This is just the beginning...
Have you ever dreamed of 'changing the world', but did not know where to begin?
Ever wondered about the stories of the real, everyday heroes of this world, who are really making a difference, and wondered how they got to do what they do?
Have you ever wanted to know about their life stories, their challenges, their choices?
Well, maybe I can help you.
On the 25th of May 2006, I am about to embark on a ten month journey around the world, interviewing 'the people who change our world', or social entrepreneurs, about their life stories.
I set out on my journey full of questions. I want to know who are these people pushing for social change? What is their vision? Why do they do it? How did they get to where they are? What inspires them, what frustrates, what challenges? I want to understand how these people come to do what they do, and in doing so, I want to share their stories with others who may be considering their own future life paths.
Why? There are so many reasons. Mainly because I believe their collective stories have the power to inspire other to act and because I believe that seeing social change in action can show that social change is possible. Society does not have to be the way it is. There are alternatives. There are people who have a vision for the way it should be and who are working to actualise it.
These are the stories I for one want to hear, and these are the stories I believe the world needs to hear.
The journey will bring me across five continents, meeting hundreds on people, travelling on trains, planes, buses, asking the questions, meeting the people. I have started my interviews in Ireland over the last few months, and come May, I'll be travelling to East Africa, to Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, and then travelling south, by train across the heartland of Africa until I reach Cape Town. I've been fortunate to have been able to travel to Kenya and Zambia on previous occasions, and from those visits, I already know that there will be juggle at play- a juggle between the image of a depraved, drought ridden continent whose images I grew up with, and between the Africa which I have experienced so far; full of complexities, poverty, wealth, humanity, laughter and hope.
From Africa it is then on to India, a land which to me is renowned not only for its ancient history and traditions, but also a land of enterprising people who, through collective will and effort, are bringing education, sanitation, technology and change to the continent. From there it is to South East Asia, to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, to meet people who are a tackling a huge range of issues; from child prostitution, to universal education.
It is on then to Australia and New Zealand, back into the so called 'developed world', to understand more fully what development is. I'll also take a journey to Tonga, a country I lived in ten years ago, to see how the island has changed. It is then on to the States, West, then East, a hub for social entrepreneurs, to meet people not only pushing for social change at a grassroots level, but people who are leveraging financial, philanthropic and alturistic measures to catalyse a 'tipping point' among society; tipping it towards supporting more and more people who are trying to effect change. And then 'home', to Ireland, hoping that T.S Eliot's words of wisdom will ring true;
'We must never cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time'.
This blog serves to document my experiences and encounters along the way. I'll be writing about the people I meet and places I visit, as well as posting some observations and photos.
I invite you to follow my journey online, and if you have any ideas or suggestions, or if you know of people I should meet along the way, please get in touch.
At the end of my travels, I'll be writing a book about the journey and profilling the people I meet. I'll also be following the journey with a tour around universities and colleges in Ireland, promoting the stories.
It is going to be some year, and may it just be the beginning of interesting choices and possibilities ahead, for all of us.
Enjoy the ride!