Sarah Begum: Journalist & Explorer
Exploring the world, her reporting sheds light on important issues and raises awareness on the plight of those who have no voice.
Count on Begum
As an explorer and journalist, Sarah Begum is on a mission to uncover the mysteries of life. Whether the task is to discover new places or unearth interesting stories, count on Begum to lead the investigation. Sarah is an explorer, TV Presenter, journalist and activist. Her stories appear in various publications and cover her experiences on topics such as travel, adventure, history, anthropology, conservation, the environment, and humanitarian causes.
In her spare time, she practices martial arts. Other times she’s in the rainforest documenting the effects of environmental degradation on an ancient civilization, helping typhoon victims in the Philippines, or reporting on issues important to the Muslim LBGQT community in London. She chooses to work on projects where the need for awareness is great and to help us understand the perspective of those affected.
While her work takes her to faraway places, the underlying themes in her works remain the same — culture and people. She emphasizes what it means to be human, no matter where you live. With her journalistic skills, she connects the threads of human experiences across the globe and inspires other female explorers through her organization, the Adventuress Club.
Married to the Story
One of her projects took her into the deepest jungles of the Amazon where Begum immersed herself into the culture of the Huaorani tribe, an ancient hunter-gatherer civilization in Ecuador, to tell their story of environmental degradation due to industrialization. As an added surprise, a tribal marriage was arranged for her. “It was a sign of honor to fully accept and initiate me into the tribe and make me a messenger so that I would spread their message about protecting their land from exploitation to the wider world,” she says.
Prior to her wedding day, she had spent two weeks researching the first-hand impacts of oil exploitation. Begum hunted fish and small animals and gathered fruits and plants to assist the small tribe with their daily activities and fell in love with the simplicity of life.
The tribe grew to trust and respect her, which was no small feat as the tribe has been recluse and often violent toward western explorers. In the 1950s, westerners attempting to make contact with the tribe were speared to death.
But because of her sincere approach and charming personality, Begum was able to befriend the tribal leaders and document their experiences. These experiences would be included in the documentary, Amazon Souls, which she produced and was shown at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. The film solidified the importance of Begum’s work as a producer, investigative journalist, and environmental activist.
A Wild Life
Begum’s daring attitude coupled with her cinematic skills helped her to become the youngest person, at age 21, to make a documentary on the rainforest. Her film was endorsed by many rainforest charities from around the world, including Sky Rainforest Rescue and Rainforest Alliance, each focused on restoring the environment.
“This was a welcome after-effect of my documentary work. It gave me a chance to raise awareness on environmental issues, spread knowledge about different tribes and their ways of life, and inspire viewers to donate to these causes by showcasing the raw beauty of the rainforest and the fragility of our planet as a whole,” Begum said.
Apart from filming the Amazon jungle, she has embarked on many worthwhile adventures. Among her many works, she has documented the moves of a Sicilian mafia organization, intimate stories from a sex worker in the Red Light District in Amsterdam, and a behind the scenes look at the lives of Native Americans and their struggles with alcohol addiction, gambling, and unemployment.
Her curiosity and determination have taken her to dangerous cities and places like Bangladesh where she explored gender issues, including forced marriages, possessions, and exorcisms; and Morocco where she documented the lives of the people living in the Atlas Mountains.
While in the Atlas Mountains, Begum snapped a photo that was worth more than a thousand words. She encountered a woman from the Berber tribe who adopted her. She initially stopped to take a selfie with the woman who had never had her picture taken, and the rest is history. The photo was later broadcast by the Discovery Channel.
Throughout her career, Begum has received many awards and recognitions such as Captain Scott Society Spirit of Adventure Award in 2014, and was a finalist for the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship Award. She is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical and member of the World Explorer’s Bureau. Begum delivered a TEDx Talk on the environment in Ghana and is a sought-after public speaker who encourages others to live their dream.
Begum is an activist for environmental and human rights issues around the world, and she wants other women to join the club. She explains that “when you travel and see the breathtaking sights and hear heartwarming stories, you feel alive and empowered. It is crucial to take this feeling of fulfillment and share it with others.”
In 2014, she collaborated with Russ Malkin to set up the Adventuress Club, inspiring women to pursue their passion and take part in exhilarating adventures from environmental and wilderness expeditions, physical challenges, and extreme sports, to experiencing different cultures.
She believes that it is necessary to give back whatever you have gained from the world in new and creative ways — to become role models and make a difference in the world for the better. The organization encourages women to share their stories and ideas so that others will be inspired to pursue their dreams.Begum believes “it is important to follow your dreams, no matter how impossible they sound.” She continues to push her mission of inspiring through adventure and hopes that her life will inspire others to find a deeper meaning, explore their surroundings, and raise awareness on environmental and human rights issues. For more information visit www.sarahbegum.tv.