Freethinking Conversations

FT-Convo-logo-300x300As Producer and co-host of the Freethinking Conversations podcast, Leah Davies and I learn from everyday changemakers and hear about the stories that have shaped them and inspired us. Our conversations are with inspiring souls who are making the world a kinder, better place in a myriad of ways – big and small, loudly and quietly, here and elsewhere.

We think stories make the world a better place, and the Freethinking Conversations podcast is a home for consciously-told stories and the brave and generous storytellers that share them.

If you are a curious listener with a passion for social impact and a love for good stories, this is the podcast for you! Listen here. 


Tuberculosis and taboos


Article published on Freethinker Co. November 2016.

In the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, the main highway threads along the fringes of the Ganges river, flooded with honking trucks decked in fluorescent flowers. Beyond this chaos though, there’s a quieter landscape that tourists, trade and government don’t reach. Here, life carries on in much the same way it has for hundreds of years. Money is earned from agriculture, spent on colourful weddings, and strict social customs dictate the type of life someone will be born into. In India, 70% of the population continue to live in rural areas and villages in Uttar Pradesh are home to many of the nation’s poorest.

It is here where I meet Kiran. Kiran is 23-years-old, but she carries the weight of many generations in the folds of her saree. When we meet, she is lying on a wooden bench under the burning monsoon sun. I smile, and she gazes back without emotion. Kiran has tuberculosis, a condition that is still common in this state despite the disease being preventable. She caught it from her brother-in-law, who also lives in the house that she shares with his wife, their children, her husband and his parents.

Read more here.


Two stories of Opportunity

Films produced for Opportunity International Australia with Director Stefan Hunt.

What we learned giving 100,000 meals


Article published on WhyDev in May 2016.

It all started on a hot day in a small village in rural Bangladesh four years ago. We began the morning chopping garlic and potatoes, and had hired a rickshaw wallah to cart five big pots of curry to a nearby school. When we arrived, there were questions, shy giggles and, suddenly, lots of hands – making mounds of rice, passing spoons to serve a friend’s meal and scrubbing bowls clean.

It was the birth of Everyone Eats. And friends, students, teachers and community members were celebrating over a first meal of khichori and duy for 145 children in a village where hunger is common.

Read more here.

Let There Be Light


Article published on the Opportunity blog in April 2015.

Waking up in India is not like waking up anywhere else. There’s the sound of the rickshaw bell – a flustered brrrring – as it hurtles past your window. There’s the smell of tea, steeped in spices and milk, drifting in from the room next door. There’s the golden light that is unique to South Asia – a hue blended by geography, pollution and the foggy breath of a billion people.

And then you step outside. 

Read more here.

This is a problem we should be talking about

Screen Shot 2014-07-20 at 1.16.35 pmArticle on Mamamia, July 2014.

Silence is not something you come across often in India. But there we were, in the middle of a rural area in the country’s north, where it was dark, silent and still. The workers had come in from the fields, the cows had been brought in and milked, and there was a lull while families stopped and took a deep breath.

I was at a small village in the state of Bihar, one of the poorest states of northern India, working with Opportunity International Australia. As the fog set in, we huddled into a van to take the potholed roads back to the town of Buxar for the night. We weren’t even two minutes down the road when a woman’s silhouette appeared from nowhere.

The driver slowed right down, and we stared back into the face of a lone woman, standing motionless by the edge of the road with a small tin bowl in her hands. Another hundred metres down the road, another woman appeared. And another. And another.

We were interrupting the silent, private moment that nearly one billion people around the world experience every day: open defecation.

Read more here.

What you missed in the news this week

Screen Shot 2014-02-15 at 12.02.06 PM Weekly column published on women’s website Flamingo Pink, summarising highlights from the week’s news for busy 20-somethings, with a focus on uncovering neglected topics and explaining the hard issues.

Writing on everything from domestic politics (Who to vote for in tomorrow’s election), stories about poverty and development (Typhoon Haiyan Update: what you can do), environmental issues (The dredging decision and what it means for our Great Barrier Reef), financial backgrounders (What you need to know about the latest budget cuts), international politics (China’s change of leadership) and controversial social commentary (#Slanegirlsolidarity).

Read my latest posts here or click the hyperlinks above to look at some past samples.

Amanda Ryan is a designer making a difference

Screen Shot 2014-03-27 at 10.01.38 pmArticle in Dumbo Feather magazine, in March 2014.

It’s a rainy Sydney Sunday, and Bangladesh feels very far from here. Over there, the thick smell of dust and the bells of rickshaws. The red sunsets and rainbow colours of sarees and salwars. In the markets, rows and rows of bright fabrics can be bought for a few dollars and stitched into a dress or shirt for a few more.

Perhaps Bangladesh is not so far away after all. Many of the threads that hold our own dresses and t-shirts together were stitched there, the world’s second biggest exporter of readymade clothes after China. When an eight-storey building that housed some of these clothing factories collapsed in April last year, hundreds died and thousands were injured. The Rana Plaza collapse exposed the high human cost behind cheap fashion.

Amanda Ryan is a designer dedicated to changing that.

Read more here.

Four ways to travel toward stillness

Balloons and Sky_Jessica CarterArticle on Elephant Journal, a website dedicated to mindful living.

For those of us who live in the world’s wealthiest countries, we are nearly always on the move.

We heave our tired selves into cars, planes, boats, trains and we traverse cities, countrysides, continents. Our airports are full, our roads are full, our bags are full and our tummies are fuller.

For thousands of years, we humans moved no faster than our feet could take us. When we travelled by sea, our speed was at the whim of the wind. When we travelled by land, it was often with the help of a four-legged creature—camel, horse, sled-dog and the like.

In the last two centuries, we’ve galloped forward with breath-taking pace—we can reach the other side of the world in a day; we can be with one side of the family in the morning and the other in the evening; we can chart our maps with google, without any need for the stars to guide us.

Even when we are still, we are on the move. Our atoms balance on an earth that spins endlessly while the planets, stars and moons of our universe swivel on their own orbits. Our sleeping bodies rest against the sighs and shudders of breath.

But movement doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, after a few months of constant travel, I’ve come to realise that when I travel, I move to find the stillness.

Read more here.

No Justice For Evicted Slum-Dwellers

Article published on New Matilda, November 2012.

In April the Bangladeshi Government ordered the destruction of one of the largest slums in Dhaka, leaving thousands homeless. Three court hearings haven’t resolved anything.

It’s nearly winter in Bangladesh and the capital, Dhaka, is already sinking under the combined weight of grey skies, sticky air, and 12 million inhabitants. The population here is growing fast, with nearly half a million new migrants arriving in the city each year hoping to escape rural poverty.

Read more here.