Konrad Waliszewski is the CEO and co-founder of TripScout*, a company that created an app for travelers. He’s also partnered with Restavek Freedom to help raise money to buy tablets for use in Haitian schools. We talked to Konrad about his background, what inspired him to mobilize his TripScout users to raise money for tablets, and what he’s learned throughout the process.
Restavek Freedom: Tell me a little bit about TripScout and your role within the company.
Konrad Waliszewski: The TripScout mobile app allows you to have a local and authentic self-guided city tour. Our local guides curate a list of sites for you and provide engaging audio guides on an offline map with GPS – so you can navigate around the city without using your data or international roaming plan. Explore cool neighborhoods, try local restaurants, sip the best coffee or cocktails, and see all the iconic sites while you learn about the local history, culture, and food as you go along. The TripScout app enables you to learn from and be entertained by a handpicked local, while having the flexibility to travel at your own schedule and pace.
RF: How did you learn about Restavek Freedom, and what made you want to get involved?
KW: We believe that travelers have a unique insight and connection to the world around them, and we want to use that for good. It’s our mission to leverage our travels and business to make the world a more awesome place for all. We donate a percentage of all revenues and have built a community passionate to help causes. After our last project to build a computer lab for a community in Honduras, someone in our community recommended Restavek Freedom as an organization we should check out. Having read Nicholas Kristof’s A Path Appears, I was familiar with the issue and started doing my homework on the organization. After getting to know Joan and hearing her describe the organization’s mission and actions, I knew this would be an organization we would want to support.
RF: Why did you decide that you wanted to raise money for tablets/schools? What do you hope the effects of the donation will be?
KW: It’s hard to imagine how we’d be able to work, study, or live life without access to the internet and computers. Not only is the internet an essential daily resource for us, it’s the best promoter of ideas, human rights, and education. I’ve seen the effects of access to connectivity throughout the developing world and knew that these tablets could help connect these kids to the world and all its information. I hope they use these tablets to learn, do homework, take Kahn Academy courses, and of course, be kids and play games in a positive environment. They’ll have the tools to learn anything they want and have a platform to dream bigger.
RF: How did you spread the word about your Go Fund Me campaign to raise money for Restavek Freedom, and what was the response like?
KW: We announced the Go Fund Me campaign to all TripScout users and the subscribers of my Go Konrad (@goKonrad) travel blog. We committed to match each donation dollar for dollar until the goal was reached. I was overwhelmed that it was fully funded in about 24 hours. It’s a testament to how much good can be done when the internet rallies behind a good cause.
RF: What do you think the world needs to know about children in restavek?
KW: All children are valuable and have infinite potential. To no fault of their own, they were born into a difficult situation. We have the opportunity – and responsibility – to help others as we would hope they would do for us if the situation was reversed. What I’ve realized through my travels to almost 100 countries is how much of my life is based purely on the circumstances of my birth. I was lucky to have won the birth lottery. 3 billion people (nearly half the world) live on less than $2.50 per day. 22,000 children die each day because of poverty. 1 in 3 people don’t have access to a toilet. 1 in 10 people don’t have access to clean water. 2 in 3 people don’t have access to the internet. 9 in 10 people live in countries without a free press. Over 60 million girls are forced into child marriages, and millions more are denied access to basic education and political participation. There are nearly 30 million people trapped in slavery. The world has the resources to solve this if we do so intelligently and generously. Supporting good organizations on the ground, like Restavek Freedom, is the best way to do that.