World Kids Voyage: delivering hope

By Sarah King
Amalgamated Academy
Bay Roberts, Newfoundland

Captain Eric Blackburn and his 30-foot sailboat have been travelling the world, looking for places that need the hope and support of people in North America.

Blackburn has been delivering "Friendship Boxes" to children in developing countries. Inside each box, there are basic school supplies and friendship letters. The boxes are put together by school-age students throughout Canada and the United States. Hopes are that the school child and the recipient will maintain a long-lasting relationship.

The project began as Canadian Kids Care. However, the large international participation led to the more global name of World Kids Voyage. Word of World Kids Voyage spread across British Columbia and down the west coast of the United States. The computer company, IBM, donated a Think Pad laptop and the web site ( was born.


The sailboat Chickadee sailed out of Vancouver in the December, 1995, loaded to the rafters with "Friendship Boxes". Winter storms off the coast of Washington and Oregon pummelled the small boat all the way down the coast. Once more the little ship was delayed on her voyage south.

When winter let up, the Chickadee continued on towards Mexico eager to begin delivery of the first Friendship Boxes before Christmas. The first Friendship Boxes were delivered to "Olive Tree Children's Home" in Ensenada, Mexico on December 23, 1996. Two days before Christmas, the little ship that could...did!

As more and more schools became involved, the Chickadee delivered more and more Friendship Boxes. Blackburn has visited the West Coast of the United States, Washington, Oregon, and California. He has visited schools throughout Mexico, the Sea of Cortez, Colima, Lago de Chapela and Ziahuantenago, Rio Dulce of Guatemala and islands in the Gulfo De Fonseca of El Salvador.

The World Kids Voyage team has spent a great deal of time working with projects in Nicaragua.
Sights are set for departing Nicaragua in mid-February for points south towards Peru in South America. On this passage, the Chickadee and World Kids Voyage will likely visit Costa Rica, Panama and Ecuador .

"We expect to be in Peru by the summer. From Peru, the goal is to navigate west across the South Pacific via Pitcairn Island, Cook Islands, Tonga, Australia and eventually China. From Southeast Asia, we will continue west across the Indian Ocean to Madagascar and Africa," says Blackburn.

Once in the Atlantic, Chickadee shall put into St Helena and the Ascension Islands en route to Brazil. From the East Coast of South America, sights will be set for points north to the East Coast of the USA and Canada before jumping across the North Atlantic to Europe. Eventually, Chickadee will return back to Vancouver by way of Cape Horn! These are big plans for one man, a 30- foot sailboat and his cat Diesel.

When asked why he started World Kids Voyage, Blackburn simply replied "For the love of life and a thousand rainbows." He hopes to send a little bit of happiness to less fortunate children all
over the world.

This year, as we approach the Holiday season, please keep in mind those who are less fortunate and those lives we can help.