Making a difference in the world through compassion + positivity- The story of Janelle aka MotoGypsy
For this post I wanted to feature my friend Janelle. She is a self proclaimed ‘MotoGypsy’ and a jungle trekking badass. She travels the world on her motorbike with the intention of giving a voice to the voiceless. At the moment, she’s in the jungles of Laos raising awareness about the dangers of wildlife trafficking and UXO waste.
Here’s her story…..
When people imagine making a difference in the world, they often picture themselves far away, in a foreign land, immersed in a new culture in the name of help while acting on a very large scale. This feels insurmountable to most, given current obligations and the commitments of ‘real life.’ People feel overwhelmed with helplessness. There are so many problems today and who knows when they’ll be able to finally head out into the world to create a positive impact?
In reality, the most important thing to help our planet and humanity is to create positive change with the people and the environment around us – in our immediate vicinity.
Be kind. Consume less.
These are things we can all strive towards, right where we exist.
Perhaps I have this conversation with people because I am far from my home and acting in a very unconventional manner.
I’ve been living my life as a nomadic motorcycle gypsy for almost two years now. I’ve been spending most of my time here in Laos, working against the illegal wildlife trade by empowering children and communities through education.
I used to tell my friends that I hated children. In fact, I would openly express that I despised humans.
You see, I first learned about wildlife trafficking during the most depressing semester of my academic life, studying conservation biology. It was there that the flame to end this dark trade ignited within my chest and still burns strongly today.
People seem to be at odds with the environment and the creatures we share this planet with. I had long felt more comfortable with animals than my fellow species and took on this feeling that it was our kind against them.
It wasn’t until I touched the depths of my own personal wounds, feeling rock-bottom despair for not being enough, for not being as great as I thought I should be, for not being loveable, that I realized how much love I actually have for humanity - children included.
I had to forgive myself.
And in forgiving myself, I forgave my parents, my family.
And then I felt moved to forgive those around me, which eventually extended out across the globe and beyond, like ripples of love into the universe.
Now I see that my own darkness birthed a positive moment that sent me on an upward trajectory of compassion. After all, in those depths, there was no place to go but up.
I now believe this same compassion, this empathy, is our true hope for saving wildlife, for saving the environment, for saving ourselves.
I am on a mission to reveal the connection that exists between all living things. I seek to honor the wild on earth and within us all.
This fall I’ll be raising awareness and funds to help remove Vietnam-era bomb remnants the U.S left behind in Laos. The province where I’ve been volunteering for wildlife conservation is littered with active bombs. I’ve partnered with the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) to clear the UXOs that are still affecting so many innocent lives today – with over 300 incidences per year, 40% of them being children.
I am grateful for MAG and their presence here. I often see their trucks, I’ve witnessed their teams working, and I’ve felt the reverberation of their intentional detonations through my very bones. As an American who is aware of this situation, I feel compelled to help.
A wise, dear friend of mine shared his belief with me that every single person is doing the absolute very best that they can in any given moment.
This is a belief I have intentionally chosen to adopt (though admittedly, it took me a little while to come around to it). Within this mindset, we can better operate with love and compassion for others and ourselves.
I believe that once more Americans are aware of the UXO in Laos and how the US is influencing Wildlife Trafficking in little tiny Laos TODAY – they will want to help, too
Father, traveler, self trained creative, and spectator of life. The quest is to live a life intentionally, to construct a life of my choosing. I left the comfort of home at the age of nineteen and have been enjoying the Viaje as it unfolds ever since