls are rising.
For a much-needed family “vacation” from the tour, for the three of us to reconnect and relax, we are heading soon to Bora Bora, Tahiti, where Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora will host us. During this stay, our family will donate $250 per night hosted to the project.
You, too, can help. Follow us on Facebook, make a donation or offer to host us on our journey. Next up: New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, China, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, India, Turkey and Burkina Faso.
In the end of the Jules Verne book, Phineas Fogg wins his wager, succeeding in circumnavigating the globe by steamer and rail, in just 80 days. We are betting that with the support of our 80,000 friends, we’ll get this school in Africa built.
This is the first in a multi-part series.
A French native, Frédéric Colas has travelled to 50-plus countries on five continents. Fred created the Digital Marketing Department for Procter & Gamble in 1996 and in 1999 was named one of 12 Global Media Mavens by Advertising Age. In 2000, Fred co-founded Fullsix, a Europe-based leading digital marketing group. An art lover and advertising exec since 1991, Estelle worked for most of her career for the Havas Group. She is currently Global Brand Director at BETC Euro RSCG in Paris. She wants to make a difference in her life, for her family and for others. The couple lives in Paris with their eight-year-old daughter Héloïse.
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