STEFANO LOTUMOLO: ON THE BORDERS OF THE HEART, ON THE BORDER WITH MYANMAR
This new year has recently opened its doors, continuing its dance of time, in a whirlwind of uncontrollable, incessant, incredible, unstable, often illogical world events.
Events that follow one another, in the contemporaneity we are living as if we were on a crazy accelerating roundabout. Events that submerge the world in the darkness.
But beyond the heavy dark blanket, other kinds of stories happen too, which follow specific geographical and heart coordinates.
And create a light that draws beauty, humanity, empathy, infinite sense of hope.
Stories that cannot remain invisible and that have to be read, heard. Embraced.
Stories like the one that I am about to share with you, deserve the place of honor as the first article of 2022.
I am really happy to represent a human thread of inter:connection between who told me about it and you, who you are about to continue and immerse yourself in this reading.
Once again, the art of writing becomes a permanent multicolor marker used in an objective but empathetic way, which underlines, highlights, traces, draws with strong strokes, and gives color to the emotions of the teller and the reader.
This story has a special spokesperson: Stefano Lotumolo, a talented photographer with a big and pure heart, as well as a friend and human being who knows how to be human, and who firmly believes in what he does, and destiny’s strength.
This exclusive Empathy Interview with Stefano, with whom I had the honor to talk, left my face streaked with tears and my heart unable to remain unresponsive.
This is an unfiltered, heartfelt interview, which invites us to draw trajectories toward a new awareness.
To (re)calibrate the heart at the right energetic vibration.
To open eyes and soul again.
To (re)turn to Human.
Because, as Stefano himself states in his last special, photographic volume “Sul Sentiero Del Bene” (“On the Path Of Good” ) – Myanmar Limited Edition, which I highly recommend buying, we are “all equal. All brothers. Matter. Spirit. Balance”
Yes, “It’s All About Love”.
Stefano, you inaugurated the new year 2022 with a journey to land you are very close to, Myanmar. Why is this nation so special?
There are signs, and at times they are big and visible ones that you can’t pretend to see.
It’s about five years that I'm trying to follow the signs, entrusting myself when possible.
In 2018, Myanmar showed me how to live life with less, without ever losing a smile, and for me, this country represents beauty and spirituality, which I tried to display through my photography in return.
Burmese people have always had an unstable internal political situation, which resulted in the coup d’état on February 1st, 2021.
Which important memories do you have of Burma?
On the journey, I met Mokhita, a Buddhist monk of German nationality: he’s been one of the most important signs the Universe could ever place on my path.
Mokhita opened an association in a monastery. He created a school to support the child monks’ studies, hosting volunteers, doing eco–friendly activities, and also trying to make development in the village adjacent to the monastery. A project aiming at healthy and shared progress.
I had the honor of being hosted in two monasteries where hundreds of children lived happily.
And during those days, I had the chance to relate to myself with so much wonder, unreservedly. I guess from those days my life changed forever, dazzled by a pure light, fascinated by a spirituality shining from each person I met. […]
Meeting Mokhita and being able to live for a few weeks in this wonderful monastery, represented me quite a lot for the young guy I was in 2018. Filled with dreams, in that period, I could have been everything I wanted to be; for this reason, without any experience, I succeeded in letting photography become my new world, my way of communication. I unreservedly entrusted myself, and the Universe acknowledges this.
What recently happened in Myanmar and to Mokhita?
Unfortunately, in February 2021, when the military junta took power again, many innocent people died or were unjustly put in jail, and it still exists a state of terror in the Country. Mokhita has been unfairly blamed, and like many local leaders, he was put on a blacklist in Myanmar. But luckily he was able to fly back to Germany. During the years, the project became very significant for the job is done.
The country plunged into the abyss, and for the umpteenth time is a victim of genocide by the military regime. The world is looking while in Myanmar the situation is becoming even more desperate.
Stefano, you often talk about signs from the Universe: tell us about the development of the situation and what was the turning point that pushed you to leave.
I was supposed to visit Mokhita in Sri Lanka in January, but he called me just before Christmas, on December 22nd. He told me he was moving at the border between Thailand and Myanmar, Mae Sot precisely, because of the difficult situation happening to thousands of migrants fleeing from war.
During the call, he asked me to join him and I accepted, without hesitation, not even for a second.
Since receiving that call, in my life, a sign from the Universe to follow has arrived.
I wanted to have a conversation with him, to live through his stories, the real situation of a nation I loved and who gave me so much. I wished to look into his eyes and understand what Mokhita experienced first-hand.
I left despite the strange period. Twelve infinite days of travel, between various quarantines and so on, to be finally here.
"Il Cammino del Bene" (“The Path of Good”) continues and evolves into a new, actual mission.
Do you want to tell us more about this adventure in Burmese land? Which objectives do you have and would you like to achieve?
I met Mokhita again, with no more monk robes, because his time in such robes ended.
I like to think that Karma saved him.
Reached the north of Thailand, at the border with Myanmar, where thousands of people try to survive as they can.
We want to support the Burmese population in the most direct way possible, without intermediaries. When the right time will come, fundraising will start.
I connected with the population, and I narrate stories. The situation is delicate […]
My first goal was to come here and narrate, and live my first experience as a photo reporter (even if I cannot shoot many photos unluckily…)
And as president of Radici Globali association, I wanted to understand if it was possible to do fundraising or work hard to do it in the wake of our primary project, which remains to build wells in Tanzania and reforest that land, the Masai area.
Thus I throw myself into this story.
You recently created a wonderful photographic volume “Sul Sentiero Del Bene”(“On the Path Of Good”) - Myanmar Edition. What do you wish to communicate with the special photos, and why is this an important book, relating to the mission you are living?
In this photographic book, I collected stories of many people, trying to give voice to those who don’t have any, to send a message that could be good also for us on this side of the world. In these pages is enclosed the beauty of colored cultures that allowed me to learn fundamental life lessons for my personal and spiritual growth, and it also contained a message of love and respect for diversity.
I decided to donate 15 Euros for every photographic book sold, and in this way, when a total of 300 copies will be sold, 4500 Euros collected will be used to buy essential goods for the Burmese population.
Before being a photographer, before being the president of an association, I am a person who is trying to do his best, and I hope you can perceive this.
I won’t change the world, but what interests me is being a small drop in the sea, and allowing you to be that same too.
Your eyes and heart are experiencing a very strong scenario since you arrived in Asia. Do you want to share your direct testimony?
This is the life I chose: seeking and feeling, with the heart, stories of who lived experiences, far from the logic of human beings. The eyes of Burmese people talk, creating an emotional abyss and great inner peace.
I try to live every moment in the very present.
I attempt to put myself out there and make available something of mine, and being here makes me happy.
Found myself completely immersed in what is happening…and people trust me, because I have no filter anymore, especially during my travels.
I’m living a whirlwind of emotions, sometimes uncontrollable.
Sometimes I lose my breath, at times I don’t know what to say, they tell me such strong stories.
The guys I met today, looking on the ground, at a certain point told me: «When are we going to have a minimum of stability? When? »
There’s a revolution taking place in Myanmar, which is one of the most beautiful places in the world, and obviously, nobody talks about it, so my job was and is to be here, documenting and making available my art, to create beautiful energies, give birth to possibilities, and I am trying. It’s not easy, the situation is delicate, thus I’m attempting to do a reportage where I don’t show the people's faces, but I narrate real stories, that I experience first-hand, leave a mark, and create within me moments of great despair and amazing joy.
I’m standing at the border of a revolution people talk so little about, where every single word needs to be measured in the right way, not to put those who already suffered so much, in new danger.
I should find a way to divulge even more this message, also because I’m collecting are powerful, but is not easy.
What other messages do you feel to share with us, especially during these difficult and uncertain times, to leave a significant trace?
Times are what they actually are, then everyone is trying to find something good out of them.
During this moment, I can say we need to understand that, if we want to preserve and keep a certain sense of humanity on this earth, we must distance ourselves from everything that is all about us, even with small actions, and start to create a different sharing, that starts from the heart and not from interest strictly connected to something we do.
The more we entrust without asking anything in return, the more our life can change, also in the small things… it doesn’t matter if you want to support the Myanmar population, or others, all it takes is to start with small things, with a little bit more heart.
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Photo copyright and credits: Stefano Lotumolo