Christina Dodwell is a renowned explorer who spent 25 years travelling alone in remote and forgotten corners of the world, mainly in Africa and Asia. Latterly she set up a charity for children and family welfare which has changed the lives of thousands of young people.
Her first journey was a 3-year African adventure, travelling in the wildest parts of the continent on horseback, by camel, and paddling a dugout canoe. She shared meals with witchdoctors, pygmies and hermits, was attacked by bandits and arrested as a spy. For her second major journey she went to Papua New Guinea, a 2-year epic which included 1000 miles on horseback and 4 months making the first descent by canoe of New Guinea’s largest river. She was initiated into honorary manhood through a skin cutting ritual dedicated to crocodiles.
Other journeys followed, including to Turkey and Iran, to China in her grandmother’s footsteps, to Kamchatka where she spent a winter at minus 30 degrees and joined a Koryak dance group to go visiting remote tribes of reindeer herders. She’s been arrested in Afghanistan and Kurdistan, flown a microlight 7,000 miles across West Africa and was paralysed for 10 days in Kenya from the bite of a hunting spider. But it was in Madagascar with its ancestor cults, rituals of ‘turning the bones’, richness of unique wildlife yet devastating human poverty that Christina stopped to begin a new phase of her life.
She founded a British registered charity, The Dodwell Trust, and began by creating the first radio drama serial ever broadcast nationally in Madagascar, to bring improvements to children’s health, family hygiene, education, and to help fight poverty issues. After training a team of local script-writers, actors and technicians funded by UNICEF, the serial was broadcast nationally and on 50 local radio stations throughout Madagascar. It ran for 5 years and won the hearts of 10 million faithful listeners. Her later projects included building a primary school and sponsored the planting of 20,000 trees.
Over the years she’s written nine books, made 40 BBC radio documentaries and presented three television films. Christina joins us at the festival to share some stories from her wide range of adventures and host a Q&A session. Come prepared with any questions that you might have!