I was in the jungles of Sumatra when the idea to start this blog came about. The purpose of my visit was to assist an orphaned elephant calf named Bona, and throughout my journey I had formed some unexpected yet unforgettable friendships. One of which, Mayhudin, a Mahout at the elephant camp. Mayhudin lived in the village across the river, engulfed in the palm oil industry. An unstoppable industry that gave these local villagers a way of life while having devastating impacts on the natural environment. Mayhudin was part of a rare few who went against the grain. Although, like everybody else, he owned a small pocket of plantation, he had devoted his life to caring for the elephants suffering at the hands of this very industry. Mayhudin had little, living below the poverty line. And yet he seemed to have this permanent smile and a contagious laugh that could light up an entire room. We came from very different worlds, and yet we connected over our love of the elephants and passion for nature.
One day, I had given Mayhudin a collection of music from my computer. Literally hundreds of songs. I didn’t realise but he had gone home that night and listened to all of it and chosen a playlist of his own full of his favourite songs (mostly Phil Colins). He told me that everyone in his village was asking him “What is this music?” and also mentioned that “My husband was hungry for me!” I asked him between laughs what he meant, and later realised he was trying to say that his wife was angry with him that she didn’t understand the English lyrics in the new music he was playing. He must have gone to town with it!
At breakfast the next morning he pulled out a speaker and played through the list of his favourites. I was all choked up when the first song came on, it was Paul Kelly’s ‘From Little Things Big Things Grow’. Of all songs to choose. I had tears running down my face, sitting in the kitchen, overlooking the pristine jungle as the fog lifted over the treeline, with Bona and Aswita in front of us and sharing such an enjoyable time with these people, listening to a song that summed this whole experience up for me so perfectly. From little things big things grow indeed! Such small things like giving him a collection of songs, had brought Mayhudin such joy. And such small things he, and a few others were doing to protect this last remaining habitat for elephants was really making a difference. I was really happy in that moment, sitting with my little mate, I wished I could have bottled it.
I dedicated this blog to people like Mayhudin, whose seemingly small acts of kindness are actually the building blocks of something bigger. Everyday people, who with no accolades, are building projects out of pure passion and enthusiasm. These are the projects that have genuine wings, and the compassion that is seemingly contagious.
This blog is also dedicated to telling the stories of those who cannot speak for themselves. The animals whose amazing stories of suffering and survival have made them powerful ambassadors of their species. Their suffering has not been in vain. Their stories are their hope for their future survival on this planet.
I hope that everyone can take something away from finding out about these stories. The fact is, it doesn’t take a whole lot of money to do something for the greater good of this planet. As you will see, it’s those little things that are paving the way for change. Anything is possible with passion and enthusiasm.