From left to right, Anna and Tom, with fellow Ubuntu networkers, Eduardo and his wife Joana from Brazil

From left to right, Anna and Tom, with fellow Ubuntu networkers, Eduardo and his wife Joana from Brazil

A new global project has been launched as part of a bid to bring communities together and reduce conflict.

This mammoth project has not been launched by some government organisation or an NGO, but by Anna and Tom – a couple dedicated to making a difference in the world.

The Ubuntu project is all about encouraging people to celebrate their differences and recognising the common traits that bring us all together.

Anna Mortenson 31 and Tom Davies 30 are currently in the process of creating a film which will feature stories from men, women and children all over the globe.

They have travelled all over world, conducting interviews with diverse communities and individuals whose voices are often sidelined and marginalised by society.

Anna is a former psychologist, and counsellor who has given up her career in favour of something infinitely more satisfying – creating a project that encourages people to unite and come together, rather than engage in violence and destruction.

A couple of years after she first came up with the idea for the project, she met Tom who then helped her to edit the documentary and travelled the world with her.

Their story is one which speaks of romance, humanitarianism and dedication. Despite having very limited resources or money available to them, they were able to raise enough money through crowdfunding to begin their adventure and give some of the most marginalised people in the world, a voice.

Vitoria has lived in a favela in Brazil. She has given a different perspective of life inside the Favela's than is often portrayed

Vitoria has lived in a favela in Brazil. She has given a different perspective of life inside the Favela’s than is often portrayed

The plan is to get it aired on TV in Australia – where Anna is from – and in film festivals and theatres in both the UK and Australia.

However the project is not just limited to documentaries and film festivals.

They also plan to take it into schools and produce shorter films for educational purposes.

The aim is to encourage children to recognise their shared humanity from a very early age and encourage people to care more about their local communities – and eachother.

The couple piloted a shorter version of the film a few years ago based on interviews they conducted in Melbourne which was picked up by one of the Australian national universities for their core curriculum subjects.

Their journey has been inspired by the South African philosophy of Ubuntu, meaning “I am who I am because of who we all are.”

Commenting on the project, Anna told the Akashic Times: “The whole purpose is to make us learn, appreciate connect and care more about people in our global community. It is also about celebrating our differences so that we know more about eachother. For example, there are alot of conflicts in the world because of religion and not understanding eachother’s view.

“When you actually just have a conversation and learn more about someone else who is quite different, it might not be that you think that they are the same, but it might lead to a bit more understanding and hopefully less conflict and prejudice. That is another angle which we are trying to achieve with the project as well.”

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So how does the documentary help to achieve that? Anna said that by featuring the personal stories of people who are caught up in events and difficult situations all over the world, it encourages people to have more empathy and understanding for their fellow man.

She added: “There are studies showing that the more you can relate to someone’s story, the more likely you are to go to their aid. So there were examples of earthquakes, tsunamis and natural disasters that affected thousands of people.

“But the research found that when the news stories said 40,000 people had been killed, psychologically that is too overwhelming for people and it was not anything they found they could make any kind of personal contribution to.

“However when there was a personal story, even if it was just a person’s name, photo and age, it stopped being just a nameless number and people felt more compelled to care about what that person’s life was like and made people want to give more.”

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Tom says that the most interesting part of the journey has been meeting people from different walks of life and hearing their stories.

In particular, he was struck by the wisdom and life experiences of some of the young people he has met.

He said: “We spoke to a girl in Nepal who was 13 and she spoke with such wisdom. Later, we also spoke to a guy in Kenya who was 15 and amazingly eloquent. Both had so many ideas about the planet and were really passionate about the world in which they live. They also broke down the stereotype of teenagers being moody.”

Anna added that the common themes among both youngsters, was the importance of education.

She explained: “One of our questions was, ‘what do you think the world needs more of’?

The girl from Nepal – Tanya – said that we don’t need anything else, we have everything that we need – what matters is how we use it. We thought it was such a beautiful answer.

When we asked Dixon, the 15 year old boy from Kenya, whether the world needs more money, he told us that the world doesn’t need more money, we have enough money. It just needs more education and people to learn and understand more. He comes from quite a difficult background and had to leave home at the age of 8 because of domestic violence. He’s had to grow up pretty quickly. His overall message was that the more people learn and understand, the less likely they are to act out with violence or anger.”

However, the project has not been without its challenges, and one of the major obstacles has been time. The number of people with powerful and inspirational stories to tell has sometimes been so great, that they simply did not have the capacity to interview them all and form meaningful relationships with people to the extent they would have liked.

Anna explained: “We are going to change things up over the next three months so that we are moving less frequently and hopefully have alot more time to spend in a place because the challenge is in making sure we are having much more authentic connections with people and capturing their story holistically.”

The project is ongoing, and they are hoping to release it in March next year.

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One Comment

  1. Anna Mortensen says:
    0
    Thank you for this Janine, For some reason, I only just saw this now. Thank you! :)

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