Hitchhiking across Africa for a sustainable future

To move forward we must recognize that in the midst of a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms we are one human family and one Earth community with a common destiny.

The concept of sustainable development is increasingly known and used among a wide variety of actors. However, the real implications of this concept remain unclear, as wars are still being waged, human rights violated, and the effects of climate change and an unequal distribution of wealth and resources are characterizing global society. Fundamental changes are needed in our ways of thinking and living in order to come to a global consensus on the meaning of sustainability, the challenges that are to be overcome, and the methods and principles by which a sustainable future can be achieved. Thumbs Up realizes that the time for change is now, but how can you get people from all over the world to be aware of this? It is time for a new approach, it is time for something that has never been done before, something that goes beyond people’s expectations. It is time to let people experience a human journey that will fundamentally change the way they view the world and their place in it.

In the summer of 2012, a group of hitchhikers will undertake the journey of their lives as they travel across the continent of Africa to increase the support and the required awareness for a sustainable future. They will depart from Groningen, the Netherlands, and arrive three months later in Cape Town, South Africa. During this trip, the hitchhikers will be confronted with the effects of war, climate change, and social and economic injustice. They will not only make the necessity for sustainability visible through their encounters, but they will also actively contribute to its realization by participating in innovative and inspiring humanitarian and developmental projects throughout Africa. By bringing the hitchhikers face to face with these issues, the aim is to enact a shift in their minds that will help them change their lifestyles and inspire others to do so as well. To lift the impact from the local level to a broader scale, the human journey with its highs and lows can be followed through different media. People from all over the world will join in on this unprecedented journey through a documentary series, while the hitchhikers will encounter an amazing variety of people, cultures, and landscapes. They will immerse in the daily lives and experiences of the people they meet by sharing a ride over the savanna and through the jungle, staying at homes in big cities and tribal communities, and working together to move towards a sustainable future. Through these encounters, wise elders and ambitious youngsters get the chance to present their vision on sustainable development to a worldwide audience. The 15 000 kilometer journey connects diverse communities, seeks various solutions to the challenges that become visible, and stimulates people all over the world to actively engage in moving towards a more just, sustainable and peaceful global society.

From the ancient pyramids to the impressive Victoria Falls, from rural life to crowded suburbs, from the scars of war to the impact of climate change, this adventurous journey encourages intercultural connections. If we need the entire world population working towards the realization of a sustainable future, people from different parts of the world have to be connected. This unprecedented event does not only enable the connection between people, but also provides for an opportunity to link problems and share solutions in a creative and innovative way. By making this experience a personal one, people can start living up to their potential as ambassadors of change, each in their own place, but together in a common goal.

The Thumbs Up Foundation is a non-profit foundation established in the Netherlands
and a partner to the Earth Charter Initiative. For more information, visit www.thumbsupafrica.nl or contact us on [email protected].

Read an article on Thumbs Up in Digital Journal.


Ayla van Kessel, President | Roy Tjan, Founder and Secretary | Guinevere Abendanon, Vice President and PR Coordinator | Hilde Schaddenhorst , Treasurer and Fundraiser | Anna Booij, Program Coordinator | Huub Borren, Route Coordinator | Nienke Toren , Security Coordinator
[email protected]