The reasons why people leave – and in the worst case have to flee from – their home country to live somewhere else are many.
Which ones come to your mind, when you think about it?
War? Political turmoil? Suppressive regimes? Work? Compulsory military service for life? Economic crisis? Hoping for a perspective and a job? Health issues? Business? Freedom? A different lifestyle? Family? Love?
They are all real, as far as I am concerned. But did you know that conservation sadly is another reason to leave everything you love behind? No?
Then meet Augustin.
Augustin Sarovy’s homeland is under huge threat from deforestation. A lot of it illegal.
Since 1995, Augustin has been working as a surely excellent and very knowledgable guide in the area that was soon known as the Masoala National Park and became a UNESCO World Heritage Area in 2007. It is a unique land as so many species only live in Madagascar.
Augustin has always known about the importance of nature for us humans, and especially with his home country being so extraordinary and of world importance, his goal is to protect it.
Being not only a conservationist but also a musician he aims to sensitise children for the environment through his music and big heart filled with love for nature and humans alike. A French film team around Yann Arthus-Bertrand accompanied him on his quest some years ago. You can watch the journey here (in French).
He also guided Thierry Lhermitte (a French actor), who had to explore a world unknown to him for the French TV series “Rendez-vous en terre inconnue” in 2004, through Madagascan rainforests.
Then in 2009 a political crisis, the fact that Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world, and the greed of international logging companies led to an immense pressure on the forests. According to Wikipedia, thousands of people invaded the primary rainforests in search of the highly precious and sought-after rosewood and ebony. They put up camp and went deeper and deeper into the forests not caring about them being protected by law.
Augustin, of course, could not stand by and watch his beloved land being robbed and destroyed. He stood up against the crime and as it later turned out risked his and his family’s lives by speaking out and helping Alexander von Bismarck – Executive Director at the Environmental Investigation Agency – doing an undercover investigation of the illegal logging in the Madagascan forests that was secretly filmed and then showed to the world. A documentary well worth seeing, but unfortunately it is only available in German. And so is this article about the story from GEO.
In 2012 Augustin received such serious death threats by the logging mafia that his life and that of his family was in real danger. They were after him and he had to make a hard decision in order to protect himself and his family. He fled from Madagascar with the help of a Swiss, as he told me, and left his beloved family and country behind.
What’s more, he had n o contact with them for a heart-breaking two years.
Augustin became a refugee because he wants to protect nature.
Six years later he still lives here missing his dear family and especially his children, who grow up without him.
Still, when you look into his eyes and his beautiful face, I find you so amazingly see the joie de vivre and the fire that still burns strong within him. Moreover, his calm and at the same time vibrant charisma really is contagious. What a legend and wonderful human being he is!
Luckily, nature still plays a big part in his life here as he works as an organic farmer.
I am so grateful to got to know him a little bit and to listen and watch in awe as he spoke with me. It is my honour to share some of his story with you.
He wishes for all of us to make friends with nature and he so beautifully had this word created for it in German: Umweltfreundschaft. It translates into something like “environmentfriend” or “naturefriend”.
Merci beaucoup et de tout mon coeur, cher Augustin, pour notre rencontre, pour la conversation profonde et pour tout ce que tu fait pour cette planète! Je t’embrasse et mes meilleurs voeux.