Sitting on a beach in Gabon, West Africa Mike and I started a conversation that would change our lives forever. Both of us were working in Gabon with the Wildlife Conservation society in Mayumba National Park. It was a remote and fantastically exiting area, a proving ground where we would learn Working with the local eco guards started to change the way we looked at conservation. What they were doing was hard and difficult and often done without much pay- but they were exited and loved their work and did it without grumbling. In fact instead of becoming disillusioned they were bursting with pride and exuberance in their natural world. Conservation can be an incredibly depressing environment to work in, but here were people that were thriving instead of being in a constant state of woe.
Would there be other people around the world that would be just as exited about marine conservation and exited to do this often very challenging work? The mission decided on was to go and discover people and projects from around the globe that were making a difference in marine conservation despite the desperate situation the marine world is in, find them and film their stories.
We initially thought this would just be a short jaunt up the west coast of Africa, but when we really started to think about it, how could we talk only about one coastline and the people and projects on it, when there is a whole world out there to document? So the map got bigger, and so did our target. We were going to basically drive from Cape Town to Japan, and back, through 42 countries over the continents of Africa,Europe, Asia and Arabia with the help of our amazing vehicle nicknamed ‘Jhonny.’
For two years we documented in video and photos the inspirational stories of people who are doing things right, something, which is often overlooked. The road ,train, plane and every other transport we had to use was not easy, and we went through one learning curb after the next. You can try and prepare yourself for as much as possible, but in the end you will never be fully prepared for certain things. It was a massively ambitious idea, and I think when we told people we were going to drive from Cape Town to Japan and back, most thought we were joking. We struggled to get sponsorship, knocking on over 300 doors, but our passion and determination carried us through and eventually after 290 no's we got 9 yes! enough to get us going.
We are optimistic about the potential for the African continent. We have everything we need right here to make this continent a leading power in the world. We have resources, we have pristine environments and from this expedition we realised that we have the people who are more than willing to do the work needed to improve everyone’s lives – all we are lacking is the political drive. It’s so empowering to meet people who have almost next to nothing, who are willing to give their all to make a difference for their communities, often at great personal expense to themselves. If our leaders could take a page out of the people and projects that we have met along the way ,we would be unstoppable.
In the words of Haider El Ali, head of Oceanium Senegal , words that we have now adopted
“We humans are the problem, but we are also the solution.”
The footage from the expedition is currently in post production phase and we will be releasing a short film soon. Keep up to date by joining out mail list or following us on facebook or twitter.