Tag Archives: travel

The Kindness Diaries – Inspiring kindness, giving hope, sharing love, oceans apart.

Courtesy of http://www.leonlogothetis.com

” The world is filled with travelers. Some travel by force, some by choice. But for some of us, it is a calling. At the heart of this brotherhood is the desire to connect, find community and a place to belong. And every single connection made, makes the world a little better because as Mark Twain put it “travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindness. Charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in on a little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime” “

Leon Logothetis – the Kindness Diaries
https://leonlogothetis.com/

Television is really not my thing. Give me books, books, books and yes please, even more books! Every now and then however, when I need to take a break from reading, writing or studying, I flick through channels and Netflix categories looking for something worthy of my time.

I don’t mean this in a proud, derogatory way, please do not misunderstand. What I am trying to say is that I channel my focus and time into whatever feels productive, not wanting to miss a moment, not wanting to waste an opportunity. So if I am going to watch something, it needs to be good, impactful, powerful. It needs to leave me with something to ponder, reflect on and from which I can grow.

https://leonlogothetis.com/

The Kindness Diaries is such a program. I watched series 1 a few months ago. I was so impressed by it that I set everything aside to watch almost the entire series back to back. As Leon set off on his trusted canary yellow motorbike (with side car) from Hollywood, L.A, I journeyed with him. Together, we crossed through the United States of America, Europe, India, Cambodia, Vietnam, Canada and back to Hollywood.

https://leonlogothetis.com/

Relying entirely on the kindness of strangers to feed him, put petrol in Kindness One, and give him a bed or sofa for the night, Leon was gifted an inside view to the lives of the strangers who offered kindness. Each one with their story to tell. Their own journey of hope and reason for offering kindness to a stranger. I laughed. I cried. I paused episodes and contemplated in silence. Each episode – each story left a mark on my heart and filled it with fresh motivation, inspiration and hope.

But there is something more. Leon does not only receive kindness. He also gives it. Every now and then, when he meets someone who has profoundly touched his heart, who has given out of their lack, Leon gives them a gift. It may be a home to get them off the streets, funding a charity, a dream holiday, and much more.

https://leonlogothetis.com/

In series 2, Leon embarks on another journey, this time with a canary yellow VW beetle with no modifications, heating or power steering. Kindness 2 takes him through Canada, Alaska, America, Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Peru, eventually ending in Argentina.

https://leonlogothetis.com/

Listening to their stories, Leon connects. Sometimes, like in the case of Rena who rescues stray dogs in Colombia, the story is a bit too close to home. Moved to tears, Leon shares with Rena that his own dog Winston was the one who taught him about love. Winnie loved him unconditionally and marked Leon’s life profoundly.

Winnie with Leon. https://leonlogothetis.com/

Rena shares the story of her and her siblings’ abandonment by their mother and how they were treated like dogs by their father. It caused her to commit her life to rescuing and re homing stray dogs. Rena and Leon shared a common thread, a deep connection, visible in their interaction, Rena, an elderly lady who hugs him like a wise, loving grandmother and prays a blessing in his life. Leon in turn, shares with her the real reason for his travels. To find kind, selfless strangers who are in need of his help. And help he does, by funding the rescue and rehabilitation of 100 stray dogs for Rena. Her joy is magnetic.

Rena who rescues the stray dogs of her region in Colombia. https://leonlogothetis.com/

“We are all travelers in one sense or another but what matters between life and death is our journey. But while we are here, there is an opportunity for us to connect in ways great and small, to experience the richness of cultures not our own, and thereby, enriching our own journeys as we travel this road on this ultimate adventure we call life”

Leon Logothetis.
https://leonlogothetis.com/

Each episode in series 2 is connected to a particular theme, each is a gift. We see the gift of faith, community, purpose, home, food, shelter, hope, Winnie love, connection, knowledge, travel, friendship and of course kindness.

” As humans we don’t control the circumstances of our birth, but our lives can be changed by the decisions we make. Some people spend their lives taking while others spend their lives giving. And while each can leave their mark on history, ask yourself for your own life and for the legacy you will leave behind what story are you trying to tell?”

Leon Logothetis

We also learn of atrocities and meet people who are battling insane red tape regulations to reunite with families across oceans. This series is not a travel documentary. It is so much more.

When Leon asks two paramedics why they are travelling around the world, their reply is simple yet heartrending. “So that we don’t have any regrets’. They explain that because of their job they experienced conversations with the dying. On many occasions they were told their regret was not seeing more of the world and not having a family.

https://leonlogothetis.com/

A deported Mexican father, is staying on the border in a shack, planning his third swimming attempt to cross to the USA and be reunited with his wife and child. Each time, he is caught by the coast guard and sent back. Many drown, he has survived twice and is not stopping until he arrives or dies. Sobering.

When Leon travels through postcard perfect images, breathtaking views and surreal adventures, we are faced with stark reminders of the darkness within us when kindness or love is absent. He visits a plantation outside Lima, a stunning property fit for a holiday brochure. Yet underneath, in the basement, its dark narrow terrifying maze of catacombs tells of a slave trade 400 years ago and the shocking truth of how they lived here. Above ground, beauty, joy, fresh air. Below, desperation, stench, death.

But then he enters Urumbamba and surprises an old friend named Duska. Duska, a missionary who has devoted her life to caring for the orphans of her community, met Leon when he volunteered at the orphanage in his late teens. Duska was one of the first people in Leon’s life who showed him what kindness is. Before leaving, he pays for the orphanage and school to be extended.

” The construction of a person is similar to the construction of a building. Each begins with a clean slate on a foundation built by others and sometimes the external facade can hide an ugly truth or fail to show true worth. Eventually, people and buildings are left on their own to brace the elements of the world, but how well each holds up to those forces is always determined by the care taken when the foundation was laid. “

Leon Logothetis

In Costa Rica he meets Father Sergio who runs Espirito de Santo, a mission to feed his community’s poor and destitute of all ages. Leon gives him a gift to help feed even more children before he remarks. “My gift made one day easier for the children in need, but I guess every day we are given is a gift and a chance for rebirth, redemption or reinvention”.

https://leonlogothetis.com/

There is much more to this series than I can do it justice in this blog. I would recommend you watch it for yourself, with your friends, with your children. Inspire the younger generation to look for opportunities to make a difference. If they dream of travelling, they can travel in a way that is not only kind to our planet, but kind to its inhabitants too. They can live out their adventures by making a difference to the world around them, by giving their own gift of hope.

” So, as my story comes to an end, another story, your story may be just beginning. And on this journey, I’ve been inspired by other people’s kindness, day in, day out. It’s changed me. Because truly the greatest gift that we have to give another human being, is ourselves. You are the final gift. Because how you show up in the world, it matters. It matters profoundly. We all have the power to change the world. Because to change the world, all you need to do, is change one life. And the most beautiful, the most profound way to change one life simply, is to be kind. So my challenge is simple. the final gift of the kindness diaries is for you to go out into the world and give of yourself, be kind, share love and have as much fun along the way as you can”

Leon Logothetis

Travel purposefully. Make a difference to the communities you visit.

photo from https://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/theintrepidfoundation/post/will-you-step-up-for-porters-rights

We live in an age when travel is a normal part of life. Catching a plane is almost as easy as catching a train. The world has become more accessible and so has the need for more unique and exciting experiences.

Photo by Fancycrave.com from Pexels

I’d like to think that we make conscious decisions every day. Decisions that impact others around us, the environment, wildlife, communities. Whether it is avoiding slave labour or plastic packaging in the products we purchase, or adopting a pet from a shelter instead of funding puppy farms, I believe we are all trying to live life with more awareness of the consequences of our decisions and choices.

photo credit pexels

This habit can extend to travel. Indeed, for many travelers, making a difference to the communities they visit, is a matter of priority, to others not so. Some want to fly somewhere, have a great time, leave their rubbish, and come home.

But for others, contributing to the lives of the locals, is of importance. Simple decisions can make a lasting impact to the communities we visit. You can have a wonderful holiday and make a difference to the country or community you visit. There are places that count heavily on tourism sustaining them, although sadly this also comes at a cost. Manipulation, corruption and greed, lead to taking advantage of the vulnerable, profiting from the victims of society. You can end up inadvertently contributing to slave labour, fake charities and poverty. Orphanage tourism is thriving in many poor countries.

Photo by Dazzle Jam from Pexels

I wanted to use my blog to highlight some of the ways in which you can help and to warn of some of the ways you can get drawn into unwittingly making things worse.

Below are some ideas to make a difference to the places you visit, but don’t stay here on my blog, go and search for yourself too. Grab pen and paper and let the ideas flow!

Photo by Leah Kelley from Pexels

Volunteer with a reputable organisation to help in a wildlife reserve, children’s home, or environmental project. This article by Frommer’s has some fabulous ideas.

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

Teach or use a skill. Look for local organisations (always try to make sure they are genuine) who need some help. It could be teaching English to local kids or adults who need a bit of pronunciation help, or doing some plastering or repairs in poor homes. If you are a musician, entertainer or children’s performer, you can visit a hospital, hospice, nursing home or orphanage and bring some cheer. Make sure you have followed local protocol and legal procedures. Ensure that you are not causing more harm than good for example in the way you present something that back in your home country would be harmless. Take into account local religious and cultural traditions, taboo subjects and those suffering from trauma. Innocent remarks can reawaken memories of abuse, war and suffering.

photo by pixabay

Don’t fund cruelty or exploitation. Use your eyes and logic to consider carefully what you are about to indulge in. Performing animals in streets have usually been mistreated, beaten to submission or are being drugged to allow tourists to take photographs with them. Elephant rides are popular but how have they been trained? Donkey rides up perilous mountains may look fun but are those donkeys well taken care of? Are they being rested, forced to carry more weight than they should, do they have sores on their bodies? Are there unusual items on menus for novelty value that cause damage to oceans or wildlife? Are souvenirs damaging to local oceans or wildlife? Ivory objects are made from the ivory tooth of slaughtered elephants, natural sponges can be cultivated from oceans depriving fish of natural shelter. Swimming with turtles or dolphins may be the dream of a lifetime but at what cost? Ask yourself the questions and do your research.

Photo by kelly lacy from Pexels

Volunteer through reputable charities and organisations which will know how best to use your skills. Even if you don’t feel that you have any specific skills, being available to help can make a huge difference. Simple admin, cleaning, helping in a kitchen, organisation, etc, can contribute to organisations and projects in a worthwhile way. The charity Mercy Ships ran a hospital ship providing medical care to the impoverished in Africa. Skilled or unskilled volunteers who can commit to a minimum of 3 months can help in many ways including serving meals, cleaning, preparing food, processing patient information, sitting with the sick to provide comfort and encouragement. As long as you are willing, there is a way to help. This is an excellent thorough article again from Frommer’s with plenty of ideas and organisations you can contact for further information.

https://www.facebook.com/mercyshipsuk/

Take part in a race. Canada based husband and wife team Dave and Deb took part in The Tour d’Afrique cycling race to raise awareness of the work of Plan Canada, a charity that helps communities all over the world through the individual sponsorship of children. You can read about their trip here and explore their blog for more information.

https://www.facebook.com/PlanCanada/

If you love running and marathons are your thing, target some destinations where you can run a marathon and raise funds for a worthy cause.

Photo by RUN 4 FFWPU from Pexels

Use your skills and money back at home to spread awareness and raise funds for the communities that impacted you while traveling. Involve your social media network, personal friends, your children’s school or home educating community, your colleagues and local community. Write about what you saw and what others can do. You may not be able to physically do something but one of the people who reads what you have written, may be inspired to take up the mantle.

photo by pixabay

SANFAN. A friend who was like a father figure to me and who passed away recently, used to say ” SANFAN – See a need, fill a need” He lived his life with that motto. Wherever there was a need, Dave would do whatever he could to fill it. He was a true and humbling inspiration to me.

Recently, my friend Ije who lives locally to me in the U.K, became involved in helping an orphanage in Nigeria. Her parents who live there, had visited the orphanage and were shocked at the poverty and lack of food, clothing and resources. Orphans, traumatised from witnessing the murders of their parents by Boko Haram, have been left at this couple’s home and before they knew it they had 50 children living with them. Not being able to turn any away, meant having no resources to care for them.

Ije Mack from Kairos Initiative on a video call with Cornerstone orphanage in Nigeria. On the left is Anthony a boy with deformed legs who she hopes to help through surgery. His two brothers with the same condition are in two different camps for displaced war victims.

Without a second thought my friend Ije, started to pull together resources and used her social media network to ask friends in the UK to contribute children’s clothing and shoes they no longer needed. From that one action, within weeks, she has set up a registered charity, sent an enormous shipment of clothes, shoes and books and raised enough money to feed the children fresh, nutritious food for the next few months. And this is just the beginning. Her charity will now take care of the orphanage and ensure that those children never go hungry again, are taken care of, nurtured, loved and educated to stand proudly in their community and have a bright future. One working mother in a small town in North West England who saw a need and filled it. If you feel inspired to support her this is her website.

http://thekairosinitiative.org/

Donate. Budget into your holiday plan, a donation to a worthy cause in the country you are visiting. This may take shape in the form of a direct financial donation to a genuine organisation making a difference there. Alternatively, it may mean using the money to purchase a piece of much needed equipment like a sewing machine, chickens that produce eggs for a poor family, baby clothes for a women’s shelter, food for a local food bank, art supplies for a children’s home.

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

Sponsorship. You are probably well acquainted with the many organisations that help communities through the sponsorship of children. If you are impacted by a country you have visited and want to make a longer lasting difference, you can sponsor a child. The money you give will support the child and their family, educate the child and give them hope for the future. Usually, you will receive a letter from your sponsored child once or twice a year with their news and you can write back. For £20-£40 per month, you can change the life of one child in our world. How awesome is that?

Photo by Di Lewis from Pexels

Just do something. If your heart is willing to do something, then you will find what that something is for you. Make your travel count for something more, leave a lasting impact, a legacy however big or small, every drop counts to fill an ocean.

New beginnings

Every new beginning must start with an action.

This may seem obvious but truly how often have we come up with an idea, made a decision to start something new only to sit on it for months or even years.

Procrastination and false starts have been part of my story.

Today, however, I turn the page and take a step towards another start. This blog. What’s different this time? This time I am being myself. This time, I am taking an even bolder step to write as I do from the heart through stories.

I love stories. And I love to travel. In the last 22 years, I have moved 18 times.

Life is a journey, that is true and my journey has taken place mostly between two places. The Wirral Peninsula in England and Southern Cyprus. Two oceans separate my two homes, a piece of my heart in each, so here, I begin a new way of navigating this journey by inviting you into my world to meet the people and experience the places that hold such a special place in my soul.