We all know the story of The Little Prince and the lost traveler. As the man is trying to fix his plane, a little boy comes to him, requesting his help in making his dream come true: “Draw me a sheep” asks the boy, this is how the story begins. The traveler then listens to the boy’s story, becomes his friend, and relearns a universal truth that guides the entire world: we can only truly see with the heart.
The Optimistic Travellers are not lost, but they have their faith in human kind and are travelling the world, aiming at “waking-up” humanity’s dreams in order to change the world. In 2014, hundreds of strangers gave the two men shelter, a meal, and a means of transportation, so they could complete their round-the-world trip in 80 days… with no money. In return they decided to travel all over Africa, and with the proceeds from the book about their adventures, help fulfil the dreams of the people they had met on their journey.
We all know, a dream is precious. It’s intimate. It comes from deep within the heart. It’s not something we share with strangers, and yet… with only a 10-kg bag each as luggage, mainly filming equipment, a deck of cards and a hoop, the Optimistic Travellers managed to gain the trust of those they met along the way. Their approach was simple: No itinerary, so pre-conceived ideas, and an unwavering faith in the other. We quickly understand that they will desperately need that faith, as their families have strongly advised against the trip. We too are worried about their safety, as we imagine what could happen to them so far away from home, hitchhiking, staying with complete strangers, at times in deprived neighbourhoods whose reputations are of being amongst the most dangerous in the world?
The result exceeds all expectations. Not once were they bothered, assaulted nor robbed, each step of the way they are greeted by generous and caring souls. Pre-conceptions fall. Barriers, borders and social classes disappear in the light of humanity. Rich or poor, everyone has a heart and has something to offer, all you need to do is ask.
Dreams are a universal language that enable exchange. Life stories are told, emotions are palpable. The aerial shots filmed from the drone shift our focus from very personal stories to humanity as a whole. One minute we are carried by children’s laughter as it flies towards the skies, and in a split second we are thrown forwards on the path of an athlete in a wheelchair, as he shoots across the screen like a lightning bolt. We then understand: dreams are the wings that enable us to fly, and the motor inexorably pushing us forward. The editing and the breathtaking scenery bring us on a journey between land and sky, with dreams as a guiding thread, to a place where miracles come to life.
Then, in a grace filled moment, far away from the path bathed by the African sun, darkness drowns out all light. The silence is deafening. The contrast is striking. Muammer and Milan have been invited to stay with an old woman who has no electricity nor water. Even our two Optimistic Travels daren’t utter a word whilst the woman prepares the meal by candle light. The roof is cracked, as it rains the bitter cold comes to befriend the silence and the obscurity. We suddenly feel small and helpless. Lost. Hope disappears.
But as dawn breaks, only one image emanates: that of the halos of light coming through the crack in the roof, like a sign from the heavens above. Light bathes everything, heat returns, as well as hope. The roof will be repaired today. The Optimistic Travelers purchase the supplies and begin the work, with the help of the lady’s friends. Smiles appear on the two men’s faces, despite sweat on their brows and the scorching sun … the temperature is over 40 degrees. But the happiness and the meaning derived from being useful is present. Because beyond the material, it’s a true human chain that is hard at work. At last the roof is fixed and, almost symbolically, the Optimistic Travelers install solar panels on the roof, bringing long lost light in to the woman’s life. She cries. So do we. Tears of happiness.
At last we realise that this isn’t a documentary about Africa, it’s a documentary about us. Humanity. We all have a dream, as well as the means of making someone else’s dream come true. But are we really aware of this?
Two young men, who had taken off with almost nothing, show us that with a bit of technology, communication, the ability to listen, and maybe a simple card trick, you can change someone’s world. All you have to do is “wake-up the dreams”.
Henceforth an international movement is underway: One Million Dreams.
One Million Dreams is the meeting point between giving and receiving. An international platform that combines modern technology and social networks in order to wake-up the dreams and change the world. And everything starts here. I have a dream Africa.