Social media highlights the suffering of humanity and it’s streamed directly into our hands and homes. More than ever, as we chomp through breakfast or commute to work we understand that others are experiencing real poverty, suffering in refugee camps or cowering in war zones. We feel a complete loss how to effectively help. We can support international charities but is it making an impact and how would we know? Travelling through Nepal, photographer and producer Johannes shares what he sees, opening up to explain how he learns so much of life’s true meaning through very unlikely teachers.
Encouragingly, German-born Johannes is witnessing great results from international organisations such as UNICEF. With his camera, travelling Vietnam, Nepal, China, Tibet & Lhasa during 2017 he sees into the hearts of people, his solo travel has shown him richness and generosity of people in the face of extreme poverty. “These international organisations are doing a great job, they are a helpful solution for Western people unable to travel to assist with education, sustainable tourism, organic farming or work protecting fauna or flora. Johannes is cheered and inspired to observe an abundance of Westerners doing astonishing local work in these poor areas as well.
Sadly, just as many magnificent cultures are now extinct, it’s tragic Tibetan culture makes the 2017 Culturally Endangered list , “Tibet and Lhasa is incredible in terms of the change that is going on and even though the culture is slowly fading, it’s mesmerising. I love the mountains and big open spaces, Tibet has all of that but with the current political situation individual travel is now impossible and expensive”.
Nepal, still accessible to tourists is still valued for its uniqueness “Nepal is everything I love in a country, not so westernised, amazing network of trails, high mountains, all the climate zones, diverse and friendly people and good English spoken making for great conversation”.
The brilliance of an entire region is the cultural diversity within a very small geographic space. It’s something locals pride themselves in through their food, dialect, dress and customs world-wide. Johannes observed “The characteristics of people and their lifestyle changes so quickly within a country, sometimes after a 1 hour bus ride”.
Life, so precious and fleeting can feel more like a gift in areas or times of great instability, particularly when people still smile, offer hospitality, genuine warmth, trust and love. “ I appreciate life more every day I travel. The colour of nature, a smile, the sun, being healthy, having food and all the normal things of life. I try to give each person the same attention, listen more, put myself in their shoes, assume the best, be positive with whatever I do, live more simply, buy less, buy local, seasonal and sustainable wherever possible and use less plastic. I get reminded of these basics on this trip”.
Johannes recommends spending a few months utilizing your Westernised skills in a project close here if it’s close to your your heart and you can spare a few weeks or months, “you will add such a personal dimension, it’s key to transforming our society from I to We and now is the time to change”.
Sadly, Johannes is witnessing Western consumer culture transforming fragile ecosystems to the point of collapse in these areas too, he urges people to choose more sustainable personal lives, reducing our carbon footprint, using less energy and more public transport, “Altering your lifestyle more sustainably is easier than ever now, amazing sustainable products and services are a click away, information on everything is readily available online. Learn, learn, learn because knowledge is power”.
“The time to point fingers at world or country leaders is over, every single person is responsible for the future of our planet and the time to act is now. It’s your choice”.
“Travelling helps me realise we are all connected. Things we do on one side of the planet will impact the other side, the way we treat each other spreads from person to person. Showing compassion and respect has to become our daily norm”.
Johannes plans to document traditional and sustainable lifestyles on his a trip from Germany to Mongolia early 2018 to find techniques Westerners can integrate easily into lifestyles to promote more sustainable living. He will use photography and short films, you can follow his adventures on social media and help spread the global message. His journey will be entertaining and engaging as he will combine his skills and passions as a trail runner, paraglider and downhill longboarder.
You can ‘do your bit’ when shopping by supporting a growing number of we-commerce solutions, such as Nui Collective, using sustainable shopping bags, buying fair trade where possible from World Vision or many other charities making a difference.