Determined to live a life that matters, Ken Budd volunteered around the world, from Asia to Africa and South America, a story he tells in his moving new memoir, The Voluntourist—A Six-Country Tale of Love, Loss, Fatherhood, Fate, and Singing
Bon Jovi in Bethlehem.
Ken’s journey began in 2005: He was questioning the direction of his life—his 40th birthday was looming, he and his wife were childless—when his father died suddenly from a heart attack. As grieving friends revealed how Ken’s dad had changed their lives, Ken wondered: What will people say when I’m gone? What is my purpose? And then, unexpectedly, he volunteered in New Orleans nine months after Hurricane Katrina. Three months later he taught English at a rural elementary school in Costa Rica. After that, Ken helped teachers at a special needs school in China, collected data for climate change researchers in the remote Andes mountains of Ecuador, assisted refugees in Palestine, and cared for orphans at a children’s home in Kenya.
Publishers Weekly calls The Voluntourist a “sincere and subtly written memoir,” and Library Journal wrote: “This is an extremely funny book… One of the best-written travel memoirs this reviewer has read in a long time.”
Ken is donating his earnings from the book to the organizations and places where he volunteered. He and his wife live in Burke, Virginia, outside of Washington, D.C.