Forest Call celebrated its one-year anniversary by honoring the work of our youth. Neil, a teen intern with Service Space, interviewed 17 year old Ian Watt. A filmmaker who founded, “Love is the Answer" on Forest Call.
"Love is the Answer" is a web based platform developed by kids in order to direct their creative talents towards a movement. Several goals include: celebrating creativity, building a community of passionate problem solvers, and to reshape the ways that people can actively become involved in change.
The motto of “Love is the Answer” is basic: “ ______ is the problem. love is the answer. Your creativity. Your movement. Let us be your voice."
Ian, along with a friend, spent time with K.I. Nepal, an NGO involved in anti-human trafficking where they rescue girls at border stations between Nepal and India. K.I. Nepal invests in the rescued girls, in the same manner Ian's parents invested in him. This experience proved to be the crux of "Love is the Answer":
"This whole idea of the "loveistheanswer" movement is to come here [Nepal] and to really plug in."
Ian recalls his moment of inspiration that transpired into a continuous journey:
"We were sitting in the new Delhi airport in India and we were just thinking about the model that organizations use and it was really just brainstorming about ways to get involved besides using our finances. I thought, the whole reason I am going to Nepal is to shoot a film so what if I use film? We broadened the idea eventually to all creative talents."
Once at K.I.Nepal, Ian learned how a border station operates:
"We went to one border station and we got out of the car, I was filming, walked down to the actual border, saw border guards and the people just crowding through and if anyone's ever been to India or Nepal, there is really no traffic pattern. There are no toll booths or no real security checks. The traffic just pours through like a funnel so it's almost impossible to intercept girls that are potentially being trafficked."
In detail, Ian describes his first experience at a border station:
"I went to the K.I.Nepal border station, and what they do is have counselors who stand at the border station and seek out girls who are suspects for being trafficked. They are authorized by the local police force to interrogate these people. The counselors were once trafficked. They have been so empowered by K.I.Nepal that they come back to serve. These girls know exactly what to look for because they have been through it."
What transpired next was an emotionally charged, life changing event for Ian:
"This 12 -year-old girl was rescued that morning and to look at a 12-year-old girl, I have a sister who is 12 and to see someone that age, it just didn't make sense to me to see someone that young be trapped in such a system of evil. It was really heartbreaking. She came in the truck with us and sat right next to me and we went to the safe house and dropped her off and there is a community of girls living in this safe house who are learning skills and building relationships with each other. Just to see them welcome this girl with open arms, it just brought tears to my eyes.
We came back three days later, and this 12-year-old girl who had just before been broken, had been totally crushed, not a hint of a smile, her eyes were just glazed over fear; I saw the most amazing transformation. This girl was given such hope from the community and the safe house that she was beaming! She was singing and dancing with the other girls. I was speechless."
After his return from Nepal, Ian was that much more driven to serve. When asked about his upbringing, Ian makes it abundantly clear that he understands not only his role, but the roles of others:
"I am privileged to have grown up in a really strong and centered family. Our lives are here to serve others, it's not to get as much as we can out of life. I think it's important to understand, our purpose is not to gain things for ourselves, but to serve others. I would just like to thank my parents, they have always been an inspiration to me."
Ian's school sponsored a contest that he won that propelled him to continue to use film to help people realize the true purpose of their lives. Ian does not seek to be the “best director” or to be “famous” rather to inspire others to create. Furthermore, Ian's school made his vision a greater possibility by allowing him to finish his education online in order to continue traveling to bring more awareness through collaboration for a greater cause.
A direct result can be seen in Ian's advice for kids who do not have the same privilege or exposure:
"To the people who think they don't have the potential or think they don't have the capacity to serve others, you totally can, it's less of finding the money or finding the opportunity, it's more of what's going on inside, where's your heart? Everyone is here for a reason and there is a certain calling we all have to use our lives to serve others to make our world a better place for the next generation."
Ian recognizes the need for technology, yet drives home an essential message of utilizing that same technology for positive actions:
"We should be the change instead of technology, technology is a tool that we should use. A lot of the advancements that we have made as a society has been under detrimental purposes. The same technology used to prevent human trafficking is being used to support human trafficking."
On the "Love is the Answer" website, there are new artists constantly signing on. People can submit their art or movement for cultivation or sponsorship.
In September 2012, Ian's new film is being released based upon his experience of “plugging in” to street artists that created wall murals to highlight causes.
To find people in the world, who are interested in becoming involved in the world, is the mission of "Love is the Answer."
In the words of one 17-year-old artist:
"Is this life about me or is it about us? As a global community, we are responsible for each other." - Ian Watt
Ian's experience in Nepal is documented on Northern Lights titled, “loveistheanswer” a short documentary created by diverse young artists collaborating with one another. You can also follow him on Twitter: lveistheanswr. Here's a film that speaks about their journey and work: