Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Irma Turtle and TurtleWill

Irma Turtle is founder and President of TurtleWill, her humanitarian organization devoted to helping remote tribal peoples retain their traditions and their dignity. She is also Director of Turtle Tours, an adventure travel company which specializes in introducing travelers to these remote populations and their unique ways of life.
Irma began Turtle Tours 19 years ago after a lengthy career in publishing and advertising in New York beginning in 1974. In 1981 Ogilvy and Mather, the multinational advertising agency with whom she was working, sent her to Brazil. After six months Irma was made President of the newly acquired agency. In 1984 she returned to New York and quit, feeling that it was time to find something more personally meaningful.
In early 1985 after a trip to the Sahara Desert and a glimpse into the unique lifestyles of nomadic peoples, Irma began Turtle Tours. She chose nomadic and tribal peoples as the focus of her company in tribute to their remarkably tenacity to survive into the 21st century with their traditions and cultures still intact. Irma is well recognized for her unique personal entree into tribal societies. Her love for her tribal friends is reciprocated wherever she goes.
TurtleWill, her humanitarian organization, devoted to helping remote tribal peoples retain their traditions and their dignity, took shape in the 90's. Using her expeditions and tribal contacts as a point of departure she was able to witness first hand the needs of these peoples and together with them work out what would be most helpful and needed.
Today TurtleWill's work includes digging wells, funding bush schools for nomadic children so they can attend school, bringing in mobile medical clinics to these peoples who would otherwise have no source for medical help, funding cooperatives that teach women skills and food cooperatives that help feed the remotest of nomads. She creates, organizes and runs all this, working directly with the people in Africa. All the money she raises goes direct to the people without any red tape or government interference. The TurtleWill overhead is under 10 %.
There is no one else helping the people TurtleWill works with. This explains the origin of the name. It answers the question "Who will help these people?" The answer: "Turtle will!"
Irma Turtle is featured, along with the Dalai Lama, in an international television series called "Nomads of the Human Condition".
TurtleWill has also been featured in the Barron's Weekly cover story on November 29, 2004 entitled "The New Giving". TurtleWill is referred to as "one of five nonprofits leading the charge...donors increasingly want to see their dollars at work...with TurtleWill you see the sewing machine being bought for the women's cooperative."

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