Philanthropy and Charitable Giving At Work : Room To Read

Aqua Expeditions Partners with Room to Read in Vietnam and Cambodia

Aqua Expeditions is extremely proud to announce our newest philanthropic adventure, a life-changing charitable giving partnership with Room to Read, a successful and internationally-recognized nonprofit organization focused on increasing global literacy and gender equality in education.


Founded in 2000, Room to Read, a U.S. based organization, collaborates with local communities, partner organizations and governments around the world to ensure that primary school children can become independent readers and girls can complete secondary school with the skills necessary to negotiate key life decisions.

Francesco Galli Zugaro, Founder and CEO of Aqua Expeditions describes his decision to choose Room to Read as a philanthropic partner:

Since launching Aqua Expeditions on the Peruvian Amazon nearly ten years ago, I have seen first hand the vital role of education in community healthcare and protection of the environment. Teaching people to read endows them with the skills to negotiate key life decisions and empowers them to conserve their most vital local resources. On the Amazon River, our Aqua Expeditions professional guides play an active role as educators in community healthcare, promoting clean water projects and in our cruise ships’ eco-system management. Our guests are vital to this success through their ongoing donations to our philanthropic programs at Aqua Expeditions.

When we set out to launch the Aqua Mekong, I began looking at how we could engage with the Mekong River communities in philanthropic and significant ways in Cambodia and Vietnam. I personally vetted several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to find the right match.

Meeting with Room to Read founder John Wood in Hong Kong recently, I was impressed to learn that Room to Read has been listed in Charity Navigator’s top 1 of rated charities in the US for 9 years among over 1.4 million non-profits rated by this charity watchdog. This metric and the organization’s impressive on the ground accomplishments, including over 15 million books distributed and 1,930 schools constructed since their inception, convinced me of the benefits associated with their program and should assure our Aqua Mekong guests that Room to Read donated funds go directly to the children and communities with whom they work in Cambodia and Vietnam.

I am convinced that our shared vision of change through education will make a meaningful impact on the Mekong, just as I am proud to say Aqua Expeditions has accomplished on the Amazon. And books are just the beginning. When John and I met, we agreed to think big together. Room to Read’s learning experts and the Aqua Mekong guides are laying the groundwork for a long-term partnership that can lead to great educational outcomes along our Aqua Mekong route.

Listen to John Wood describe this new partnership for charitable giving with Aqua Expeditions:

This exciting mission at Aqua Expeditions is already underway at the company, with Room to Read leaders training Aqua Mekong guides to provide our guests with an on board introduction to education programs along our route. These Literacy Programs give rural Khmer and Vietnamese youth the opportunity to develop the skills and habit of reading. This will allow them to become life-long, independent thinkers and change makers in their communities.

CambodiaKey to Room to Read’s impressive success in its first 15 years has been the publication of children’s books in the local language using local authors and illustrators. To kick start our exciting partnership, Room to Read has provided Aqua Expeditions with copies of Khmer and Vietnamese children’s books that have been published by their team. Guests will be invited at no cost to bring one with them to donate to a child in need when our Aqua Mekong guides take them into local communities.

Find out more about our Room to Read partnership and join our efforts by donating online to Room to Read and join our efforts or add a donation to your final payment on board when you travel with us.

Room to Read’s impressive accomplishments:

  • Impacting the lives of 10 million children both in Asia and Africa, including more than 204,000 in Vietnam and 156,500 in Cambodia
  • Distributing more than 15 million books across ten countries of operation
  • Improving the academic environments in government primary schools to facilitate increased literacy including the establishment of over 1,731 libraries in Cambodia and 862 in Vietnam
  • Training thousands of local teachers annually

Global Results (Dec 2015)

  • Schools Constructed 1,930
  • Libraries Established   17,534
  • Books Published 1,158
  • Books Distributed 15,641,734
  • Girls’ Education Participants 31,636

Learn more…

Girls education

Cambodia Results (Dec 2015)

  • Libraries established 1,731
  • Book titles published 178
  • School construction projects 64
  • Girls’ Education participants 6,159

Learn more…

Vietnam Results (Dec 2015)

  • Libraries established 862
  • Book titles published 90
  • School construction projects 120
  • Girls’ Education participants 3,863

Learn more…

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