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It’s been already two weeks since the amazing Travel Storytelling Festival took place but its imprint still lingers. Sylvie Farr and Caroline Weiler organised a one of a kind festival. During four days, 45 storytellers shared their journey experiences, gave talks on different ways to travel and inspired us with their courage, passion, challenges and discoveries. I loved the variety of topics and perspectives. It was so enriching. There were tales of a girl who travels in a wheelchair. Stories of a broken heart and found purpose in Bali. People living off their journeys through their photographic talents. The bestjobbers’ anecdotes from their days in Australia. Social projects across the globe. Concerts and workshops punctuated the festival too, in between talks. Yoga classes, meditation sessions, a rad chill corner and yummy treats from PinPon and others.

If I had to pick two things that inspired me most during those intense and merry four days it would have to be TOMS and A world of Football (AWOF).

TOMS is a brand selling shoes, eyewear and bags. And although I find their models to be pretty rad that’s not what amazed me the most. It was their social commitment, especially that of Blake Mycoskie, its founder. TOMS humble beginnings happened unintentionally. While traveling in Argentina in 2006, Blake witnessed the hardships faced by children growing up without shoes. His solution to the problem was simple, yet revolutionary: to create a for-profit business that was sustainable and not reliant on donations. Blake’s vision soon turned into the simple business idea that provided the powerful foundation for TOMS. Their One for One project means that for every pair you purchase, a pair of shoes is given to a child in need. Since 2006, more than 60 million pairs have been given in about 80 countries. For every pair of eyewear purchased, TOMS helps give sight to a person in need. They foster access to water, help provide safe births and fight against bullying. For real. This type of philantropy within a successful company is so inspiring to me. It gives me hope to believe a better tomorrow is possible. But TOMS’ giving goes way beyond One for One. I think it deserves a post all to itself…

A world of Football. I never thought I’d be so moved by anything related to football… And yet. Through a series of extraordinary documentaries, AWOF Association takes you on a journey across the planet to witness the social power of the game. From Africa to Asia, from the Middle East to South America, football has changed the lives of men and women. At the TSF, I was moved by AWOF’s project in Israel and Palestine, where girls from both sides met on the field and played football in mixed teams. Neither had met a girl from the “other side” before and shooting ball and laughing on the pitch sure helped demistify the enemy myths. Another AWOF project in South Africa helped children get HIV tests and treatment when necessary. In India, in a region with very high rates of teenage marriage, girls who signed up to the football programme were safe from marriage until 18 and received training as ophmalmologists -quite useful in an area with a lot of cataracts cases. A wonderful association bringing out the human side of football. Something often forgotten with the big bucks and corruption it sometimes involves…

I’ll tell you this: TSF was a big success and I think it’s safe to say we all left with a big case of wanderlust!!

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