Submitted by Auli Kütt
They are people who have come upon incredible ideas; people who do something for their community and environment. People who care about themselves, others and the Earth; people who are not afraid – they might have started small and found a lot of resistance, but kept going and turned out into something big. Or maybe they don't stop just because they love what they do. They are the people portrayed by Catherine Berthillier and her Shamengo program.
Different cultures, same values
Catherine Berthillier with two Shamengo pioneers - Dr Pathak and Mr Nolvak - speaking on the conference for HEC students in Paris, France
Catherine came upon the idea of Shamengo while working as an investigative journalist for French television and travelling the world, putting her life in the line for the messages she wanted to convey. Visiting many cultures and countries, she noticed that even though the language, food and customs might be very different from her own, people still share some similar values everywhere around the globe, have some common concerns and are interested in similar topics, as well as strange and innovative ideas from other lands. Catherine's thought was to create a new program based on stories of humans who better the world through positive action.
Although at first she couldn't find any supporters to her idea, she just started to work. "I thought that I don't want to get retired and say: for my whole life I have remained in the consumer society, been selfish and not been part of those new values forming all around the world. I wanted to be part of this new world."
One by one she gathered a brave crew of six talented young professionals willing to work for a tiny salary in the name of the good cause and hopes for a better future. They started off with no office, travelling the world, doing interviews and finishing with the editing work in Catherine's kitchen.
“If Shamengo becomes a success,” says Catherine, “it will be because all of us; because this is a team. And this is what I like very much – becoming stronger together.”
Shamengo and Let's do it!
One day Catherine came upon a small article mentioning the Let's do it cleanup day in Estonia, and became interested immediately. She didn't feel very hopeful in her quest to contact Rainer Nolvak, expecting him to be a big star after having organised such a huge event and, therefore, inaccessible: "It was a big surprise to me that he was so kind and open-minded, very humble and generous of his time and excited about the idea to be one of Shamengo pioneers. "
Wishing to get coverage of the real hands-on action, but having missed the original Estonian event in 2008, Shamengo team went to film the big cleanup-day in Moldova, in April 2011. Upon learning about the World Cleanup 2012 plans, they decided to participate in the regional conference in Ghana, in September 2011, as well.