Those who take their first steps to realize something big are leaving footprints worth a closer look.
I found some of them as I traveled the world and learned about their visions, their challenges, their first steps.
And told their stories here to inspire you to take your own.
Eddy tells a story about living in harmony with nature. Due to his close relationship with nature and his lifelong dedication to learning and observation, Eddy discovered a certain type of worm. They eat styrofoam and turn it into organic soil and thus have the potential to solve one of the biggest environmental issues of our time.
Being raised in the local communities of Cameroon, Elisa created her deep connection to nature at an early stage. After her mother died, this connection lead to a deep understanding and a grand vision. To create and sell healthy skincare and use this money to feed the poor by teaching them organic ways of living. A story that inspires to shoot for the stars.
In the Peruvian Andes at around 3200 meters above sea level, climate conditions make for one of the most challenging places to farm on earth. Poor local communities try hard to make a living there. Marco Piñatelli discovered, that there is some precious moss that grows in front of their doors. He started exporting it and supports these communities with his Inkamoss.
Guillermo Zarate started his first business with 21 – and failed. He learned so much about his field though, that today he calls this experience “the most encouraging education of my life”. His second business became a great success. With “Cuestionarix”, Guillermo prepares 80.000 young people every year for their entrance tests at university – and revolutionizes Ecuador’s education system.
Having spent the majority of his childhood in nature, José Marin Jarrin got attracted to all its beauty. That’s what made him become a marine biologist, who dedicates his career to conserving wildlife on the Galápagos Islands and protecting our environment. Today he is science coordinator at the worldwide acknowledged Charles Darwin Foundation and helps tourists building awareness for nature.
An earthquake in Ecuador killed over 650 people last year. In Luis’ small village, 40 houses were destroyed. As the community president with a “passion to help people”, he instantly organized the reconstruction with bamboo houses. Crafting furniture and working on a better future for all is what Luis Coronado spends his time with today.
After Florie, Malorie and Barbara graduated in their communication studies, they wanted to create value with their skills and passions. They founded “The Local Shakers” in November 2016 and started their journey through South America. The mission: Search, find and spotlight people with projects that make the world a better place.
Glen founded his Mingahouse to build bridges between people. Volunteers from abroad help the local communities and take away unique experiences. He finds matches between problems and solutions and creates win-win-situations. Follow me to Chinchiná/Colombia and explore a project that makes a huge impact on many people’s lives.
Ramiro is a person of a rare kind. He dedicated his whole life to helping others. It’s been 36 years ago that he founded his elderly home in Chinchiná/Colombia and started picking up homeless people from the street to care for them. Regardless the fact that he doesn’t have much either. And so he gives what he has. His greatest fear and his biggest dream reveal touching details of an impressive man.
Ana learned the profession of a midwife for seven years in London. When she returned to Colombia, she realized, how precarious the maternity system here is. She took her first steps on a long road: making Colombia’s maternity services safe, accessible for all women and provided with all appropriate respect to the women and their families.
Noah Debonis is an independent film maker from Los Angeles. He came to Colombia with a mission: Producing a documentary about the reintegration of ex-FARC-combatants back into Colombia’s society – one of the biggest challenges the country faces nowadays and a story that is hard to tell. Learn how Noah’s passion and the belief in his vision keeps him going.
This lady gives away organic food for free and teaches people how to grow their own. The volunteering-platform Workaway brought me together with Marlyn. For one week I stayed at her organic farm in the Colombian highlands, repaired a sheep fence, built a window out of whisky bottles and – no joke – donkey shit. And learned about Marlyn’s project she is creating with great enthusiasm.
Christian had an incredibly well paid job producing TV-Shows in Hollywood. In 2016 he changed his life radically: „I got tired of Hollywood. My job didn’t satisfy me anymore.“ So he quit to do something more meaningful. He went traveling, found his passion in the Spanish language and opened up his Blink Spanish School in Medellín. Christian sets an inspiring example for everybody who seeks more purpose in life.
Never has he ever been able to walk. His muscular dystrophy forced Nicolás into his wheelchair since the age of 14. And yet there is a certain joy and happiness in his attitude that I have rarely found in other people. His grand vision mentally gives him the strength he lacks in his body, the bigger picture of his life makes him believe in himself. This is a truly inspiring footprint with a valuable truth for everyone of us. It was the birthday gift he gave me without even knowing – I’m happy to pass it on to you.
„I’m having dinner alone over there. Do you mind if I join your table?“ With these words Sara opened the door to one of the most interesting conversations I’ve had on my trip so far. She told me her inspiring story about conflict, engagement and how to follow a vision for peace when half of Colombia doesn’t believe in it.
When Alan and I met for the first time, we connected instantly. He traveled Europe, surfed my couch for five weeks and not only witnessed the very beginnings of Thousand First Steps, but also played an important role in the creative processes. His passion for music, his vision of a better world and his willpower of taking first steps make his footprint a truly inspiring one.
Martin Løken started this world trip with me in November 2016. Furthermore, he was a great inspiration beforehand to get going with Thousand First Steps. Without him, this project would not exist in that way. Shortly after we started off in Austria, Martin got elected by the green party in Norway to run for the parliament elections in September 2017. His story is a great inspiration itself.
Martin is that type of person who doesn’t believe in impossibilities. If he wants something he will most probably find a way to do it. „At least I’ve tried“ would be his answer in case he fails. This general approach to challenges is helpful when importing exotic furniture from Latin America. And, certainly, when building up an organic farm in Austria.