A Fellow of the Royal Geographical, Sarah Begum is an Immersive Investigative Journalist, Anthropologist-Explorer and Public Speaker. Sarah has been exploring the world, studying tribes and different ways of life whilst investigating current affairs and making a humanitarian effort to help people along the way through her work.
In 2010, Sarah travelled deep into the Ecuadorian Amazon Rainforest, where she lived with the Huaorani tribe and immersed in their way of life, hunting with warriors, gathering with women whilst investigating into the impacts of oil exploitation on their land. On this expedition, Sarah was made Queen and married to a warrior to create an alliance and send their message about protecting their land through her film. Sarah became the youngest person to make a first film in the Amazon jungle at the age of 21 with a premiere of “Amazon Souls” held at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013. The film has been endorsed by rainforest charities Sky Rainforest Rescue, Rainforest Alliance, celebrity Adventurer Bear Grylls and has released on various platforms worldwide.
Sarah’s achievements include winning the “Spirit of Adventure Award” from the Captain Scott Society 2014 for her next big expedition, “Life In The Darien Gap”, shortlisted by the SES (Scientific Exploration Society) Explorer of the year Award 2014, Finalist of the National Geographic Explorer Award, Finalist of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship Award 2014, highly commended by The Adventure Fund in association with Sidetracked magazine.
Sarah’s photography aired on the Discovery Channel of a photo she took with a woman from the Berber tribe who adopted her in the Atlas Mountains. Sarah has investigated into the mafia system in rural Sicily and how it has changed since the anti-mafia movement. She has stepped into the underworld of Poland’s most dangerous football hooligan gangs to understand what divides them. Undercover filming in Amsterdam’s Red Light District, Sarah Begum gained an insight into the professional and personal life of a prostitute from an exclusive interview. Exploring the USA, Sarah captured stories from the Native Americans about how alcohol, gambling and unemployment created a lost nation in the modern world and is set to release a book about her epic journey. In Bangladesh, Sarah witnessed spiritual possessions, exorcisms, forced marriages and challenged gender barriers setting standards for the new generation of Bengali women.
Sarah has survived in some of the most dangerous cities in the world. In Caracas, Venezuela, Sarah worked as a Broadcast Journalist, presenting international current affairs for an English TV channel whilst surviving the city. Sarah Begum returned to the murder capital of the world to film undercover in Latin America’s largest and most dangerous slums and to investigate how social, economic and political issues have impacted life in Caracas. Sarah released her report, “Surviving Caracas” just before the elections in Venezuela in December 2015.
In February 2014, Sarah collaborated with a World Award Winning body painter and came up with the idea to create, “Adventurion 3D-360 , confirmed by the Guinness World Records as the first ever adventure themed 3D UV chromadepth bodypaint to be captured on both linear and 360 camera lens, representing the past, present and future of exploration, filmed at Pinewood Studios.
This concept combines adventure, art, science, space and new film technology. Through her partnership with Rainforest Concern, Sarah implemented a strategy to raise awareness of her tribe in the Amazon. Book Sarah through Speakers Inc
Sarah trains in martial arts and is an activist for environmental, human and women’s rights, fighting to shine light upon issues internationally. Her humanitarian work includes delivering workshops on entrepreneurship to students in colleges and universities across Ethiopia to create sustainable businesses thus boosting the economy. When Typhoon Haiyan took the Philippines by storm in 2013, Sarah made a documentary about the survivors whilst rescuing the village of Lanao with aid. It was aired on Sky and raised enough money to rebuild the entire village. She helped transform a wine plantation to an eco farm in rural Sicily whilst dodging an active volcano and surviving an earthquake. Sarah spent time in an orphanage in Venezuela, helping young children gain confidence through a workshop she delivered on performance focused on their futures. Sarah visited the refugee camps in the Calais jungle and taught the refugees how to use their existing skills and the entrepreneur schemes available to them to start their own businesses whilst they were waiting for citizenship. In Ghana, Sarah Begum has reported stories that have made a difference in the lives of her subject from a mother and her twins seeking refuge at an orphanage from ritual sacrifice in Nigeria to a woman suffering from tuberculosis of the spine with her only child who is blind. These stories went viral, attracting the international eyes to help their cause. She continues to work on various projects that attract her attention in helping those in need.
Sarah was featured in The Guardian as part of the San Miguel Rich List 2016 for enriching explorers and named “world’s top 17 trailblazer” with an exhibition of her photos at Somerset House. She was published in Marie Claire in 2017 to share her life and work to date and returned from Ghana in 2017, where she was working as a Broadcast Journalist/TV Presenter for GHOne TV producing and presenting special features for the news, live reports and TV documentaries on stories ranging from social issues, adventures, the environment and undercover assignments. The stories ranged from investigating living conditions, chasing crime and exploring brothels in the most dangerous slums of Ghana, “Sodom and Gomorrah”, being appointed the first to fly at the Kwahu Paragliding Festival 2017 to fishing and farming in undocumented rural villages capturing their expectations of the new government.
Sarah won an award at BAFTA when she directed the short film, “Who Would Have Thought…” for Nespresso Talents 2018, coming second place in the final three out of the 400 from around the UK and Ireland. Sarah’s journalism took a new turn when she interviewed world renowned primatologist and conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall for BBC Focus magazine. She now writes for various publications about her own experiences around the world and other topics of interest ranging from adventure, travel, history, geography, anthropology, the environment and conservation.
Sarah Begum partnered with Russ Malkin from Big Earth to set up ‘The Adventuress Club’ – a platform to connect, share, empower and encourage women in the world of adventure. She has delivered a TEDx talk on the environment in Ghana, The Rotary Club in the UK, to oil directors from major oil companies around the world in Spain and she was a panelist at the Belfast Media Festival 2016 framed as ‘The Future Storyteller’. An advocate for women’s rights, Sarah has spoken on International Women’s Day several times to promote the unconventional woman who is breaking traditional barriers in order to become a role model for future generations seeking the alternative path. As a public speaker, Sarah aims to inspire people to live their dreams no matter how impossible it may seem whilst teaching them about the world through her adventures touching on anthropology, exploration, film, environment, human rights, women’s rights and other global topics rooted in her work.
Amazon Souls: Living with the Huaorani Tribe
At the age of 9, Sarah Begum learned about deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest and at 21, she followed her childhood dream to embark on an adventure in the jungle where she lives with the Huaorani tribe, hunting and gathering with warriors and was initiated by the tribe as Queen and married to a warrior to create an alliance and spread the message about protecting their land from exploitation. Sarah talks about her adventure, the Huaorani men and women’s roles in the jungles, their traditional tasks from hunting to weaving and the various species of plants and animals which play a big part in their daily lives.
Berber Tribe of Ourika Valley, Atlas Mountains
Sarah was adopted by a woman from the Berber tribe deep in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco and spent the festival of Eid at her house to help her with errands. The selfie she took with the woman premiered on Discovery Channel and it was the first photo anyone had ever taken of her. In this talk, Sarah explains various aspects of the Berber culture and the significance it has to their lives from the language of the birds to the iconic symbols on their carpets. She also explains the significance of the Eid festival and the development of religion and language in Morocco.
Sarah survived the ‘Murder Capital of the World’ where she was a News Anchor for a government channel turned undercover journalist to expose the injustice in the country. She lived like a local in a dictatorship suffering from hyperinflation, high crime rates, four different exchange rates including the black market, shortage of essential products and survived the system and the streets her own tactical way. She talks about life in Caracas for the everyday resident from the teacher to the lawyer, the student to the expat.
Road Trip Through Native America
Sarah Begum embarked on an epic road trip through 18 states in the Mid West, USA in search of Native American culture and heritage. Sarah shares stories from various Natives she met at the Pow Wow which shaped her decision to explore more. She takes us on a journey through the USA from the bull fighters trying to make a living in the Navajo reservation, the alcoholics looking for better paid jobs to the historic Trail of Tears, which ended at Fort Gibson – one of the places Sarah was given special access to archive letters and an abandoned hospital used for the cavalry at the time. Sarah gives us insight into the unique cultures of each of the tribes from their creation theory to their symbolic dances and the current issues they are faced with.
Homecoming: Manya Tribe’s Nmayem Festival
The Manya Chief invites Sarah as the only outsider to observe their ritual celebrating when the British forced them out of their hilltop homes in accusation of human sacrifice. Sarah Begum talks about the significance of the millet festival, each of the artefacts they visited on their trek up the hill to pay respect to the ancestors and the Ghost Dance where they connect with spirits to receive approval of the entire pilgrimage.
A Mesopotamian Adventure
Sarah travelled solo through Ancient Mesopotamia in Southeastern Turkey to a village bordered with Syria and Iraq in search of ancient history and culture. Here, she was investigating into antiques and artefacts specifically from the Ottoman Empire and Byzantine periods. Through her adventure, she discovered various artefacts and antiques perched up all over the country and visited some of the oldest sites known to man where civilization was thought to develop from. She talks about the history of each of the places she visited and the culture of the current lives of the people she met in the towns she was living in from their work with Syrian refugees to generating income from tourism.
Conference & Keynote Themes:
- Sustainable Development
- Women’s Voices
- World Affairs
- Human Rights
After Dinner Themes:
Culture and Arts
Motivation and Inspiration
“Sarah it was a wonderful honour having you at our Nari Diganta International Women’s day event on 8 March 2015 as a speaker and participant on our panel of successful British Bengali women. The team at Nari diganta and audience most appreciated your work in that it brought home to women your ability to break free of stereotypical, sexual, cultural, religious bigotry to explore adventurously and achieve success as a woman. We would be pleased to have Sarah Begum presence again in order to empower and encourage women to do the same.” – International Women’s Day 2015, Piya Mayenin, Nari Diganta UK
“Sarah came to visit our sixth form in October to talk about and screen her Amazon documentary. The film completely surpassed my already high expectations – absorbing, heartfelt and humorous. A class act of documentary film-making. Sarah has engaging, warm and perhaps above all as interested in her audience as she was interesting. The time she spent with a group of students at lunch after the lecture – the most popular lunch of the lecture series’ in the last 2 years – and the effort she made to question and advise each of them is a testament to her passion for people. I think she left all the girls better informed and more inspired than before her lecture.” – Ciara Morris, Godolphin & Latymer School
“Sarah came to the school to deliver an assembly based on her experiences journeying through the Amazon. Being an all-girls school the students could really connect to Sarah, and were inspired by the fact that someone they could relate to so closely could undertake such fantastic adventures. Your presentation really did engage with them and we all at Highbury Fields School wish you best for your future adventures!” – Rhys Burton, Highbury Fields School
“Sarah came and spoke to the Pegasus Network about her work and experiences. She gave a wonderful talk, remarkably full of insight into the different people she has met on her adventures. Her boundless enthusiasm shone through as she spoke about her motivation and concerns. It was particularly fascinating to hear of her experience living with the Huaoranis in Ecuador which launched her career. We look forward to hearing more from Sarah in years to come.” – Mike O’Neill, Pegasus Network “Sarah spoke about her Amazon Souls film at the Adventure Travel Film Festival and kept the audience entertained and enthralled with her stories.” Lois Pryce, Adventure Travel Film Festival
Follow SI on Twitter