Lost in Asia

Just a short message to say that I haven’t been deliberately slack at keeping the ol’ blog up to date, but I’ve been writing in my other blog during the past month and a bit as I’ve been prepping for and traveling in SE Asia for the documentary I’ve been filming. The film is called Street Dreams and deals with the problems of human trafficking and the child sex trade due to poverty. We’ve just got back and there are many things I can write in here which directly correspond to my interests in the environment, climate and sustainability so I’ll be sure to get to that soon when I’ve had a chance to proces what I’ve seen and experienced on the trip! So, Stay Tuned! 🙂

Being poor is good practice

Boy have I been cash-strapped of late; work has been dribbling in at a pace that is slower than my consumption no matter how much I try to make that output as small as possible. There’s some work on the horizon but it’s always just at arm’s reach when I need it in close. Admittedly though, it has been a good challenge and excellent practice at being stingy, creative and disciplined.

The greatest part of my discipline comes into play when it comes to my credit card; it is a necessary evil as I have a great deal of automatic payments that come from it, which is rather thankful as I would be scrambling much more otherwise. However, I have used it exceedingly rarely when it comes to anything that is not a necessity (ie. going out to restaurants, “impulse” buys, “stuff”) which I find is my biggest success during this period of moneylessness. The challenge of course is to maintain this stingy behavior when the cash does start rolling in, and for that I see this period as great practice. For example, I know there are a couple of job-related things coming up that I could use some new gear for, but I have been resisting and looking at DIY alternatives that I can build for much less in some cases. When I have the money, I have to resist just going out and buying those things new and keep on the DIY way of thinking.

Being stingy is actually quite satisfying if it is confined to personal wants and desires but not relegating yourself to never going outside or being sociable. I’ve been guilty of the latter in the past, saying “oh, I can’t go visit friends cuz they’ll all just want to go out and spend money so I may as well just stay at home.” Luckily, I now have a lot more like-minded friends when it comes to living simply and saving money, so it’s easy to just hang out at someone’s place or do something with the deliberate intent on not spending money. My thrifty/stingy attitude extends to groceries and just getting the basics (while trying to remain healthy), driving less and taking the bus or walking more, scraping every last little bit of food from a jar/bottle/box and being more liberal with use-by dates (while not giving myself food-poisoning!). I’m only drinking cask wine and looking for 2-for-1 deals on big boxes which thankfully come along regularly (if I have nothing else, at least I have my grog!). I’m also conscious of things like excess toilet-paper usage, excess shampoo and toothpaste usage, wearing more clothes instead of turning on the heat (it’s been very cold in this house just lately) and feeding the dog slightly smaller portions of bulk-bought food to save a bit (no, I am not under-feeding my beloved pup!)

Creatively, I am managing to look at the cupboard and use what I see rather than just what I want (I know, a lot of my thoughts have to do with food! I do love my food…). This naturally results in eating a lot of rice-based dishes (from my 10kg sack of rice persistently offering itself to me from the corner of my kitchen); a surprisingly tasty dish is just steamed rice, a tin of chili-infused salmon or tuna, some green veg like zucchini or bok choy, and a bit of soy & sweet chili sauce. That’s about $2.50 for a big, tummy-filling bowl, and is pretty healthy too. In addition to food, I am rotating my clothing usage more consciously to get maximum wear requiring minimal washing frequency.

Anyway, tightening the old belt, as they used to say, is not so bad. I like having a few extra frills to make life a little less banal but it really is a good challenge to deprive yourself every once in a while, even if you aren’t financially hard-up. I reckon everyone should sacrifice something regularly if only to prove to yourself that you can, plus maybe save a bit of money/be healthier in the process. It also makes you appreciate all those little things that we all love in life that you tend to take for granted!

Human trafficking and the flesh trade

As a determined proponent for ethical living, I try to do my part in a couple of ways: charitable monthly donations to various groups but also in film-making, my career and passion.

For a couple of years, the film-making didn’t have a particular focus; I was just interested in the medium and wanted to tell stories. I’ve gradually become more visually oriented and am just as keen to shoot the story as to tell it. But the focus of the content has become clearer as I’ve been working more with care-givers, support agencies, churches and disadvantaged people; I see that I am making films about compassion. And empowerment. And vulnerability, empathy, caring, people-over-profits, hope and love. It’s very encouraging to have your eyes opened to ALL the people of this world, not just my immediate community or country, as there are so many amazing stories and people out there. There’s a lot of challenging and often sad stuff that comes with that, but in every struggle, there’s a voice to be heard, someone who has something important to share, and I feel like it’s my responsibility to be listening carefully.

Ethical living in the respect of how we live here (in Australia, in the western world) often comes down to how we spend our money and the footprint that we are leaving on this planet. However, sometimes ethical living needs to be more about the welfare of people afar due to the inequities and injustices that are being done to them as a result of things that aren’t as obvious. Two of those things is human trafficking and international flesh trading. This has become the topic of a documentary that my film partner Jason and I want to shoot for our company Red Earth Films. The film is going to be called Street Dreams.

There are literally millions of children and women (mostly) who are virtually (and sometimes, literally) enslaved as workers in many parts of the world, and often this “work” is in the sex industry. The primary reason for wanted to provide greater exposure for this fact in our film is less because of what they are doing, but how they’ve come to be there. Through an endless cycle of poverty and abuse, these women are forced as children to enter a world where they are prostituting themselves to support their often broken family, broken due to prior abuse but not perpetuated from this line of work selling sex to violent and abusive customers. Often these women (or girls) were raped early on, then are shamed in their community and so feel compelled to, if nothing else, support their family financially as they are now outed for religious or strict cultural reasons. This is very briefly covering only a small part of the problem as there are also the issues of international exploitation, corrupt and seedy lawmakers, unethical and amoral behavior, outdated and unfair male dominance and so much more.

However, our film aims to fuel hope for these girls. They don’t need to feel shame and resort to the sex trade. Nor must they feel that this will go on forever; with small NGOs and individuals out helping girls become educated, trained in other areas and having their self-confidence restored, there is a great deal of action on the ground that provides a reason for hopefulness. We aim to explore the people who are providing this hopeful light as well as exploring what personal dreams and ambitions the girls have as they go down the road to potential rehabilitation.Seeing them overcome the inequities of their world and rise above it would be an amazing thing to see and capture in our story.

We’re very excited about this project and are currently fundraising to be able to visit South-East Asia to shoot the film in a couple of months. If this sounds interesting to you, please visit our website for more info. We feel it’s an important story to tell and everyone is better off when injustices like this are exposed and action is taken.