Name: Carol Foote
Age: 69
Country of birth: United Kingdom
Country of Residence: Australia

1. Tell us a bit about where and how you grew up

I was born in Wales and my family moved to England when I was five. When I was sixteen my family emigrated to Australia.

2. How do you feel your childhood shaped your life?

Moving to Australia at the age of sixteen and leaving school and all my friends was very traumatic. It was the ‘60s and England was the “centre of the universe” and I felt that I had been taken to the “ends of the earth”. My father sent me to secretarial school which I hated. They admitted to me when I was older that I should have been allowed to study art – but I was to do that later in life when I studied photography at art school.

3. When did you first develop a desire to travel and how has it evolved over the years?

I didn’t have the opportunity to travel when I was young, although I would have loved to. My adventurous travel began after I graduated from university with a BA in Chinese and Asian studies. After graduating, I attended university in Yunnan, China to improve my Chinese. But it was also an opportunity to incorporate my love of photography and any free time was spent traveling to rural areas to photograph the minority tribes.

Because I live in Australia I have travelled extensively in Asia. However, over recent years I’ve developed an interest in India and Nepal. I have visited both countries several times and really enjoy visiting the remote villages there.

4. Tell us about some of your most recent travel experiences

Last year I went to Tibet and my most recent journey was a three month trip to India traveling to the rural areas of Gujarat and Rajasthan to photograph ethnic tribal groups.

5. What challenges have you faced in regards to travel

None really – accept on my first trip to Nepal. I happened to be there when the massive earthquake struck in 2015. This was an awful experience and one I will never forget. The effect on the villages was catastrophic – I’ve been back every year since and many people are still left homeless. Re-building has been very slow.

6. Tell us about 3 of your most inspiring travel experiences

Attending university in China for two stints of four months made a huge impact on me. It was the first time I had been overseas by myself. But it really gave me the confidence to travel on my own. Both Tibet and Nepal are close to my heart. I had been told that you could only travel to Tibet in a group, but that’s not correct. You can go as a solo traveller, you just need to apply for a group visa and go in a group of one! My first trip to India was to Varanasi for ten days (I travelled there from Nepal). Those ten days in Varanasi were to get me hooked on India.

7. Is there a place you have visited that has surprised you in a good or bad way?

That would have to be India. India is a feast for the senses – especially as a photographer. It’s one of the most visually exciting places I’ve ever been to and the people are incredibly friendly and welcoming. However, the poverty can be very confronting. Human (and animal) suffering is evident and can be very heartbreaking.

8. In what ways has travel changed your perspective about life, people, the world

Travel does make me very thankful for what I have inmy own life. But it also makes one realise that material things aren’t everything. I’ve met some of the most wonderful people who live very basic existences, but their hearts are full, and they have a great sense of family and community.

9. Do you have any causes that you are passionate about or organizations you support?

I have supported World Vision by sponsoring a little girl from Tanzania. Knowing that my help enabled her to attend school is wonderful. At present I also have a Go Fund Me website to try to raise money for someone in Nepal whose house was destroyed by the 2015 quake. I’ve recently received news that work on the house has now begun.

10. In what ways do you believe that travel has the ability to change lives and improve the world?

I truly believe that travel creates a greater understanding between peoples. Stereotypical ideology can be stripped away. Underneath our different cultures, language and faith we are all very similar. When you open yourself up to people – even with just a smile – others will open themselves up to you. Life long friendships can be formed with people from other lands, but it also gives you the opportunity to meet travellers like yourself who may be involved with volunteer work in schools, hospitals etc and that can be very inspiring. Yes, traveling can take you out of your comfort zone but if it changes your thinking to be more tolerant then that can only be a good thing – especially in these times in which we live.

The Voices of Women project is our way of giving a “voice” to all women who want to share their stories. We believe that every woman has the power to change the world and that by sharing our stories we have the opportunity to heal, inspire and offer hope.

Photos included in this post have been printed with express permission from the amazing Carol Foote. Please follow her and show her your support.

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