I have travelled to many UNESCO World Heritage sites. Zanzibar Stone Town in Tanzania, Kathmandu Valley in Nepal, the Medina of Fez in Morocco, Robben Island in South Africa, The Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the Grand Canyon in the USA, the rock-hewn Churches of Lalibela in Ethiopia, Lavaux Vineyard Terraces in Switzerland (below), to name a few.
I wondered what the listing actually meant, so of course I googled it.
‘Heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations. Our cultural and natural heritage are both irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration.
Heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations. Our cultural and natural heritage are both irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration.’
This got me wondering even more.
If these sites are to be passed on to future generations, why do we do so little when some are so threatened?
Kilwa Kisiwani, Tanzania
Bored, happy, sad, sulky, serene, studious, joyful, aged, proud, devout, grateful
When I was trekking in Ethiopia a few years ago we passed a coptic church in the middle of the countryside on top of the plateau. The priest was walking along the track and stopped to greet us. He was happy for me to take a photo; something I don’t often do as I’m always a little embarrassed to ask. I was so taken by the calm and peace of this man that it was only later when I looked at the photo, that I really saw the beauty of his age etched face and rheumy eyes. I wondered what those eyes had witnessed in his lifetime.
Broken chairs, but who’s bothered with a view like that?
Trekking near Lalibela, Ethiopia
In May 2013, I was doing some voluntary work in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I was working at the School of St Yared, set up in 2009 to educate those children who would not normally get a chance, due to their poverty and family circumstances. The aim being that through education the poverty cycle can be broken and when these children become adults they can become leaders within their communities.
On my first visit to Ethiopia I didn’t manage to explore further than the edge of Addis city, so on this occasion I decided to go community trekking to western Meket in the mountains near Lalibela, one of Ethiopia’s most sacred sites.
This photo, one of my favourites, was taken one morning just after breakfast, purely by chance when a small goat herder came skipping over the ridge.
He went past with an inquisitive smile and I wondered if he had ever had the chance to go to school or if this was the only life he knew, helping his family and roaming the mountainside with their goats in search of pasture.