Who we are, what we do and why we do it
I am Sebastian Tirtirau. Since 1994, I have been traveling, working and exploring more than 150 countries and territories, from the most civilized cities to the most remote corners of the world. My passion for our planet began at a very young age, when my father opened a world atlas in front of me. Coming from humble beginnings, from a small village in northern Romania, no one would have imagined (not even myself) the span of my explorations across the world. I left Romania when I was 24 years old, a young student with a young wife and a 9 months old daughter and landed in South Africa. The moment I touched down in Johannesburg, I knew this was going to impact my life like nothing else I ever imagined.
In 1996 I reached the Kalahari Desert and met the San (Bushmen) people, together with a very close friend of mine, Dan. This experience opened up in my heart a hunger to go everywhere and meet new people and new tribes, a hunger that was never satisfied, even to this day. I am the only non-native adopted by the San tribe, from the Kung Bushmen, who speak the Ju:Hoansi language, as well as the only non-native to be adopted by the remote Kiai tribe of Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu, South Pacific. This gives me an insight into their culture that no one else can claim.
The following years took me from the depths of the Amazon jungles of Guyana, Brazil, Peru, Venezuela, to the heights of the Arctic, from the islands of Vanuatu to darkness of Congo, from Chile to Bhutan, from Japan to Siberia and all across the world. I traveled in everything, from fancy Jumbo jets to hot air balloons, from dog sleds to dugout canoes, from camels to motorbikes and sailboats. I crossed the world on my own motorbike, 75.000 km, 34 countries, 16 months. I have sailed the South Pacific in search for tribes, hidden deep in the islands of Vanuatu, I have reached the Gobi, the Sahara, the Atacama and the Kalahari, I have slept in tents for months on end, in huts, in igloos and in hammocks deep in the jungle. I have been bitten by mosquitoes and flies, stung by scorpions, chased by elephants and hippos, attacked by people and ridiculed by crowds of civilized men and women sitting in fancy buildings, judging the world as if they are her creators. I suffered hunger and thirst, cold and heat, I got used to having nothing and having a lot. I made mistakes and I learned to adapt to countless circumstances. All of this I’ve done to expose myself as much as possible to this beautiful world we live in, because I believe that we have no right to judge anyone until we have lived at least 1 day in their shoes. So, this way, I lived many lives, I sang with the Bushmen in the desert under the Kalahari stars, I cried with the pygmies in the jungle when their people were decimated by the rebels in Congo, I laughed with the little orphans in Zambia when we played soccer together and I danced almost naked with the Kiai of Espiritu Santo island in Vanuatu.
Yes, I broke many standards and patterns from the world I came from, from the culture I came from and from the nation I rose from. Yes, many things I’ve done were unimaginable and unacceptable to many people of my culture, religion and education. But that was what made me, me… the man I am today, the person I have grown into. And I accept no judgment from anyone or any structure or organization or entity, because no one has lived in my shoes for at least 1 day…
Due to my global work in the humanitarian field since 1994, I have learned quickly the in’s and out’s of this industry. I have been exposed to this kind of work in more than 70 countries and on all 6 inhabited continents. I have acquired a vast experience and wisdom in this field and I am in the fortunate position to make clear cut decisions that not only benefit the people we work with but also save money. I have an incredible network of workers, volunteers, suppliers and distributors whom I work with for 25 years and I have access to incredible prices for all our projects around the world. Therefore our funds go further than most, because of this unique skill which I acquired over the years.
Our main priorities are:
- Supporting the orphan children, especially in Africa, with the focus on the poorest countries with the largest number of orphans: Zambia, Malawi, Kenya, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mozambique, Congo, Angola. In Malawi alone there are over 5 million orphans and we believe there are more, since no one really takes the time to count them all. We have been caring for 200 orphans in Zambia since 2010. Supporting the orphans means:
- Education sponsorship: in most cases, a child’s tuition in Africa costs around $200 a year, including books, uniform and shoes.
- Food production and delivery: we have established a 40-hectare property in Zambia where we have planted orchards, fields and gardens, as well as an animal farm to feed the children and become self sufficient. This is an ongoing project with various ramifications and it requires maintenance once in a while.
- Sport facilities and skill trade schools: in order for the children to have a safe and healthy environment to grow in and to develop, we build from time to time the necessary facilities to support these endeavors.
- Installation of solar powered water systems, including the digging of the boreholes in remote villages with no water and lots of children/orphans. This project has been one of my greatest joys over the years, as I installed over 110 systems in Namibia and Botswana to the San/Bushmen people of the Kalahari and it gave the tribe a fighting chance and helped their children survive in greater numbers. The solar powered water system costs around $5000 and it includes all the cables, the pump, the solar panels and the necessary installation expenses. We do it ourselves, we do not hire a third party, so we save a lot of costs associated with this.
- Distribution of mosquito nets to villages affected by malaria. We have done this for years, both in Africa and in the South Pacific so we know how this is done. A mosquito net costs around $10 each and to date we have distributed more than 50.000 nets to children around the world.
- Distribution of various humanitarian aid, depending on the country we work in or the need we are presented with. From blankets to chickens, to goats and to cows, or bicycles, motorcycles for local health workers and much more. We do not come with our own ideas to these people, they tell us what they need, what they want and we supply according to their needs and requests.
Just to make it clear: we DO NOT own any orphanages, because I don’t believe in the institution of the orphanage from several reasons:
- It is an abusive institution: 90% of the children in these orphanages have a traumatic experience either from abuse, exploitation and neglect.
- It is manipulative and keeps the orphans under distress and shame, so the donors are always emotionally manipulated to donate more. It has no intention of making the children happy or independent, who would donate to them anymore if they are content and happy?
- It removes the orphans from their natural environment, institutionalizing them for life, away from their society, their language and their culture. They alienate the children and these children will not function normally upon release.
My vision of caring for orphans is what we are currently pursuing in Zambia: we have care-takers in their local villages who have “adopted” these children into their families. These carers can be a distant relative, a grandmother, or even a neighbor. We supply all their food, education, medical and physical needs for the child, so the family has no burden in caring for them. This way, the orphans grow in their own society, and they grow free of stigma and unalienated by the institution. They quickly start living happy, healthy lives.
Our properties serve only for the purpose of creating food for them and creating facilities for them to play sports, to learn trades and to develop as strong human beings. We DO NOT have any dormitories for boys and girls and not forced labor or activities as you see in many orphanages.
When I left my country in 1994, I had no idea how I would survive what was coming in my life. It was the first time I traveled overseas, I had a one-way ticket to Johannesburg and a 2-week tourist visa. In my mind I knew this will be an adventure, but never ever have I imagined the way my life would turn out to be. I had no means, I was coming from very humble origins (my parents were both poor professors of history and philosophy, so even though we were poor, ravaged by the Communism which just fell, we had a solid world education) and I didn’t know where I would sleep or eat when I got to South Africa.
When I met the San/Bushmen people for the first time in 1996, in the Kalahari, I was a very poor student, working 3 jobs in the university, plus a full load of credits, and a young family. Even though I knew I had no means to help, I realized that there is no way I would give up in trying to find resources to help them. The San people at that time had a very high mortality rate in infants and children under 5 due to the lack of clean water. I knew I needed to do something about it. In 1997 we immigrated to United States and by a complete miracle I ended up speaking to a branch of FOX news in Montana about my passion for the Bushmen. The film “The Gods Must Be Crazy” was very popular in the States at that time and since I was a very close friend of Gau:kana, the Bushman actor in the film who found the Coke bottle, the impact of my program went far and wide. I received a huge support from the American public at that time, who encouraged me and sponsored me to go back and help them out. And that how my work started!
Since then, I have been able to support and help countless tribes and cultures with what they needed, without a huge organization that eats funding, without corporate sponsors or government support. We do not have secretaries, buildings or fleets of vehicles. We install and build everything ourselves, employing local people, creating jobs and bringing well being to their villages. We have no political, religious or private agendas, we don’t care much for lots of talk and no work and we love to see the faces of our children around the world.
Finally, if you want to be a part of this incredible movement, who spans the globe and stays true to its mission, its vision and its goals, without manipulation of any kind, without begging, without hidden agendas, please join us. Become a PILGRIM, a traveler and a visionary for the sake of our little ones, born without fault in this world and suffering the most because of the injustice and inequality of this world.
But if you do join, please remember the following principles, from which we will not defer or go astray:
- The movement has no affiliation with any organization, political or otherwise. We will not be sucked into any argument over politics, government, church or philosophy. Our members come from all the corners of the world, of all races, genres, cultures, languages and beliefs.
- The movement seeks the full, unaltered benefit of the children of the world, without ulterior motives (remember the definition of true religion, this is all we are about)
- We do not like what we call “bar talk”, which seems to be very popular these days, in which everyone seems to conquer the world while sitting in a bar. Everyone is an expert these days, in politics, in economy, in coronavirus, in religion and everything else. All experts without any practical involvement or experience. Social media has made us all professionals in everything and in nothing. We do the work, practically, physically, quietly. We do not advertise anywhere on TV, or radio or newspapers. We prefer members who like to quietly change the world, without the drums of the shallow crowds.
- We do not ask for donations and we do not beg for money. We do not send letters or emails unless you request them and you are a donor already, which means you will get a report once every 3 months of our work in progress. We believe that funding will come when we need it and from the right people at the right time. This is not a guess work or a fantasy, I have done this since 1994 and it has been proven time and time again, so it is not a dream, it is reality.
To join Pilgrim movement, write to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org and give us a small intro about yourself. If you personally know me or have heard me speak in your community, then you will know of my work and my principles of operating.
This is, in my view, the most important piece of any life, work, calling or whatever else you want to call it: WHY?
Why do I do the things I do?
Why Pilgrim Movement?
I have been a public speaker for most of my life, speaking to about 1 million people a year in the last years of my public life. Due to my projects and experiences from around the world, I had the privilege of speaking to a wide range of organizations, from universities to business people, from schools to churches of all kinds, across all inhabited continents and across many languages and cultures. I have seen and experienced a very wide range of belief systems, religions, philosophies and schools of thought, from the classic major religions of the world to the ancient philosophies of Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. After 25 years of close interaction and study, I have realized that across the entire world there is a growing number of people who thirst for something deeply meaningful, and wanting to do more with their lives and to leave something lasting behind them. With the uncertainty in the world right now and the turmoil in politics, economy and the division that grows every day, a certain group of people, similar in vision and passion, are growing more thirsty for something that transcends the shallowness and frivolity of our world, from the workplace, to our homes and to our churches. I have sensed that for some years now and I always believed that a great movement is coming, a movement that will bring people together under a common vision, one that is not manipulative of our feelings, of our hopes and dreams, one that is not corrupted by hidden agendas or goals and one that is bringing hope to thousands of marginalized and underprivileged children around the world.
Again, WHY Pilgrim Movement?
Because I believe we are all pilgrims and travelers through this world, here for a while and gone tomorrow. Let’s make it one to be remembered, one that will resonate in the hearts of millions, for whatever future we have left on this planet.
Our Mission Statement
- To promote, support and develop the well-being of underprivileged, marginalized and remote children of the world, orphans primarily but not necessarily as a general rule.
- To create the appropriate infrastructure for such projects, like water systems powered by solar technology, irrigation and agricultural systems to feed them, school buildings, sports facilities, skill development facilities, education sponsorship, medical help and humanitarian support.
- To bring true care, true love and true commitment to these children by encouraging the local communities to get involved in raising these children in the local culture, language and circumstances, so they grow up to be confident and happy members of their own society.
- To educate the adult community in protecting the children from abuse, exploitation and neglect, by implementing stimulating programs in the community to foster their well being as a whole.
- To teach these children and youth the definition of the only true religion: “The purest religion is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” James 1:27 No other definition will be accepted in connection with our work with the orphans. This will keep all the other religious agendas at bay and the children will be given a fair opportunity to choose their destiny.
“You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one”
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