Blog Full List

November update

There are plenty of exciting things happening right now with 'Sisters for Sale'. It's too soon to announce the news I'm most excited about, but there's still plenty to share with you today! Reaching out Though I can't legally disclose any details yet, I've recently...

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October update

I have plenty of great news to share with you today - an upcoming film festival this week in South Korea, and some fantastic news and photos from last week's festival in Malaysia and an independent screening in Canada! This week's festival in South Korea Our feature...

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September update

I've been quiet over here lately - it's been an extremely productive time spent working on the 'Sisters for Sale' book, and I'm delighted with the way it's all been coming together. Today I have some news for you about both the documentary and the book. 'Sisters for...

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Community screenings #2

In recent months we've had a series of sucessful independent screenings of our award-winning documentary, 'Sisters for Sale'.   These independent screenings help supporters share this incredible story with their own communities, help raise awareness of human...

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Community screenings

With my attention now focused on expanding 'Sisters for Sale' as a book, we're not currently hosting any of our own screenings of the 'Sisters for Sale' documentary. We are, however, allowing supporters to host screenings amongst their own communities, and several...

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Back to work

Our 2019 fundraising campaign ended last week. While not as successful as our phenomenal 2016 campaign, we surpassed the amount raised in our 2014 campaign, when we had dozens of bloggers working to promote our cause. We now have enough funding to continue our work...

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Wow

WOW. Less than 24 hours ago, we'd raised $6,833 through our 2019 fundraising page. Now, that figure has nearly doubled to $12,091 - and most of that came from just one person! I'd like to give a HUGE THANK YOU to Richard Joynes for supporting our ongoing fight against...

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Your last chance

This is the last weekend of our 2019 fundraising campaign. In terms of raising awareness, the campaign has been a great success, with an estimated reach of more than a million people.  In terms of raising funds, the campaign has been less successful. Our strategy was...

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Teamwork

Three years ago, I wrote a blog post which is now more relevant than ever. Here's what it said: "In recent years, we’ve seen the rise of a new Internet-based form of political activism: it’s been dubbed slacktivism. Slacktivism is when we show our support for...

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Episode Zero

Today I have something special I'd like to share with you. 2.5 years ago, I was contacted by Claire Harris, an award-winning investigative journalist with the BBC. Claire had heard our story and was interested to help develop 'Sisters for Sale' as a 10-episode...

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Why we do what we do

It's five years this week since I found my kidnapped friend May in China. That incredible success was the result of many months of difficult - and sometimes dangerous - work. I've been here working ever since. The global human trafficking crisis now claims over 40...

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The last possible moment

It's annoying, I know - someone hassling you for money. You know what? I knew we were running out of money for our anti-trafficking work. I've known it for a long time - and yet I waited until the last possible moment before running a fundraising campaign. Why?...

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Surprise

I enjoy surprising people, giving them a little more than they were expecting. Over the past two weeks, our award-winning documentary, 'Sisters for Sale', has been surprising a lot of people - including many of the people who worked on it. A little surprise...

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Right here, right now

We've reached over 142,500 people - via Facebook, Imgur, Instagram, Twitter, and email - since our 2019 fundraising campaign launched last week. It's a modest achievement compared to some of our previous fundraising efforts. (On 1st November 2016, for example, we...

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Glitches

Two days ago, we released a special sneak-peek of 'Sisters for Sale' to our supporters, ahead of the global launch on 16th May. 'Sisters for Sale' is a unique story with the power to make a very real difference against the global human trafficking crisis. Because of...

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Go for launch

'Sisters for Sale' sneak-peek Two weeks from today will be the global launch of our award-winning feature documentary, 'Sisters for Sale'. Today, for the very first time, those of you who have supported our work will receive a very special sneak-peek at the film....

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Speaking in tongues

It's now less than a week until the special early release of our feature documentary, 'Sisters for Sale', and we're hard at work here behind the scenes. We're preparing not one film, but eight separate versions: both the original and the fully-subtitled English...

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People get ready

We're hard at work getting ready for the global launch of our feature documentary, 'Sisters for Sale', and today we have some more details to share with you. The global launch will take place on Thursday 16th May. Those of you who have contributed $25 or more to...

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Challengers

Our feature documentary, 'Sisters for Sale', has had a fantastic start - it has now screened at two competitive festivals, and has won prizes at both! At our European premiere in November, 'Sisters for Sale' won the Arrigoni Prize for courageous storytelling at the...

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The final countdown

Asian premiere Following the success of our European and Australian premieres of 'Sisters for Sale', we had big plans for the documentary in Asia. We'd hoped to organise the Asian premiere ourselves - in Vietnam, together with Alliance Anti-Trafic and Blue Dragon...

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Funny how time slips away

I'm currently staying with friends in a half-constructed house in Asia. Just a few minutes ago, one of the construction workers stepped inside and saw me typing. 'Facebook?' he guessed, gesturing at my laptop. He clearly spoke English as a second language, if at all,...

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#MeToo: Now what?

Six years ago, after my friends were kidnapped, I launched 'The Human, Earth Project' to raise awareness of human trafficking. My work with human trafficking soon led me to an even larger issue, which affects us all directly: the issue of women's rights. For the past...

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Fire it up

Our Australian premiere of ‘Sisters for Sale’ took place last Wednesday 16th January at Screenwave International Film Festival in Coffs Harbour. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. On one hand, I knew the Screenwave team were extremely well-organised and they’d put together a fantastic 16-day program. On the other hand, Coffs Harbour – with its beaches and banana groves – seemed like a strangely provincial location for such a large film festival.

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Back in black

Four weeks ago, thanks to a massive technical failure and a consistent error in creating backups, I lost our feature documentary, 'Sisters for Sale'.  Yesterday, thanks to Laco Gaal and Dave Imison, I was finally able to reconstruct the film, which means we can now go...

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Something’s burning

This year's festive season has been marred by catastrophic technical failure for our feature documentary, 'Sisters for Sale'.  'Sisters for Sale' is comprised of over a thousand separate video, audio, animation, graphics and music files.  Using the software, editing...

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Australian premiere

After the recent success of our world premiere (and first award!) at the Human Rights Film Festival of Naples, Italy, I'm excited to announce the details of the next major event on our calendar: our Australian premiere.  Our feature documentary, 'Sisters for Sale',...

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Courage

Last Thursday was the world premiere of our feature documentary, 'Sisters for Sale', at the X Festival del Cinema dei Diritti Umani di Napoli - that is, the 10th Human Rights Film Festival of Naples, in Italy.  The day before the premiere, we released the gorgeous...

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For the first time today

Ahead of tomorrow's world premiere of 'Sisters for Sale' in Naples, Italy, I'm excited to announce that the 'Sisters for Sale' soundtrack is being released today!  'Sisters for Sale' has a gorgeous original score composed by the amazing Johanna N. Wilson and Will M....

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Respect

Next week, our feature documentary, 'Sisters For Sale', will premiere at the Human Rights Film Festival of Naples, in Italy.  'Sisters For Sale' will serve two purposes: to raise awareness of the global human trafficking crisis, and to raise much-needed funds for...

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Something to think about

For months, the question on everyone's lips has been, When will 'Sisters For Sale' be released?  Last week I announced the details of our premiere, which will be held on 29th November at the Human Rights Film Festival in Naples, Italy.  Several team members and...

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Premiere

Two weeks ago, I announced that the world premiere of our feature documentary, 'Sisters For Sale', would be taking place in Italy this month. Today I can share the details with you.  'Sisters For Sale' will be screening in competition at the 'X Festival del Cinema dei...

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Afterall

It's been a wild few weeks here at 'The Human, Earth Project'.  Our feature documentary, 'Sisters For Sale' - conceived in 2013, shot in 2014, scratched together in 2015, finally funded in 2016, cut and polished in 2017, with an original score added just last month -...

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Ducks in a row

The world premiere of our feature documentary, 'Sisters For Sale', is coming up next month in Italy, and we're busy getting all of our ducks in a row.  I haven't yet announced the details of the premiere - I will do as soon as I receive the schedule from the film...

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Galvanize

It's been an exciting week here, with plenty of good news to share.  First of all, we've just confirmed screenings of 'Sisters For Sale' at not one but two great film festivals, on opposite sides of the planet. These will be the Australian and European premieres for...

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Crunch time

'The Human, Earth Project' has now been running for over five and a half years.  While many of its participants have been paid, I've never received anything from the project but the most basic living expenses - averaging less than $25 a day, and sometimes as little as...

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Into the music

Imagine you're a painter. For years, you've been labouring away on one huge canvas, pouring your heart and soul into it.  Suddenly another artist - someone you barely know - enters the studio and starts painting all over your work. You don't know which brushes,...

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Preparation for launch

I have two very special surprises for you today.  It has taken more time than expected to finish our feature documentary, 'Sisters For Sale', and you've all been waiting very patiently.  Today I want to give you a special sneak peek at what we've been working on. I'm...

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The masterplan

I have something very special to share with you in the coming week. Today I want to give you a glimpse at what's been happening behind the scenes, to give you a better idea of where we've come from, and where we're going.  Ten years ago today, I began my first journey...

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Pro-dialogue

This post isn't about our work against human trafficking - it's more important than that, and it affects us all, so please take a moment to read it through.  We're living in a deeply divided world.  Politically, I identify as a liberal, as do most of my friends. We...

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Keep the dream alive

Incredibly, it has now been five years since I left full-time work to pursue 'The Human, Earth Project'. It was five years ago this week that I received my final paycheck.  At the time, I imagined the project would unfold in a very predictable way. I'd spend six...

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Talking ’bout a revolution

It's a time of great change behind the scenes here at 'The Human, Earth Project', and I'm excited to share some really big news with you today.  Six months ago, I called for volunteers to help me promote the project. That call was answered by Melissa Adams, Katie...

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Things left unsaid

I have some very exciting news for you today - but first, I want to answer the question on everyone's lips.  In recent months, many of you have been asking what's happening with our feature documentary, 'Sisters For Sale'. Perhaps you saw my blog posts last August and...

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Better together

I'm very pleased to announce a new partnership between 'The Human, Earth Project' and GoPhilanthropic, a fantastic US-based organisation involved in raising awareness and funds for charitable organisations around the globe.  This is the first of several partnerships I...

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We the people

I've been quiet lately, but there's been a lot happening behind the scenes here with 'The Human, Earth Project'. Poster competition Last month I announced a little competition to win the first-ever print of either the "mother's love" or "sunset glow" poster design. To...

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Don’t stop believing

This is the most fascinating moment in the last several years of my work on 'The Human, Earth Project'. There are really exciting things now happening behind the scenes; some I've spoken about previously, and some I've only hinted at. Five years ago, when it began,...

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Eyes on the prize

Last week I asked for your opinion on the four 'Sisters For Sale' poster designs, and which one you would choose. In the past three days, over 100 people have responded: some with a simple vote, others with a thoughtful analysis of the designs, and I want to thank you...

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For real

Today I have a little surprise, a special prize, and a question for you. Over the past nine months, I've shared two very different poster designs for our feature documentary, 'Sisters For Sale'. The first - the cinematic poster - shows a desperate yet defiant young...

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Darker than blue

Last month I unveiled a brand new 'Sisters For Sale' poster design, and offered the first ever print to whoever could decipher its meaning. The design was shared via my blog, the front page of Imgur, and (thanks to our amazing promotion team of Melissa Adams, Katie...

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Introducing the band

It's hard to overstate the impact a strong piece of music can have in a film. The right music provides an audience with a guide to help navigate the emotional complexities of a story. The repetition, combination and variation of particular melodies and instruments...

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The colour and the shape

Last July, I shared a cinematic poster I'd designed for our feature documentary, 'Sisters For Sale', together with an explanation of what it meant to me. The response was so positive I shared it a few days later on Imgur, where it quickly became one of their Most...

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Five years

There are two very different styles of mountain-climbing. The first is expedition style: using a larger team to establish a series of base camps at increasing altitudes, with enough supplies and equipment for a safe and steady ascent. The second is alpine style:...

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In the light

'Sisters For Sale' is a unique story, with a unique power to shine a light onto the dark realities of human trafficking. Most people are now aware of human trafficking - yet the trafficking stories we are told are often impersonal, inaccessible, and oversimplified....

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Balance

'Sisters For Sale' is a rather unusual documentary, following an extraordinary story through some very strange events. After filming the documentary, it took me a long time to begin processing the experience, and to start making sense of those events - particularly...

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Good feeling

Two months ago, I was taking a city bus through an area that had been hit hard by the economic crises of the past decade. There was an old man in the centre section of the bus, near the back doors. Instead of a walker, he had a little old wooden table on wheels to...

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Into the labyrinth

It's been 18.5 years since I first became professionally involved in filmmaking. I've spent a great deal of time working with technical aspects of filmmaking - scripting, filming, editing, etc. - but these things are behind me now. Everything beyond this point is...

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Keep your dreams

I first launched 'The Human, Earth Project' after learning of the abduction of my young Hmong friend, M.   The impossible dream behind the project was to get M home. M was taken from her home in northern Vietnam in July 2011, and presumed trafficked into China. ...

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Speaking in tongues

Today I want to recognise a few of the unsung heroes behind the scenes here at 'The Human, Earth Project' - the interpreters and translators who have made 'Sisters For Sale' possible. 'Sisters For Sale', our feature documentary, tells the story of the search for my...

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A touch of colour

I met Marta Farina on my very first trip to Vietnam, seven years ago. I spent two weeks with Marta and her then-partner Fausto, getting to know Sapa and the Hmong girls who have now become the focus of our feature documentary, 'Sisters For Sale'. The next time I saw...

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Almost killed me

I never imagined making a feature film would be easy, but I never knew how hard it was going to be. You pick the film apart. You put it back together. You watch it again, and again, until you just can't see it anymore. You push yourself, just a little further. Making...

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The final cut

Many things in life are a lot more complicated and time-consuming than originally anticipated. Recording the narration for our feature documentary, 'Sisters For Sale', was no exception. When I first began scripting the film, I tried to distance myself from the story,...

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Making the grade

There are almost a thousand separate pieces of footage in 'Sisters For Sale'. Each of those needs to be analysed, corrected and enhanced so they look great both individually, and as a cohesive whole. Some shots require little or no adjustment. Others can be run...

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Torn apart

'Sisters For Sale' has been my baby for years.  I've been intimately involved in every stage of its development - which makes me the worst person to see it objectively, much less to tear it apart. Last month, I visited Denmark's second-largest city, Aarhus, to work on...

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Poster girl

Our feature documentary, 'Sisters For Sale', tells a five-year story in two short hours. The trailer for the film showcases the same five-year story in just three minutes. Today, for the first time, I'm sharing the 'Sisters For Sale' poster - which is designed to...

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A well-kept secret

It's an exciting time for 'The Human, Earth Project' - we're approaching a huge milestone with the release of our feature documentary, 'Sisters For Sale', and today I'll be raising the curtains on where our journey will be leading us beyond the film!  First things...

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Checking it twice

I've now spent some 50-odd months working on 'Sisters For Sale' and 'The Human, Earth Project'. For much of that time, I've been working alone - but I don't like to refer to 'Sisters For Sale' as "my" documentary, or 'The Human, Earth Project' as "my" project, because...

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Like clockwork

To the audience, a good film seems to flow uninterrupted from beginning to end.  The images and sound seem to blend together to create a single continuous piece, a river of light streaming from one scene, one shot, one idea, to the next. Behind the scenes, it's a very...

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Continuity

Since my work against human trafficking began four years ago, there has been a high level of uncertainty in my life. I didn't know what had happened to my kidnapped friends, or how to find them. I didn't know what would happen to my friends - or their children - after...

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Beyond the waves

This week marks not one but three milestones. On Tuesday I shared a birthday with 'The Human, Earth Project', now in its fifth year, so this - my 200th blog post - seems like a good moment to pause for reflection. I was fortunate enough to have been born and raised in...

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2017

Some of you haven't heard from me in three months, and I apologise. A technical glitch has prevented delivery of news via the mailing list. You'll have missed some interviews, my year-end reflection, and my new year's resolution. Today I'll be looking at where 'The...

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Resolution

Over the past four years, for many people, I've become the human trafficking guy. They'll recommend to me the books, films, articles and interviews they find on human trafficking. They'll want to speak about human trafficking when they meet me. I've never experienced...

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What a year

When I first launched 'The Human, Earth Project', I really couldn't imagine what I was getting myself into. What was originally planned as a six-month project has evolved into something far larger and much more involved. I'll soon be entering the fifth year of the...

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Just breathe

After three very intense months of work on our amazingly successful fundraising campaign, November has been a quieter month spent tying up loose ends and preparing for the long edit of our feature-length documentary, 'Sisters For Sale'. Those of you who chose to...

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Coming through

We're only just beginning to emerge from the organised chaos of our amazingly successful crowdfunding campaign. After years of struggling to get 'The Human, Earth Project' the attention and funding it needs, the outpouring of support over the past two months, and...

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The money men

Countless thousands of girls and young women are kidnapped and trafficked into China every year - not only from Vietnam, but also Laos, Myanmar, and other neighbouring countries.  Many of these girls are sold into lives of perpetual rape in Chinese brothels, from...

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Sold

Countless Hmong girls are stolen from Vietnam each year, betrayed by people they trust and perhaps even love. Trafficked into China, many are sold into lives of brutality and horror in Chinese brothels - but what becomes of the rest? Sadly, these girls are being taken...

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Gratitude

Something incredible just happened. Since my friends were kidnapped from their homes in Vietnam, I've given everything to raise awareness of the global human trafficking crisis. For years, I've struggled to get this work the attention and funding it needs. Sometimes...

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Stolen

Teenaged Hmong girls - most of them still children - are being forcibly taken in their thousands from the mountains of northern Vietnam, to be sold as brides and prostitutes in China. Deception is a major element of these abductions. The girls are betrayed by...

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Betrayed

Many of us look forward to marriage, to finding that special someone we can share our lives with. The Hmong girls of northern Vietnam share the same dream: only for these girls, courtship can be a game of life or death - or worse. Over the past weeks, I've...

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Surviving

In the West, we're raised with the idea that we can be anything we want to be, and do anything we want to do with our lives. For the Hmong girls of Vietnam, this is an alien concept: the options facing them in life are generally few and miserable. Hundreds and...

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One more time

For the inexperienced, crowdfunding looks like free money. It's really not. Our current campaign to complete 'Sisters For Sale' and combat human trafficking crisis in Vietnam has taken months of work. It's been a physically and emotionally draining time. With...

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Anatomy of an abduction

Last week I wrote about the Hmong custom of marriage by abduction, which features in our forthcoming feature documentary, 'Sisters For Sale'. Marriage by abduction is a violent tradition which permits a Hmong man to kidnap a girl or young woman of his desire from the...

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Marriage by abduction

I've spent the past 3.5 years working on 'Sisters For Sale', our powerful feature documentary to raise awareness of the global human trafficking crisis.  'Sisters For Sale' focuses on some teenaged Hmong friends from Vietnam, who are amongst countless thousands of...

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Making it easy

Today's a big day, for two reasons: 1. For the very first time, I'm giving the world a sneak peek at 'Sisters For Sale', the film I've been working towards for the past 3.5 years. 2. We've just launched our final, make-or-break fundraising campaign to...

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Step out

I have two very special surprises for you today. This Wednesday - in two days' time - we'll be launching a final fundraising campaign to complete Sisters For Sale, our feature documentary to raise awareness of human trafficking. For the first time, you'll have a...

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Bearing fruit

Sisters For Sale has been my life for the past 3.5 years. It's a powerful and very personal feature documentary about the search for my missing friends.Kidnapped from their homes in Vietnam, they were trafficked into China and sold as teenaged brides to strangers. By...

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Branching out

I have some very exciting news for you this week. Over the coming months, The Human, Earth Project will be going further than ever before. Sisters For Sale, our feature-length documentary exploring the complex realities of human trafficking, will be an...

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Spreading roots

The Human, Earth Project is growing. It grows slowly at times, almost imperceptibly, yet has never stopped spreading across the globe. Sometimes it circles all the way around to find me again. Recently, I was wading through a muddy jungle on a tiny island in the...

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This is it

Two weeks ago, I announced a unique, once-in-a-lifetime volunteering opportunity in the mountains of northern Vietnam. I'd like to thank everyone who helped spread the message, and those of you who came forward with the many excellent applications. The position has...

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Listen up

Updated 22nd and 31st JulyA lot of ventures fail after their first three years. After three years, it seems, many of them run out of funding, out of favours, and out of friends. It's all the more difficult when your work was never designed to make a profit, just a...

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Keep my composure

It hasn't been the best of times. In mid-May I fell ill for a month - and just as I was recovering, I fell ill again. It's been physically exhausting, and left me sapped of strength. Even when I'm sick, even when I'm tired, I work. I push myself to meet the monthly...

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Back to reality: Citizenfour

Laura Poitras does not make beautiful documentaries. She doesn't use slick titles, clever little animations or gorgeous music. Poitras doesn't appeal to your heart: she goes straight for the brain. She won't win you over with a convincing narration or stacks of...

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Back to reality: The oath

Each week, I'm sharing one of my all-time favourite documentaries here with you. This week's documentary is Laura Poitras' The Oath. In 2013, Edward Snowden - NSA whistleblower and one of my personal heroes -  selected Laura Poitras as the documentary...

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Back to reality: My country, my country

I watch a lot of documentaries. Last year, I began recommending some of my favourites here on my blog, and it's time I got back in the habit. Each week, I'll be sharing one of my all-time favourite documentaries with you. This week's documentary is Laura Poitras' My...

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Stopping the unstoppable

Each year for the past three years, the anti-trafficking organisation Walk Free has released a Global Slavery Index - that is, an estimate of women, men and children around the world living as victims of modern slavery and human trafficking. Their latest figure was...

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Gathering momentum

The Human, Earth Project has been a very personal undertaking for me, and it has taken on many of my own strengths and weaknesses. I've never been a very patient person, and I rushed into the search for my kidnapped friends without arranging many of the practicalities...

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How a resurrection really feels

The Human, Earth Project was not born from a single source of inspiration, but from a number of coinciding factors in my life. The first, and by far the most important, was my teenaged friend M who was abducted from Vietnam, and believed trafficked into China. Another...

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Symbiosis

In recent years, we've seen the rise of a new Internet-based form of political activism: it's been dubbed slacktivism. Slacktivism is when we show our support for something online, without actually doing anything in the real world. It includes all those countless...

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Having a party

I received an email last night from my aunt, about a program that CNN is screening this week. It's a documentary on young women being trafficked from Vietnam, to be sold as brides to Chinese men. The basic premise sounded very similar to Sisters For Sale, the...

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The diamond

Six months ago, I found myself surrounded by people who took a great interest in my work against human trafficking. With my investigation into the abductions of my friends in Vietnam, my surprisingly successful search for them in China, and my struggles to help them...

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Many rivers to cross

Over the past year, Sisters For Sale has been taking shape, and taking on a life of its own. Giving birth would be the obvious analogy - but even from the womb this baby has begun dictating its needs and wants. Which shot is missing, and where. Where to add a piece of...

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Back to reality VII: Rebellion

The latest batch of Academy Awards were distributed in Hollywood on Sunday.Their recipients ranged from intelligent, thought-provoking films on very worthy subjects to... well, Fury Road, two hours of senseless, relentless overstimulation, with a popularity even more...

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Letting go

I never met Chris Tenz, despite the fact that we both lived on the same street in the same tiny hamlet, and knew dozens of people in common. When I first launched The Human, Earth Project, I was working in the Canadian Rockies. I stayed there for ten months, saving...

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Viva la persistence

It has now been three years since The Human, Earth Project was born, and what a ride it has been. The first year took me back to Asia to begin the search for my trafficked friends M and P. The second year was a phenomenal success, as I located both M and P...

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Back to reality VI: Understanding

I've spent years of my life living and travelling around the globe, to get a better understanding of the world in which we live. I watch documentaries for the same reason. One part of the world I've found the most difficult to understand is the Middle East,...

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Back to reality V: Sing

On my journey to complete our feature-length anti-trafficking documentary Sisters For Sale, I've been absorbing some of the world's finest documentaries. Late last year I presented a series of blog posts introducing you to a few of my favourites. Several of you have...

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Keep hope alive

I took a two-week break over the new year, and spent Christmas Day on the beach of a small developing nation. After the sun had set, my friends and I went in search of a taxi to take us back to the city nearby. We chose the wrong taxi. The driver, who identified...

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A really long year

It's been a really long year.Whereas many of last year's struggles were public and very dramatic, this year they have been comparatively dull battles behind closed doors.  When Sisters For Sale was crowdfunded in early 2014, it was to be a modest film about my...

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Back to reality IV: Giving thanks

Yesterday was Thanksgiving here in the United States.I spent the day with new friends in the mountains of southern California, while the first snows tumbled down through the pines outside. It's been one year since I stepped away from the disadvantaged communities of...

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Back to reality III: Shine a light

It's been almost a month since I last wrote.  It's been a long, strange month in which the pieces of my life were kicked up and scattered, and have only just begun to resettle in unexpected new ways.  Last month, I wrote about the incredible emotional strength of...

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Back to reality

As an audience member, it is easy to watch a completed documentary - particularly a well-made documentary - and believe the story has unfolded in the only possible way. The film seems to build organically, following a logical path from a clearly-defined beginning to...

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Battling on

On Tuesday I mentioned that acclaimed crime writer Belinda Bauer had been shortlisted amongst fierce competition for the prestigious Gold Dagger, an award given to the best crime novel of the year.  Belinda's novel,

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Moving forward

In January I first wrote about Belinda Bauer, the author of six acclaimed crime novels, and a longtime supporter of The Human, Earth Project. Belinda cites the Project as an inspiration for her latest work, The Shut Eye, which revolves around the mysterious...

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New strength

Sculpture can be either an additive or subtractive process. A sculptor might build his work from scratch, or else chip away at a block of stone to discover his creation within. For the past six months, I have dedicated myself to the post-production of our...

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M’s dilemma XIV: A new identity

For the first time since her abduction almost four years earlier, my trafficked Hmong friend M had the freedom to return home to her family in Vietnam. After finally reaching the border, however, M turned back at the urgings of her Chinese "husband". She did so to...

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M’s dilemma XIII: Broken wings

My trafficked Hmong friend M never made it home to her family in Vietnam. After having risked a bus journey of some 3,000 kilometres (1,800 miles) across China without identification, M had almost reached the Vietnamese border. M first hesitated on hearing rumours of...

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M’s dilemma XII: On the border

Almost four years after being abducted from her home in Vietnam and sold as a bride in China, my trafficked friend M was nearly home. M's Chinese "husband" had, unexpectedly, given his permission for M to visit her family in Vietnam.As an illegal resident, M had...

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M’s dilemma XI: Clever girl

M's story had been a horrific one - yet how was she to prove it?When she'd been abducted as a teenager from her home in Vietnam and trafficked into China, my young Hmong friend had been stripped of her clothes, her Vietnamese phone, and her identity. When she'd been...

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M’s dilemma X: Hunting the hunter

There are many similarities in the stories of my trafficked Hmong friends M and P. Both were abducted at the age of sixteen from their home in northern Vietnam. Both were deceived, drugged and spirited across the border by young Vietnamese Hmong men. Both were held...

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M’s dilemma IX: A case of mistaken identity

The past month has, for me, been spent deep in the edit of Sisters For Sale, our feature-length documentary to raise awareness of human trafficking. The film focuses on the stories of my teenaged Hmong friends who were abducted from northern Vietnam and trafficked to...

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M’s dilemma VIII: A twist in the tail

In 2010, while living in the mountains of northern Vietnam, I became friends with a teenaged Hmong girl named M. The following year M was abducted, and was believed trafficked to China for sale as a bride or prostitute. Last year, I finally succeeded in contacting,...

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Shattered

It has now been one month since the 7.8-magnitude earthquake which rocked Nepal, and the impoverished nation is still reeling. Many of the hundreds of aftershocks, with magnitudes as high as 7.3, might be considered major earthquakes in their own rights, and have left...

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Home

What was planned as a short break from The Human, Earth Project has been a busy time for me here in Australia. At one point I caught myself working on three computers synchronously, juggling eight terrabytes of external hard drives to get everything in order for the...

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Aftershock

It has now been one week since the colossal 7.8-magnitude earthquake that rocked Nepal and the surrounding region. As the damage is assessed and the death toll soars, it seems likely to surpass Nepal's 1934 earthquake to become the most devastating quake in Nepali...

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Shock

In 2011, I spent a monsoon season living in a village in the Himalayan foothills of central Nepal.  Ten months ago, I returned to that village to reconnect with Amma and Laksman, a local couple there that had taken me into their family.  I also reconnected with Saroj,...

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Storytelling

Since finishing the first draft of the Sisters For Sale documentary script six weeks ago, I've been working with the script and footage synchronously, to understand how the story works in practice. I've been searching for the best way to condense a complex and...

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About a girl

My primary motivation for returning to Asia 19 months ago was to search for M, a teenaged Hmong friend who had been abducted and presumed trafficked to China for sale as a bride or prostitute. Many people believed that search to be impossible, and I'll freely admit...

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Who cares?

Recently I've been receiving more attention for my work with The Human, Earth Project. It was thrilling to see last night's premiere of the documentary Bargain Brides, on Vietnamese women being sold as brides in China. A large portion of the documentary focuses on P's...

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Bargain Brides

Last year I celebrated Christmas in the village home of my friend P, a recent survivor of human trafficking.P, her family and I were also joined by an international film crew producing a 50-minute television documentary on the countless young women being trafficked...

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A crisis of sorts

I'll admit it - I'm an addict. For too long now I've been slave to an addiction which has cost me vast sums of money and separated me from my family, friends, and the life I once loved. I'm talking about travelling. Am I joking? Yes and no. I had my mid-life crisis...

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Making diamonds of coal

I was given a one-month visa when I entered Cambodia, and I set myself the goal to complete the first draft of the Sisters For Sale documentary script before that visa expired on 10th March. (That's today). It was an immense job that involved sifting through and...

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For the win

Thanks to all of you who showed your support in January, I'm excited to announce that The Human, Earth Project is now one of 5 worldwide finalists for the 2015 best topical weblog award! The Human, Earth Project blog records the life-changing experiences of my...

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Stay young

This week marks another birthday for both myself and The Human, Earth Project, and a perfect opportunity for a spot of navel-gazing. It's incredible to think it's now been more than ten years since I began travelling the globe. My adventures then, although they seemed...

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Meet Ethos

In 2010, I was living in a small mountain town in northern Vietnam. In that town I became friends with M and P, two teenaged Hmong girls from a neighbouring village who were later abducted and sold across the Chinese border. Last year, I spent three months in that...

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Two dollars

I'm generally a very tolerant person who prefers to avoid physical confrontation, and Laotians tend to be extremely calm and easy-going people. That's why it came as a surprise when three largely-uneventful weeks in Laos ended with a team of Laotian border guards...

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No news is good news

I apologise for not having written earlier; I was too busy writing. The last time I wrote to you all was on my final day in Vietnam, and today - three weeks later - is my final day in Laos. They've been three highly rewarding weeks. I've finally...

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How far we’ve come

The Human, Earth Project, as you all know, is an ongoing campaign to raise awareness of human trafficking. Having achieved more with the Project in 2014 than anyone dared hope for, and finding myself with a little more time to breathe, I am now seeking to raise the...

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Here we go again

P has successfully reconstructed her life, M's situation remains unchanged, and my work here in Vietnam is finished... Which is fortunate, as I'm being forced to leave the country. This time, it's nothing personal. Yesterday I discovered that, for reasons known only...

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A fire in the belly

What has, for you, been the most fascinating moment of The Human, Earth Project? Was it amongst those moments when at last I succeeded in contacting, locating and meeting with my trafficked Hmong friends P and M in China? Was it the moment when, after three years and...

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An incredible year

For those of you who haven't been following the adventures of The Human, Earth Project through 2014, it's been an incredible year. Here are a few of the most memorable moments: The year began with Hmong friends in Laos. Days later, my trafficked Hmong friend M...

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No rest for the wicked

On Christmas Eve, just as many of you were beginning your holidays, I was going back to work in the mountains of northern Vietnam. Although Vietnam lies within the tropics, winter here in the mountains can be bitterly cold, as I experienced during my initial...

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Inspiration

Kim neung con bo sep. That's a Laotian phrase I encountered recently, which was translated for me as: When you eat alone, it's not delicious. For the past five months I've been working alone. I've had zero face-to-face contact with my collaborators on The Human, Earth...

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Losing my teeth

One month ago, I was concerned I'd become too deeply entangled in the life of my Hmong friend P, a recent survivor of human trafficking. I couldn't see how to step away. After we'd returned from our road trip, and the violent stalker Lucky Charm had made his unwelcome...

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M’s dilemma VII: Swirling uncertainties

After five long and frustrating months spent trying to arrange her rescue, I was told my trafficked Hmong friend M had fallen pregnant to her Chinese "husband" for a second time. If the rumour was true, it could very well be our last chance to bring her home. I was...

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M’s dilemma VI: Game over

On Monday 6th October, after four long and frustrating months, my friend Charlie and I finally had an opportunity to organise the rescue of my trafficked Hmong friend M, who would then be returned to Vietnam under the auspices of the Hanoi-based NGO Blue Dragon.M,...

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M’s dilemma V: A golden opportunity

It had been two months since I'd spoken to my trafficked Hmong friend M. M's planned rescue had been cancelled after the Chinese "husband" who'd bought her had been alerted to her intentions. I had stopped calling M in the hopes that his suspicions would subside. The...

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M’s dilemma IV: Burden in my hand

At the last possible moment, I'd cancelled the rescue of my trafficked Hmong friend M from the "husband" who had bought her in China. I'd given M hope, and it had proved to be a very dangerous thing. M's "husband" had been alerted to her intention to leave and,...

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M’s dilemma III: Mountains beyond mountains

Late last year, I spoke with a friend about climbing mountains and running marathons. A parallel was drawn with The Human, Earth Project - in a sense, the Project has been a way of testing myself, and discovering where my limits lie. How far was I willing to go before...

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M’s dilemma II: Nowhere to turn

For the first time in almost three years, my friend M - trafficked from Vietnam and sold as a wife in China - had been given the power to determine her own fate. The decision that confronted her, however, was a decision no mother should ever have to make - a choice...

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M’s dilemma

Is human trafficking necessarily an evil? Is there any situation in which trafficking could help, rather than harm, its victims? What if, for example, the only way to give my trafficked friend M her freedom was to help bring home her Chinese-born child - which would...

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When roosters lay eggs

The Hmong people here in northern Vietnam have been raised in mountain villages of extreme gender bias, alcoholism and abuse. For many of the young Hmong women who have come to town, almost anything is preferable to marrying a local Hmong man and returning to life in...

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Beyond all limits

Over the past year, there have been countless antagonists in our story - human traffickers, paedophiles, and those who would rent or buy women. Now, however, P and I have a more immediate menace. He has a weapon, a gang, and a lust for violence. He knows our names,...

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A can of worms

It is a strange moment in history for the Hmong people of our little valley, and this is quite likely The Human, Earth Project's most bizarre episode ever. One of the reasons that the women here are so vulnerable to human trafficking is that their options here at home...

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From the ashes

P is no longer a victim of human trafficking - she is a survivor, and I'm here to ensure she does more than merely survive. It's not just a matter of helping her find a job and a place to stay - P needs to find the confidence, self-esteem and sense of self that have...

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A glimpse of Asia

Today I have a surprise for you all. First, however, I'd like to reveal something of the inner workings of The Human, Earth Project.Over the past eighteen months, The Human, Earth Project has entailed all the demands of managing a business, with none of the returns....

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No secrets

It's now the second week since P's return home, and we've been busy putting her life back together. P was to come home with the assistance of Blue Dragon, a Hanoi-based NGO which offers a thorough range of services to assist survivors of human trafficking, including...

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Rough justice

It can be difficult not to impose our own standards and values upon societies and cultures to which they simply do not apply. Here in the mountains of Vietnam, life is an entirely different game, with an entirely different set of rules. Behind the bright facade...

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A bird in the hand

My Hmong friend P - trafficked from Vietnam, sold into China, and escaped from the man who bought her - had vanished entirely.  After three years and eight months held against her will, P had fled more than 1,500 km (almost a thousand miles) frightened and alone...

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Into the fire

I first launched The Human, Earth Project after learning that my friend M had been abducted from her home, a town where I had lived in northern Vietnam. On my return to Vietnam this January, however, I learned M was not the only friend of mine who had fallen victim to...

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Hanging in the balance

Life goes on in our little mountain town, always changing and ever the same. The six months since I was last here have seen numerous radical transformations. A new highway has halved the travel time from Hanoi, and the town is now indundated with weekend traffic from...

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RTZ

In 2010, I met two Hmong girls, M and P, in a small town in the mountains of far northern Vietnam. The following year both girls were abducted and trafficked to China, where they were sold as wives. Six months ago, on my last visit to that mountain town, I told M and...

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Stay positive

The Human, Earth Project has long been a balancing act between drawing attention to raise awareness of human trafficking, and keeping a very low profile in the presence of traffickers and governments known to be hostile to foreign media. I've long been aware of the...

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At a loss

Many people have come together to create The Human, Earth Project and this week, tragically, the world has lost one of them.You've all heard Mike Taylor's music. Mike was one of the very first people involved in the Project, whose early enthusiasm helped give me the...

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Slow and steady

It's been fifty weeks since my return to Asia, and I've now spent more than fifty months here in total. What began as a six-month journey has become something much bigger than I'd ever imagined, and I'm only just beginning to understand with what a monumental task...

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Acceptance

Yesterday I experienced my first earthquake. I'd been walking in the mountains with a friend, and as we turned for home a sudden shock went through us both. We were on a narrow path on the face of a mountain, and it felt as though a giant fist had slammed into the...

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On tenterhooks

As many of you know, the Sisters For Sale documentary isn't the only thing I'm working on at the moment. For the past three months, I've also been working towards something I consider more important. Though I'd prefer not to be so cryptic, if you understand what it is...

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Civilisation

It can be difficult, at times, not to lose faith in humanity. Late last year, an Australian friend came to join Marinho and I in our search. He was looking forward to being a part of The Human, Earth Project, he said, because he'd lost his faith in humanity, and hoped...

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A long way from home

This week, I was hoping to have some wonderful news for you. Instead, everything I've been working towards has fallen through, and I've cancelled my return to China. I can't tell you how incredibly frustrating it feels to have worked towards this for so...

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The waiting game

My return to China has been delayed, and I've spent the past ten days in stasis in northern India. Most of that time has been spent with a nasty bout of stomach illness - the notorious Delhi belly - though I'm gradually recovering and catching up on a few...

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Homeward bound

At the very beginning of our journey together - almost ten months and over 40,000 kilometres ago - Marinho and I each tried to guess how many of the 100 portrait subjects we'd find. I said 90; Marinho said 80. He joked that we'd never reach 90, because he'd simply...

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Meet Dawood

Day: 293 Distance covered: 40,552 kilometres (25,198 miles) Subjects found: 80 I've been in the habit of making predictions about each of the people Marinho and I search for - which ones will be easy, and which ones more challenging. When it came to Daoud, the...

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Meet Amma

Day: 282Distance covered: 36,968 km (22,971 miles)Subjects found: 79The road snaked up from the valley floor to the village I once called home, sprawling atop a broad green ridge in central Nepal.  It had been three years since my return, and the dusk light couldn't...

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Meet Saroj

Day: 279 Distance covered: 36,796 km (22,864 miles)Subjects found: 78In 2011, I spent five months living in a small village in the hills of central Nepal, and came to know many of the locals there. One of them was a fourteen-year-old boy named Saroj. The second of...

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Hard luck

Day: 276Distance covered: 37,399 km (23,239 miles)Subjects found: 77After having succeeded spectacularly in our search over the past nine months, Marinho and I now find ourselves defeated by the caterpillar fungus. The "world's most expensive fungus" attacks and...

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Meet Ayong and Zen Ga

Day: 273Distance covered: 36,796 km (22,864 miles)Subjects found: 77Yesterday, we were told she'd passed away. We found her today, very much alive. It was a bitterly cold morning, with ice still on the ground from last night's hailstorm, as Marinho and I went hunting...

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A happy ending

Day: 271Distance covered: 36,706 km (22,808 miles)Subjects found: 75M is now alone more than ever. Her "husband" won't let her leave the house, she says, while he himself returns only out of necessity. M suspects he is seeing someone else - he no longer comes home for...

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On the run

Day: 270Distance covered: 36,421 km (22,631 miles)Subjects found: 75We've had some wonderful news today. I mentioned last week that two of M's traffickers - a Chinese Hmong couple - were still involved in her life. Claiming to have spent a year in their home before...

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Luck and persistence

Day: 268Distance covered: 34,227 km (21,268 miles)Subjects found: 75Saturday's meeting was brief, and bittersweet for M. It was her first contact in three years with a world she thought had forgotten her, a world she still remembers but can no longer reach. Only later...

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Meet M

Day: 264Distance covered: 34,173 km (24,234 miles)Subjects found: 75! In 2010, I was living in a misty mountain town in far northern Vietnam. Many young Hmong girls would come to town from the surrounding villages to sell handicrafts and guided treks to tourists. A...

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Courage

Day: 262Distance covered: 34,119 km (21,201 miles)Subjects found: 74 At last, Marinho and I have the name of M's village. Today we went on a reconnaissance mission to the town nearest the village, with an outside hope of arranging a meeting. The town centres around a...

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How high the mountain is

Day: 261Distance covered: 34,073 km (21,172 miles)Subjects found: 74  I've spoken to M five times in the past two days. It has been extremely difficult to determine her precise location, as M herself seems to have little understanding of where she is. There are no...

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This is why we fight

Day: 259Distance covered: 34,063 km (21,166 miles)Subjects found: 74 Using what tools we have and the information that she herself has been able to provide, Marinho and I have located the area of China in which M now lives. It's a very small area by Chinese...

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Strength of will

Day: 254Distance covered: 31,883 km (19,811 miles)Subjects found: 74Marinho and I were searching for fourteen people in China's Yunnan province; we found eleven. The other three we've struck from our list - our single biggest disappointment since the very beginning of...

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Meet Chuan Hou, Chang Xi and You Cun

Day: 245Distance covered: 28,976 km (18,005 miles)Subjects found: 74It had been almost six months since the last time Marinho and I came into direct opposition with the authorities - the police, the army and the immigration office, all at once, in fact. This time our...

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Meet Shi Ying, Zhong Guo and Bao Xing

Day: 244Distance covered: 28,874 km (17,941 miles)Subjects found: 71Our search for locals I'd photographed at a town market in southern China four years ago led Marinho and I out amongst the surrounding villages, and into the homes of three delightful grandfathers. At...

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Meet Zhong Ming and Yu

Day: 243Distance covered: 28,859 km (17,932 miles)Subjects found: 68I found Zhong Ming at the town market, just where I'd found him four years earlier, and recognised him instantly. Zhong Ming, however, recognised neither himself or his grandson Yu in the photograph I...

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Meet Bingkun

Day: 242Distance covered: 28,857 km (17,931 miles)Subjects found: 66There is a beautiful little town in southern China whose Friday market draws people from many minority villages scattered across the surrounding valley and mountains. One Friday, four years ago, I...

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Meet Yulu and Jiafa

Day: 241Distance covered: 28,856 km (17,930 miles)Subjects found: 65I would never have taken his portrait at all, but for his own insistence. Today I returned to find Yulu, and the elephant in the room. Yulu is 36 years old, the eldest of seven children. He was born...

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Treading water

Day: 239Distance covered: 28,733 km (17,854 miles)Subjects found: 63Our journey through China was scheduled to last six weeks, with two trafficked girls and 24 photographic subjects to locate, and over 8,000 kilometres to cover by bus and train. Our first two weeks...

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Meet P

Day: 231Distance covered: 26,877 km (16,701 miles)Subjects found: 63 P was never one of our 100 subjects. P is a friend of M and myself from Vietnam, a Hmong girl who was also trafficked as a child into China. Three years ago, P was taken across the border, held...

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Meet Zhe Mimi

Day: 227Distance covered: 26,232 km (16,299 miles)Subjects found: 63In 2010, I spent two weeks volunteering as an English teacher in southern China. One morning, some local students offered to take another teacher and myself to a little place they knew hidden away in...

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A quick note

I've started receiving messages from people wondering if I'm still alive. It's true that it's been a long time since I last wrote - not because nothing's been happening, but because so much has been happening there's been no time to write about it all! We've...

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Thank you

Marinho and I have spent the past week entangled with embassies, banks and equipment failure, and waiting on things that have failed to materialise - not to mention having completed an exhausting 47-hour overland journey from one end of Vietnam to the other. Our big...

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Exclamation marks

In the past sixty days, more than 200 friends and strangers from 23 countries have launched us all the way to our $12,000 fundraising target!  My gratitude goes out around the globe to each and every one of you (in order of appearance!):  Carola Irvine, Daan and Trix...

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Make a difference

There are less than 24 hours remaining of The Human, Earth Project fundraising campaign. Over the past nine months, the Project has cost $18,087, the vast majority of which has come out of my own savings. Production and post-production of our Sisters For Sale...

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Counting down

Marinho and I have just returned to Vietnam for a final month of filming before we cross to China. Yesterday we conducted a great interview with one of the leading figures in the anti-trafficking movement in Indochina, and have more key interviews scheduled for the...

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Humble heroes

We're now in the final days of the campaign to fund Sisters For Sale, our feature-length documentary to raise awareness of human trafficking. Already we've raised US$9,263 from 172 amazing people around the world. I'm deeply grateful to everyone who's been involved...

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Meet Cheata, Vany and Takeh

Day: 193Distance covered: 21,296 km (13,232 miles)Subjects found: 62As many of you know, Marinho and I are not only looking for M here in Asia. To help draw attention to her story, we've been searching for 99 other people across nine countries, including many poor and...

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Title / art

I'm very excited to announce that Marta Farina, a highly talented artist and good friend of mine, will be illustrating the title sequence for our feature-length documentary. Specialising in children's illustrations, frescoes and murals, Marta studied at the Academy of...

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Striking distance

Over the past three months in Vietnam and northern Thailand, Marinho and I have interviewed dozens of people, both on and off camera, to learn all we can about human trafficking in general, and the trafficking of Hmong girls from Vietnam to China in particular. We've...

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A silver lining

I'd like to share some news about M. Two months ago, M called home from China for the first time since she was abducted. Within days, Marinho and I arrived in Vietnam to gather all the information we could. We obtained her Chinese number and passed it to people who,...

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Hope and validation

There are times I feel like I'm beating my head against a wall.  In the past month, I've sent out more than a thousand personal messages to friends and acquaintances, trying to raise support for the countless young girls being stolen and sold here in Asia.  Most of...

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Two weeks

The Human, Earth Project crowdfunding campaign was scheduled to end today - and, generally, campaign deadlines cannot be extended. This week I was approached by Indiegogo - our crowdfunding hosts - and invited to extend the campaign. Saturday 8th March is...

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Happy birthday

Last Friday was my birthday. I spent the day speaking with my abducted friend M's parents, and at the village funeral of a young local man. Friday was also, in a sense, our birthday. It marked exactly one year since this thing between us - The Human, Earth Project -...

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Looking up

Here in Vietnam this morning, Marinho and I conducted a touching and beautiful interview and received the best information we've yet heard about M and her sister. Today in Australia, The Human, Earth Project was featured on ABC radio, and the front page of my local...

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Something beautiful

I've been speaking a lot recently about our crowdfunding campaign; I've been very quiet about our investigations here in Vietnam, and the production of our documentary. Though I can't give you too many details at this stage, both are going very well. Marinho and I...

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Shut your eyes

Today I spoke with a mother of seven who fears for her children. Phinh lives in a village of five hundred people. About five girls are taken each year, she says, and have been for the past ten years or more. You do the maths. Phinh's eleven-year-old daughter Pang was...

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Stand up

When was the last time you really cared about something? When was the last time you put your foot down, and stood up against something you knew was wrong? I'm writing this from the mountains of northern Vietnam, where I'm filming a feature-length documentary on human...

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Incredible things

This is the moment we've been working towards for months. Today is the day we'll find out if our crowdfunding campaign has been worth all the sweat and blood, if the world even wants to know about the plague of human trafficking, if anyone wants to see a film exposing...

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Day One

The Human, Earth Project has been a process of rapid evolution. The Project was born from my desire to find my abducted friend M, and to tell her story to as many people as possible. At the time, I had no means to do so. When the Project first launched ten months ago,...

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Spoiler alert

I'm going to send you a message exactly seven days from now.  It's going tell you about the search for my friend M, who was kidnapped two and a half years ago, and hasn't been seen since. I'll also talk about the feature-length documentary we're filming about M's...

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One kidnapped girl

We all have our moments of doubt, and there are times when I wonder what I'm doing here in Asia at all. Surely there's nothing I can hope to achieve against the Goliath that is human trafficking; surely I'll never find one kidnapped girl in the world's most populous...

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Meet Boukou, Khachei, Cho Phew, Loeh and Xacha

Day: 114Distance covered: 13,558 km (8,426 miles)Subjects found: 51It can be extraordinarily difficult to condense such a prolonged, intense experience into a concise, easily-digested message for you all. Where should I begin? How to slice it into bite-sized...

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Boxing day

Boxing Day was the day we'd intended to launch our crowdfunding campaign.Thanks to the incredible team assembled here in Chiang Mai, the network of people involved in the launch grew to some forty or fifty people around the globe, and it proved impossible to...

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A small correction

Marinho and I have been shooting an incredible amount of gorgeous footage here in Asia. The last time I wrote, I told you all I'd be sharing the very first glimpse of that footage on Boxing Day.I couldn't wait that long.On 26th December, I'll be sharing over five...

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Big news

I have some big news for you all. Marinho and I have just come from Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, where we met a brilliant group of men and women from all over the world who are very excited about The Human, Earth Project, and want to help us take it to the next...

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Meet U Hla Boor

Day: 76Distance covered: 9,464 km (5,881 miles)Subjects found: 44Nothing in that village made any sense at all - it was like a journey down the rabbit hole, or up the river to find Kurtz. We were searching for three people I'd photographed there almost five years...

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A minor hitch

Day: 74Distance covered: 9,387 km (5,833 miles)Subjects found: 43The man was trying to convince us that all three of us would fit on his tiny motor scooter, backpacks and all. Marinho and I had hitch-hiked a hundred kilometres already that morning. We'd caught two...

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Meet Ma Yin Yin Aye, Ma Khine and Ma Hlaing

Day: 72Distance covered: 9,290km (5,773 miles)Subjects found: 43I've always taken my portraits using natural light - daylight. Each time that Marinho and I go searching for the people I photographed five years ago, it's a race against time: I need to find and...

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Meet Daw Hlaing, Ma Hlaing and Le Le Win

Day: 72Distance covered: 9,286 km (5,770 miles)Subjects found: 40Today I have a story from Myanmar, and a little surprise for you. For almost three weeks, Marinho and I made our base in a small market town in Shan State, Myanmar. The surrounding hills were peppered...

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Meet Pho Htay and Kyaw Zaw

Day: 65Distance covered: 9,045 km (5,620 miles)Subjects found: 33Our search for this boy, photographed at a village wedding almost five years ago, led us to a monastery an hour's walk to the south. Pho Htay is his name. He's eleven years old, a nephew of the groom,...

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Meet Soe Nge, Daw Ae and Oo Khin

Day: 65Distance covered: 9,040 km (5,617 miles)Subjects found: 31In the hills of Myanmar's Shan State, Marinho and I continued the hunt for guests from a village wedding which took place almost five years earlier, and discovered an unexpected connection between...

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Meet Yinn Ae, Moun, Zin Moe and Cho Cho

Day: 64Distance covered: 9,032 km (5,612 miles)Subjects found: 28Almost five years ago, my brother and I passed through a small Danu minority village in Myanmar's Shan State where preparations for a Buddhist wedding were taking place. The village had only two hundred...

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Meet Nga San

Day: 63Distance covered: 9,029 km (5,610 miles)Subjects found: 24We're back to break the silence, and we have so much to tell you. Marinho and I have spent the past two weeks trekking between minority villages in search of our final subjects here in Myanmar. We've...

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Meet Phyu Chaw and Ei Ei Nyein

Day: 60Distance covered: 8,745 km (5,434 miles)Subjects found: 23It was a day of false expectations.Until now, my memories of Asia have been remarkably accurate, and I remembered nothing good about this place. In fact, I’d scrawled WORST TOWN IN MYANMAR beside its...

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Meet Oakar, Ko, Htet, Kaung and Kaung

Day: 58Distance covered: 8,708 km (5,411 miles)Subjects found: 21In Myanmar, as in other Buddhist areas of Southeast Asia, young boys (and less commonly, girls) spend a week or more living in a monastery as part of their education. The time is spent studying,...

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Meet U Kyaw Moe

Day: 57Distance covered: 8,691 km (5,400 miles)Subjects found: 16The hundred portraits of The Human, Earth Project dictate all we do. They control where we go, how we spend our days, and what we discover along the way. Marinho and I can travel thousands of kilometres...

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Meet That Py Soe

Day: 56Distance covered: 8,669 km (5,387 miles)Subjects found: 15Almost five years ago, I played peek-a-boo around a tree with a young boy in a small rural village in central Myanmar. His  name is That Py Soe, and he's now eight years old. We found him at home with...

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Meet Lin and Aung San Oo

Day: 55Distance covered: 8,654 km (5,377 miles)Subjects found: 14Our search has led Marinho and I back to a small community attached to a major pilgrimage destination in central Myanmar.The two children I photographed here almost five years ago are no longer children....

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Meet Itueh

Day: 51Distance covered: 8,272 km (5,140 miles)Subjects found: 12Sometimes we search for days, and come up empty-handed. Today, though, our subject found us, before we'd even begun. Almost five years ago, my brother and I visited a small village in central Myanmar. We...

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Meet Wada

Day: 47 Distance covered: 7,602 km (4,724 miles) Subjects found: 11 I'm writing this from Myanmar (formerly Burma), one of the poorest countries we'll be visiting, and one that affects me deeply. For the first time in decades, it's possible for foreigners to reach the...

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Small folk

Day: 43 Distance covered: 6,665 km (4,141 miles) Subjects found: 10Disponibile anche in italianoIt's been two long weeks since we've found any of our subjects, yet I could write volumes on all we've seen and done. Today I have a more personal story I'd like...

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Trying times

Day: 37Distance covered: 5,831 km (3,623 miles) Subjects found: 10Disponibile anche in italianoAt last, after a relentless first month on the road, Marinho and I have a chance to breathe here in Phuket, Thailand. Rather than the beach relaxation we'd hoped for, we've...

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Shadows, echoes, and reflections: three stories

Day: 35Distance covered: 5,831 km (3,623 miles) Subjects found: 10 Disponibile anche in italiano It's easy to think of a human trafficking organisation as some monstrous vile octopus stretching its tentacles out from the shadows, or a network of crime lords hidden...

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Meet Dian

Day: 27Distance covered: 4,549 km (2,827 miles)Subjects found: 10 Disponibile anche in italiano Time is running short. Marinho and I have spent 54 of the past 65 hours on buses, bouncing through the Sumatra jungle where many of the roads are hardly deserving of the...

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Meet Chuchu and Ismet

Day: 23Distance covered: 2,748 km (1,707 miles)Subjects found: 9Disponibile anche in italianoThey told us it was impossible. All the locals here in Indonesia who saw my photograph of the man with the bicycle assured us he was homeless, a drifter. Of all our one...

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Meet Wandi

Day: 21Distance covered: 2,729 km (1,696 miles)Subjects found: 7Disponibile anche in italianoWe're three weeks deep, and have been putting a lot of road behind us in the past few days. Gone are the lush forests and broad sandy beaches of Bali and Lombok; in their...

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Meet Amak Juni

Day: 18 Distance covered: 2,134 km (1,326 miles) Subjects found: 6 Disponibile anche in italiano When Marinho and I began this journey two weeks ago, we stepped into darkness. We didn't know who we'd find, or what they'd tell us. We merely hoped our stories and theirs...

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Something special

Day: 15Distance covered: 1,182 km (734 miles) Subjects found: 6Disponibile anche in italiano(Amazing things have happened in the past twenty-four hours; I'll be writing about them as soon as I can. In the meantime, here's a piece I didn't have a chance to post...

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Meet Salni and Sitra

Day: 12Distance covered: 959 km (596 miles)Subjects found: 5Disponibile anche in italianoThe Human, Earth Project is a journey to discover one hundred human stories from across southern Asia; some of those stories are more touching than others. We're currently on the...

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Meet Dewa

Day: 10Distance covered: 827 km (513 miles)Subjects found: 5 (and a half!)Disponibile anche in italianoIn the past ten days we've had to deal with sickness, injury, lost and damaged equipment, language barriers, inflated prices (with the inevitable white man's "skin...

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Meet Mangku Gede

Day: 9Distance covered: 815 km (506 miles)Subjects found: 3Disponibile anche in italianoYesterday we located Mangku Gede Wayan Artha, the third of our subjects, and the easiest of all to find. Mangku Gede is a Hindu priest and, as it turns out, a very highly esteemed...

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Meet Bedul

Day: 7Distance covered: 591 km (367 miles)Subjects found: 2Disponibile anche in italianoWhen I first launched The Human, Earth Project in March, I identified ten people that I expected to be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to find. Six of those people were...

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A reason to believe

Day: 5 Distance covered: 502 km (312 miles) Subjects found: 1 Disponibile anche in italiano Today was the second day of the search for the five young men in this photograph. The day was spent chasing suspicions and rumours through the lost villages of rural Lombok,...

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Meet Wayan

Day: 1Distance covered: 127 km (79 miles)Subjects found: 1Disponibile anche in italianoNo amount of planning was able to prepare me for the reality of finally finding the boy that we were looking for. This one will be easy, we told ourselves. We'll find the well, and...

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Tsunami season

Day: 0 Distance covered: 40 km (25 miles) Subjects found: 0 Disponibile anche in italiano We build a barrier of fear around these unfamiliar places. We’re told to beware of the seafood, the salad, the water, the ice, local transport, thieves and hustlers. We prepare...

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Poetry

This is the end of the first phase of The Human, Earth Project.  In the past year, it's grown from a simple idea to a complex network of people all over the planet. I'd like to take a moment to thank everyone who has made it possible - those who contributed their...

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Black Rock City

The adventure is about to begin, and things are happening quickly... Last week I was invited to present a TED talk at Burning Man, a week-long festival in Nevada's Black Rock Desert. I gave a ten-minute presentation entitled 'The Art of Giving', about the ideas and...

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Best laid plans

We all know how busy life can be, and how easily our days are filled with a thousand little things. Before any journey, time becomes shorter than ever, as you wrap up one life and prepare for the new. Organising a six-month search for one hundred people across the...

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Feel flows

Last week I went rockclimbing with a friend on the cliffs behind Lake Louise. At the base of one of the more difficult pitches was a slender Asian man standing atop a small stone slab. He wasn't even looking at the wall of rock before him; he didn't have to. He...

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Breaking the language barriers!

We native English-speakers are lucky people. Despite constituting only four percent of the global population, thanks to the spread of the British empire, the success of the American post-war economy and the global popularity of English-language films and music, more...

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Meet Marinho and Patrice

After almost three months of late-night Skype conversations and messages sent back and forth across the globe discussing logistics, it's wonderful to be able to announce that The Human, Earth Project is no longer a 'me', but an 'us'. My background is primarily in...

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Good news

I was going to wait until I had some biographies and portfolios to share with you, but this news is simply too good to keep secret... I've just received confirmation that two cameramen, one French and one Italian, will be accompanying me on my adventures through Asia,...

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CBC news segment

Earlier this month, a news crew from CBC (Canada's national network) made the two-hour trek up from Calgary to shoot a news segment on The Human, Earth Project. They interviewed both myself and my brother Nick, who helped me put together the project website. As it was...

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The next step

The Human, Earth Project fundraising campaign is now over and, although we didn't reach the target, over three thousand dollars were raised, and I'm very thankful to all of you who contributed. Never having done anything like this before, I found it a fascinating...

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Changing lives

Last night I received a message from a schoolmate, who wasn't sure if this was "a humanitarian project, a commercial project, or a travel project". I can understand his confusion: it's a little of each, and yet something entirely different.Finding M was the...

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The Project takes shape, and grows…

It's incredible to see how something like The Human, Earth Project brings people together. This project was born from two unrelated concepts, to use a collection of portraits to try and help a friend in trouble. It has since been expanding in all directions, as people...

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M’s disappearance

In the past few days I've heard some very interesting news, including the best information I've yet received on M's disappearance.I've been in touch with an English girl who was living in Vietnam when M was taken, and conducted some investigations of her own. This is...

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The logistics of the Project

A few of you have looked at the logistics of The Human, Earth Project, and have been curious to know how it's even possible.I've given myself 180 days to find one hundred people - that is, I have an average of 1.8 days to find each one, which really isn't a lot of...

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Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation

As you might imagine, I've been receiving a lot of messages over the past week. Many of them have been extraordinary, but none of them have affected me like one I received two days ago. It was sent by a stranger, out of the blue, and simply said that M has been safely...

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New connections

It's been less than a week since I launched The Human, Earth Project. I was a little nervous in the beginning, because I've never done anything like this before, and didn't know what would happen, but over the past six days I've had a huge outpouring of support via...

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The Project is born

Wow...It's been less than twenty-four hours since I let people know about The Human, Earth Project, and it's been amazing to see so many positive messages from all over the world, and so many people getting excited about the idea. I hope you've all had a chance to...

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