5 MINS: JAZ O’HARA FROM THE WORLDWIDE TRIBE

by Gabriella Tavani


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Art & Culture March 22, 2016

Jaz O’Hara began The Worldwide Tribe travel blog as a way to document her life. The Worldwide tribe is a now a registered charity that aims to bring together a community of international citizens. Her work varies from spending her days in Calais to talking internationally about the work she is doing.

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HOW DID THE WORLDWIDE TRIBE START?

The Worldwide Tribe began as a travel blog, documenting the ridiculous situations I found herself in, from living with 350 girls in the labour house of a garment factory in India to driving Tuk Tuks up the coast of Sri Lanka; from rescuing kids from a fire in an Orphanage in Kuala Lumpur to studying Mandarin in Beijing; from yoga teacher training deep in the jungle of Costa Rica to life in the Favellas in Rio, Brazil.

Most recently, The Worldwide Tribe has been focusing on bringing a human perspective to the refugee crisis currently sweeping Europe. Me and the team have been living and working in the refugee camp in Calais, France, known as ‘The Jungle.’

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WHAT ARE YOUR MAIN INFLUENCES TO CREATING YOUR BLOG, THE WORLDWIDE TRIBE?
The people I meet are what influence me to write. The amazing diversity, yet the underlying similarities that tie us all together as one human race. In terms of inspiration for my blog, Humans of New York is a big one for me, and Yoga Girl in the way she spreads a beautiful message of love whilst still be relatable and real.
THE BLOG IS SOMETHING THAT PROVIDES A PLATFORM TO MANY PEOPLE WHO DON’T ACTUALLY KNOW ABOUT WHAT IS HAPPENING IN CALAIS ETC, HOW HAS SOCIAL MEDIA BEEN IMPORTANT TO YOU IN TERMS OF SHARING THE MESSAGE OF THE WORLDWIDE TRIBE?
Social media is an incredible tool. It is so powerful and has given us the ability to harness this wave of generosity and support for the refugees we have been working with. I truly believe in social media for positive social change as it is amazing for raising awareness in a reactive, responsive and REAL way. If we need anything, we put the ask out through our social channels and people step up and respond absolutely incredibly, it is truly humbling. It allows a platform for conversation and healthy debate and I love that, it’s also very inclusive. A great example of how we use social media, is when we shared the story of a good friend of ours in the camp, Mohammed. Mohammed had a rotten wisdom tooth and suffered the pain for 7 months. It got so severe he was unable to eat, sleep or even write the poetry he found such solace in. No dentist in Calais would see him. We put this story on Facebook and were inundated with offers from dentists. Someone travelled over within 2 days and Mohammed was finally pain free!

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WHEN WORKING IN SUCH HARSH CONDITIONS WHAT INSPIRES YOU DAILY TO KEEP GOING?
Again, the people. When I feel emotional or drained, or frustrated and upset, I think about the resilience and determination of my friends in the camp. They have taught me how strong the human spirit really in, even in the worst of circumstances, and this drives me to continue. 
WHAT IS THE BEST THING TO HAVE COME FROM THE WORLDWIDE TRIBE?
I sound like a broken record, but for me the best thing is the friends I have made from all walks of life. My eyes have been opened to some of the world’s worst crisis’ and I am learning so much from the people I meet every day. I feel lucky to have formed relationships and built trust with such heroic people who have been through so much. I have taken away more from being in the camp than I could ever give, and I am very grateful for that!
WHAT DOES A DAY IN YOUR LIFE LOOK LIKE?
This is a tricky question because things are currently so varied. This week has been a week of raising awareness…On Monday I went back to my old uni to give a lecture, 3 years after graduating, which felt pretty weird, then I spend Tuesday and Wednesday in Paris for a Human Rights Day in a school. Today I’ve been in Luxembourg speaking at a Global Issues conference and tomorrow I’ll be back on the ground in the camp in Calais. A typical day there includes drinking lots and lots of tea with lots of different communities and eating incredible food – fresh naan bread, fragrant rice, spicy chicken and delicious bean, spinach and lentil dishes. My day revolves around eating and drinking! It also allows me to identify needs and respond to them as best as possible!
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HOW CAN PEOPLE GET INVOLVED TO HELP?
There are LOADS of ways to get involved, depending if you have time to give, or a financial contribution to make, or even if it just means spreading the word by sharing a Facebook status or embarking in open-minded conversation. If you have a bit of an idea about where your skills and talents would be best placed, please email Jess@theworldwidetribe.com. There are levels at which you can get involved, and having open discussions and sharing ideas in definitely a huge level!!!
IF YOU WEREN’T DOING THIS AND HELPING PEOPLE, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING?
 Before this I was working in ethical fashion, for a Fairtrade underwear brand that produced organic, sustainable cotton underwear in India. I spent huge amounts of time there with the cotton farmers and the factory workers. I love India. If I wasn’t doing this I would either be working in Ethical Fashion (I love the creativity this allows), or off travelling somewhere crazy!
DESCRIBE WHAT YOU DO IN THREE WORDS?
inspiring, exhausting, fulfilling <3
THANKS TO JAZ FOR TAKING THE TIME TO ANSWER MY QUESTIONS, IF YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT WHAT YOU CAN DO VISIT THE WORLDWIDE TRIBE HERE.


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