Rebuild Together - Bushfire Volunteer Platform

Rebuild Together - A Platform to connect volunteers with people who have been affected by the recent bushfires.

When the fires broke out across Australia, I had an overwhelming feeling of helplessness. I wanted to help, but I didn't know how or where to start.

We don't all have a bunch of money to donate but we do have the time and skills that are really needed. Whether it's cleaning up, dropping off supplies, caring for injured animals, trades, or just lending a much needed hand.

Which is why we built Rebuild Together. A platform for people who want to volunteer to help those who need it most.

  1. If you want to volunteer your time and skills - Become a Volunteer and help those who need it.
  2. If you have been affected by the fires - Create a post and connect with local volunteers.

The platform has just launched - if you would like to volunteer, please jump on the site and create an account. If you need help (or know anyone who does), create a listing and get connectd with local legends.


If you have any questions or would like to get involved please email me on: 


Keep on keeping on,


Muslim prayer beads on a blue prayer mat.

Prayer beads

Words and photography by Tim Jamieson

‘What you think, you become. What you feel, you attract. What you imagine, you create’
– Buddha

Muslims, Taoists and Buddhists live in a Mosque and two temples set almost touching, nestled into a small hill in the Helan mountains. They have lived here and prayed here side by side for generations in this remote area of China’s northern Ningxia province.

A portrait of a Uyghur woman smiling in a pink hijab.

At a time in the world where religion seems to be on the lips of so many as the cause for widespread war and terror across the globe, perhaps we should be focusing on humanity as a whole. It is humans that have an incredible aptitude for hate and ignorance but also love.

A devout individual shaking out a prayer mat in the sun.

Two monks in traditional garb holding Buddhist prayer beads.

The peaceful beliefs that religious people hold for themselves in all corners of the planet should be just as valid and respected as those who have none. Once we move past religion and blame, maybe we can begin to build our relationships and slowly but surely start to fix the problems we have created as human beings.

Portrait of a monk with a clean shaven head.

Red prayer flags hanging outside a temple.

‘Show forgiveness, enjoin kindness and avoid ignorance’
Quran 7:199

Portrait of a smiling Chinese man.

The rooftop of a local place of worship.

A young, female boxers hands strapped up in white boxing straps.

Katanga: the female boxers of Uganda

Video by Rob Mentov

Katanga is one of the largest slums in Kampala, Uganda. Assault against women is rampant, resulting in a group of female boxers rising up as vigilantes.
This is their story.

A portrait of a traditional Chinese actor facing the crowd.

Spring festival

Photos by Tim Jamieson

The pillow’s low, the quilt is warm, the body smooth and peaceful,
Sun shines on the door of the room, the curtain not yet open.
Still the youthful taste of spring remains in the air,
Often it will come to you even in your sleep.
~ Bai Juyi

Nepalese prayer flags in the Nepalese mountains.

Skateboarding in Nepal

Video by Rob Mentov

Interior mosaic of a mosque in China.

I didn't know there were mosques in China

Words and photography by Tim Jamieson

Recently someone commented on one of my photographs:

“Incredible. Didn’t know there were mosques in China.”


At first I was a bit annoyed. I thought about deleting the comment and being done with it.

Who doesn’t know there are mosques in China?


The Najiahu mosque.


But then I thought about it for a bit longer. It was written by someone who lives on the other side of the world. About as far from China as you can get. Perhaps they can be forgiven.

Maybe people don’t know there are churches in China, or synagogues. Chanting monks and towering pagodas, prayer flags fluttering in the breeze; maybe that’s the image of religion in China that floats out there, like incense smoke. Not tiled domes, minarets and veils.

It’s easy to see China and its religious cultures in that way.

The glittering coasts with cities like Shanghai and Hong Kong, and the ancient capital of Beijing bristling with temples and shrines and palaces. Stone lions crouching between doorways and red lanterns hanging in the air. It all seems to fit neatly with the monasteries and the monks and nuns.

But what about the rolling deserts to the west? The sun glancing off the golden tipped minarets of mosques in the north? Halal food and lamb carcasses hung up in butchers’ shops?


A Chinese Uyghur chef cooking mutton soup in a shop front.


China is as diverse as it is massive.

It’s estimated there are over 23 million Muslims in China. That is a lot of people. But they are a vast minority, just shy of about 2% of China’s total population, a drop in the ocean compared to China’s Han majority – incidentally the world’s largest ethnic group – which makes up about 92% of China’s population and around 18% of the people on this planet.

Suddenly 23 million Muslims doesn’t seem like a lot at all.


A portrait of a Uyghur man in Xian, China.

You can go to many cities in eastern China and not notice a single thing resembling Islamic culture. Everything appears very ‘Chinese’ save for a few Muslim restaurants dotted around the cities. Head north and north-west though, to the provinces of Ningxia, Gansu, Qinghai and Xinjiang and it’s a different story.

Muslim influence can be found everywhere you look, from the food to the clothing to the architecture. But all is not as it seems. While Islamic culture pops up around every corner in cities like Yinchuan and central Xian, Muslims are still very much the minority even in this ‘Muslim heartland of China’.

The repression of Muslims in China hasn’t exactly been under-documented in the West, but neither is it common knowledge. Despite the Chinese government’s attempts to squash the output of negative media by regulating and harassing foreign journalists and enforcing a tight chokehold on its own censored news media, stories still make it out there.


Portrait of a bread seller wearing burgundy clothes.


For example, the restraining of ethnic Uyghur in China’s far western province of Xinjiang where authorities have created ‘re-education centres’. Thousands of Muslims have been confined on the grounds of being “politically unreliable." Also the banning of burqas, veils and “abnormal” beards in what the government claims is an effort to combat Islamic extremism. Human rights groups have a different view and see it as an attack on religious freedom.

Even the subtle subversion of Islamic practices as loud speakers have been removed from hundreds of mosques, stopping the call to prayer.


The Grand Mosque in Xian, China.


What do you get from a cursory look at recent news headlines on China? Xi Jinping, China’s president for life. A new era being ushered forward with whispers of a future baring remarkable resemblance to the terrifying Orwellian nightmare of Mao’s rule.

Where will this leave the Muslim minorities of China in years to come?

So I don’t mind the comment after all. I get it, I understand why someone might not know much about Islam in China, it’s not the first thing that springs to mind when you think of China, not even close. The vastness of the country is hard to fathom let alone the diversity of the people contained within its borders.


3 Uyghur men sitting on a bench laughing and smiling together.


But I can assure you, as far as mosques are concerned – big and small, intricate and plain, old and new – there are many all over China.

At least for now.

Stories from Nigeria's yellow, transit buses

Words and photography by Sam Okocha

In Nigeria’s commercial capital of Lagos, the yellow bus serves as the most popular vehicle for commercial transport within the city.

The yellow bus, popularly called the Danfo, has come to symbolize the hustle and bustle of everyday Nigerians in Lagos. The stories in transit yellow buses series is an ongoing project for me; allowing me to document and show the life of everyday Nigerians through the prism of the yellow bus, the Danfo.

A Chinese performer performing a dragon dance during the Spring festival.

A new adventure

Words and photos by Tim Jamieson

When I first arrived at Shanghai airport I took one look at the mass of people waiting for immigration and scoured the list of destinations on the departures board. New York, Bangkok, Sydney.

Any place that wasn’t here.

Last call for the 12:25 to Helsinki?


I stared out at the sea of people surging forward in front of me and I couldn’t help but feel I’d made a big, big mistake.

My palms were sweating when I eventually made it to the front and handed over my passport to the official who, by all appearances, hated his job. I managed a half smile as he swished through the pages of my brand new passport in an obvious attempt to rip them out. I tried to act calm as he looked me up and down one last time and finally slammed down the stamp in the middle of a blank page.

It was done.

After months of interviews and waiting for documents to process, I’d finally passed though Chinese immigration.

I collected my backpack from the carousel which looked as bad as I felt. I shrugged it onto my shoulders and walked out into the arrival hall. I shuffled forwards and stared at all the people waiting for the new arrivals: businessmen shaking hands, parents picking up babies, lovers embracing. I needed a hug.

Instead all I got was a shout from a skinny guy holding up a sign of my misspelt name, a face mask pulled down around his chin, smoking a cigarette. He offered me one and rapidly fired Chinese at me, I declined and it was very apparent we wouldn’t be communicating with each other.

We walked out to the car in silence, I jumped in the back and off we went.

I had never felt so nervous before in my whole life.

Two hours later I checked into my hotel that would be my home for the next few days. I picked up my phone. I seriously debated calling a taxi to take me back to the airport but I took one look at the screen and put it down. I didn’t know what planet I was on let alone how to order food, take a taxi or generally look after myself, so that was it.

I was stuck here.

A week of apartment hunting, training, medical checks and meeting colleagues whizzed by. It was painfully obvious that my hastily-bought-online-at-a-discount TEFL course had taught me exactly nothing about teaching English.

What the hell was the past perfect continuous tense anyway?

I had one day left before I had to teach my first class. The terror took hold. I felt like hurling up the budget dumplings I’d wolfed down for lunch that had looked so good at the roadside stall, that had tasted so good going down, but I feared were so close to coming back up and decorating the wall of my new apartment.

My stomach gurgled.

Quite frankly had I projectile vomited my lunch everywhere it probably would have improved the decor, distracting the eye from the grey-green walls and various stains splattered on the skirting boards. It occurred to me then in my panic that whoever had painted the apartment really didn’t like the owner, or perhaps, just didn’t care that generally paint is for the walls; not the floor, sofa or refrigerator.

It took me a long time to sleep that night.

I made it through a fitful slumber, managed to hold down a bowl of cereal and left for work. The hours flew by until I found myself five minutes before my first class standing in front of the bathroom mirror trying in vain not to hyperventilate. I looked over my lesson plan for the twentieth time, which looked more like a detailed manual for assembling a flatpack Ikea dog kennel than the key that would get me through the next ninety minutes.

I took one more deep breath, walked down the hall and pushed open the door to the classroom.

Ten young faces all looked up from their desks and a collective gasp left their mouths. Then they went nuts. I tried my best to get them to listen to me, I threw game after game at them. I skipped over to the corner to decipher my lesson plan every five minutes trying desperately to stay on course.

I jumped around the room like an ape. The teaching assistant spent most of the time staring at me open mouthed, no doubt wondering if she should send for a doctor or if I was way past help by that point. Then it was over.

Everyone shouted goodbye, I collected my things and slid out of the door. I stood with my back against the wall and took a deep breath, resting my head against the whitewash. I felt a tug at my jeans and a little boy was holding out a hideous mess of something in his hand. I was pretty sure it was food, but I wasn’t sure if it had already been eaten or not.

“It’s for you. It’s chicken,” said the teaching assistant as she came out of the classroom.

“Er, thanks,” I said, deftly wrapping it up in a tissue and putting it in my pocket for discreet disposal later on. The boy tottered off and I managed to ask how she thought my lesson went.

“Actually it wasn’t too bad,” she said, “the students like you. Just do that thirteen more times this week and you’ll be fine.”

Then she walked off, leaving me alone to contemplate the life choices I’d made.

It was going to be a long first week.

I learned on my feet. The weeks passed and then the months and before I knew it I was a confident teacher who would go into work every day and enjoy the job, enjoy the classes and look forward to spending some time with the students. No more panic for me, just exhaustion at the end of a hard working week.

I discovered the delectable variety of Chinese food (soggy chicken feet aside) so different to the fare found in England. I travelled in my time off and soaked up the vast and rich history of China and its culture. The natural beauty of the country alone had me hooked.

The months turned into a year and then six months more passed. It was over. My life in China had come to an end, time had warped and fast-forwarded me into the future.

I found myself waiting at the airport to fly out of China. A whole new set of emotions greeted me, but this time, I didn’t want to leave. I stood in the queue to face the another grumpy looking official ready to facilitate my departure. I’d met so many people along the way, other foreigners from all over the world, Chinese colleagues who taught me how to be a teacher but most importantly, my students.

They were the hardest thing to leave. I taught them English but they taught me a whole lot more about living and quite honestly, changed my life. All of the students I’ve taught have had an impression on me in one way or another.

There’s Doc who’s twelve years old and is the most curious bundle of creativity I’ve ever come across in a person before or since, his doodles covering the whiteboard before class were always a highlight of my Saturday.

There’s Frank who’s four and in every class tried so hard to pronounce his name but could only ever manage a very enthusiastic, “I’m Flankuh!”

Or Cindy who would always come and find me when she arrived at school to show me the new ballet moves she’d just learnt. Other staff would have to sidestep and jump out of the way of this tiny girl twirling around and doing the splits in the middle of the teachers office.

So many busy young minds that I’d see for an hour and a half each week and throw as much English at them as I could, in the hope that some would stick. Even the nightmare classes. The ones that seemed to be filled with misbehaving imps spawned from the devil itself.

They improved as I got better at teaching, the kids became funny and less annoying and little by little my confidence improved. Each day the lessons went by quickly.

I could hear planes taking off somewhere outside as I stood in front of the booth waiting to get my passport back. I thought about my time in China and all the students I’d met. I thought about all my classes that had been taken over by a brand new teacher from the exotic land of the United States of America.

I thought about each of the individual personalities and I wandered who they would turn out to be, what they would achieve, what they would fail at and ultimately what kind of people they would become. When the journey is over and it’s time to move on all you can do is think back and appreciate the time you had, the people you met and the things you learnt.

Even though I was leaving I felt happy, I knew one day I’d come back to China and start a new adventure all over again.

The day the Earth shook

Words and photography by Lior Sperandeo

Two years ago in Mexico City, an earthquake broke out at 13:14pm.

I was photographing in a small elementary school when the tremendous earthquake shook the surroundings completely. The entire building moved from side to side, objects flew across the room and the tremor lasted for what felt like a lifetime.

There is no way to prepare for a moment like this. I dashed out into a safe area and was greeted by the sound of sirens filling the air. Absolute chaos had cut through the land.

This is not the first time I find myself in the midst of a natural disaster. Only this time, I had not come prepared. But, I’m here now, concerned amidst the total uncertainty and fear.

Dozens of buildings in the city had collapsed with people wailing – trapped in the rubble. The first hours post event are crucial; the response time will determine the death toll that climbs from minute to minute. While the police and the army stand helplessly on one side, tens of thousands of citizens took to the streets and in perfect synchronization began to undertake the rescue work themselves. each acting as though they had practiced it in advance.

Camera on my shoulder, I began to run into the unknown and document the critical moments, helping in the only way I knew how.

While some crawled through the rubble to search for survivors, hundreds of volunteers clawed away at the fallen debris so that rescue vehicles could cross. For many hours the intense work continued in synchronised harmony.

Every few minutes there would be a shout for silence, to hear the cries of people under the rubble. After each call, a hush would descend and fists would be raised to the sky in anticipation for any sign of life. Despite the tragic situation, every living thing – person or pet – who provided a sign of life from the ruins filled the crowd with the hope and motivation to continue, and not give up. It was then, in these moments of intense silence – while my hand was in the air – that I, too, understood my role.

Today, will mark a year since the disaster in Mexico. And it is only a year later when I have begun to find the words to describe the day I will never forget.

(Orignially published by The 88.)

jaislamer desert camel camping opium tea hash

On the edge of the Thar desert, sippin on opium tea

On the edge of the Thar desert

sippin on opium tea  


It’s mid afternoon when I arrive in the Golden City, Jaisalmer. The dry, sandy breeze intensifies my hangover. I jump in a rickshaw and head to my Hostel. The fort acts like a huge roundabout, so big that it blocks the afternoon sun on the drive over. When I arrive at the hostel, the owner is sitting out front, smoking a cigarette in his cream dhoti. His name is Raul, he’s a nice guy, probably in his mid 30’s. We chat for a little bit before he offers to take me up to a lookout to watch the sunset over the fort. We jump in his rickshaw and head over the lookout. We arrive and walk up the stairs, I sit down and marvel at the sun setting over a 860 year old castle. Creams turn to yellows and then into orange and then into gold. It’s beautiful. 

jaislamer desert camel camping opium tea hash fort


We head back to the hostel and bypass the infamous bhang lassi shop that Anthony Bourdain visited. I order a super sexy strong Mango lassi. The rest of the night is spent on the rooftop in a stoned blur, looking at the stairs, smoking biddies and playing an Indian board game - a mix between checkers and billiards. 

I wake early the following morning in the comfort of a king sized bed in my private room, all for the price of $3 a night. I drink chai with Raul and I ask him where I can find someone to take me into the desert to camp for a few nights. He tells me he has a cousin that runs a camel tour. This is always the case. It’s the motto in India, Everything is possible.  And everyone knows someone who can get what you want. And it’s generally a brother or a cousin, whether they are actually related is another question. I spend the rest of the day exploring the sandstone alleyways and then buy some hash from the cook at the hostel. A beautiful cube of resin, perfect for a desert trip. 

The following morning I wake early, again. It’s hard to sleep in the heat. I pack a small backpack with some things for the next 3 days in the desert and leave my rucksack at the hostel. Raul's so-called cousin is picking me up just around the corner. I walk over, admiring the stalls along the way. It feels like im in the setting from the book, The Little Prince. I’m greeted by a driver, a thin man with a dazzling moustache, wide brim hat and a long sleeve cotton shirt, he looks like a worn-out Indiana Jones. There are 4 other people coming on the Camel desert trip, a strange asian couple that are decked out the in latest Yeezys, a German girl and an Israeli. We pile into the back of an old jeep and head into the desert. 


jaislamer desert camel camping opium tea hash

We stop along the way to meet some of the children from a local gypsy village.  As soon as we stop, the kids run out of their huts, yelling and cheering with their hands waving high. They run up to the car and hold their hands out, begging for sweets. The driver pulls out a bag of lollies and starts throwing them out the window. We watch on as the kids scurry round, picking up the lollies from the ground and begging for more. We drive off and leave them in a dust cloud soon after. It’s disheartening. I knew that that was something that tourists have created. A chance to ‘meet real Indian gypsy children and visit their village’. We carry on, driving deeper into the desert. 

jaislamer desert camel camping opium tea hash

jaislamer desert camel camping opium tea hash

We arrive at a small village, comprised of 5 huts or so, surrounded by a knee high rock wall. A man squats in between a heard of camels. A father, named Arjun, and his two sons greet us. I light a cigarette and offer Arjun one, his eyes light up, he takes two. Not long after arriving and we are off again, this time, by camel. 

We ride for a few hours, along single tracks and over dunes. Wild horses and goats run beside us. It’s quiet. The only sound I can hear are the dings from the camels bell and the sound of sand blowing through dry shrubs. We stop behind a large dune to set up camp. The sun begins to set. I help the two boys collect wood and we start a fire to make chai. By this point in my trip I have become seriously dependant on the sweet, sweet nectar of chai. It’s crack. It still blows me away how amazing it is.

jaislamer desert camel camping opium tea hash

jaislamer desert camel camping opium tea hash

jaislamer desert camel camping opium tea hash

I roll a spliff with the hash from the hostel and walk up to the top of the dune. The heat haze blocks the intense light of the sun, creating a perfect silhouetted circle above the horizon. I light the spliff and pass it round. The asian couple are on another dune, the girl is throwing sand in the air and the guy is running around with a camera, trying to get the perfect shot. The rest of us sit in silence. Just being present, enjoying the moment. A boy from a nearby village rides his camel up beside us and sits down to enjoy the sunset with us. It’s so cliche. Like, is this really happening? I’m almost convinced it's a setup. I guess I’ll never know. We all just sit there, enjoying the sunset. 

jaislamer desert camel camping opium tea hash

jaislamer desert camel camping opium tea hash

I walk back down the dune and help Arjun set up the swags and prepare for dinner. An ominous cloud lurks above the horizon.  I ask him how often it rains in the desert, he says it only rains once or twice a year. I look back at the cloud, thunder belows and a gust of wind blows sand in my face. Maybe this is that time of year. 

The dark cloud becomes a black cloud. The wind continues to increase, blowing sand everywhere. Our fire blows out, our bags are quickly submerging into the dunes. I feel a droplet. I fuking droplet of rain. I create a makeship balaclava using my jacket. It’s storming in the Thar desert. I turn to Arjun and the boys, they’re running around trying to make sure we don’t lose all of our shit and still have food for dinner that isn't completely covered in sand. I couldn’t help but enjoy the moment. Maybe it was the hashish, but it was beautiful. A freak storm in the Thar desert. What are the fukin chances? I guess, 365 to 1. I was completely defenseless and I embraced it. If it were to rain, we are pretty screwed. No tent, no cover and a 2 hour camle ride back to Arjuns village. 

storm rain in desert jaislamer desert camel camping opium tea hash

storm in desert jaislamer desert camel camping opium tea hash

After an hour or so of panic. The storm calms down, the wind dies off and the clouds roll away. The asian couple peer out of their jacket cocoon and gesture something towards Arjun. He ignores it and continues to rebuild the fire. I chuckle. The boys and Arjun prepare a meal for us as the night slowly appears and the stars come out. A curry with rice and naan. It’s delicious. I eat it with my hands and enjoy every mouthful. We all sit around the fire and marvel at the stars, they are so bright I wonder how I will be able to sleep without covering my face. One of the boys plays the drums using the rice pot. The yeezy couple next to me inspects every mouthful with their iphone torch. We chat briefly around the campfire, the boys speak engligh pretty well, much better than Arjun. We scrub our plates clean with the sand and put on a pot of chai.

Arjun holds my shoulder with one hand and holds out a small bag with the other, “opium tea?” he asks. I nod and grin, without looking too desperate. I’ve always wanted to try opium tea. I knew it was popular in Jaisalmer. We are less than 100km from Pakistan, which is flooded with opium. So it’s no surprise that it’s readily available. I ask him how strong it is and spin my head around in some type of communication charades. "Strong wine," he says. The boys divide the chai between everyone, including Arjun and I. Arjun uses a stick to scoop out some opium from his bag and then mixes it into his chai, he then does the same with mine. I’m a little hesitant as to what the feeling will be. Some friends of mine had opium tea a few nights prior and they said it was quite mellow. I take it slow, taking small sips. The rest of the group head to bed. Arjun and I sit around the fire in silence. Shifting our gaze from the crackles of the fire to the glowing sky above. It’s beautiful. The opium cuddles me and I melt slowly into the dunes. 

I eventually find my way into my indian swag - a thick yoga mat and a blanket. The sand is still warm from the sun. The air is cool. I don't think I have ever been this comfortable before.  It’s not long before I find a couple of desert beetles crawling their way under my leg and into the warm blanket in an attempt to cuddle with me. I spend the next 15 minutes trying to locate the beetles in my bed, throwing them as hard as I can over the dune as soon as I grab one. I can hear the Asain couple still awake, shining their Iphone torch around in their bed. Their probably looking for desert beetles too. 

I don’t remember falling asleep. But I remember waking up. Arjun taps me on the shoulder and gestures with two fingers towards his mouth. “Cigarette?” he asks. I can’t believe this prick. Waking me up to steal some darts, the audacity. But I was in too good of a mood to care. I point towards my bag and tell him to get them himself. He grabs the pack and heads over to the fire where he is cooking a pot of chai. I roll out of bed and walk to take a piss. It’s so calm. So quiet. I’ve never been in the desert before, except for Stockton beach when I nearly died of dehydration with a mate of mine, but that doesn’t really count. This is my first, ‘real’ desert. 

jaislamer desert camel camping opium tea hash

I finish my business and walk back towards my swag. A dog is sniffing around the campsite. I ask one of the boys whose dog it is, he tells me it’s a desert dog… A fuking desert dog? What kind of an answer is that. That’s not really answering the ownership of the dog. If I found a rabbit in a shop and someone asked, ‘Whose rabbit is that?’, I couldn’t just say “shop Rabbit”. Or maybe I could. Maybe some animals don’t have owners and they are just ‘animals of the environment’. Whatever. The dog is nice and it chills with us around the campsite. We drink our chai and packed up the camels again for the ride back to the village. 

jaislamer desert camel camping opium tea hash

The ride is nice. The temperature is warm - the day hasn’t progressed enough to become hot. We arrive back at Arjun’s village. The jeep is waiting for us on the road. I shake Arjun and the two boys’ hands before searching through my backpack to look for some parting gifts. I give Arjun my remaining cigarettes, my torch to one of the boys and a pack of playing cards to the other. They seemed to be pretty chiffed. We pile back into the car and drive off through the desert. 

I ask the driver if he saw the storm last night. He looks at me with his eyes stretched wide open, gesturing with his hands above his head to indicate that his ‘mind was blown’. I laugh. He laughs. The weird Asian couple in the back look tired and fragile, I don’t think they enjoyed the trip that much. We drive through the desert with the windows down, listenting to strange indian gypsy music.  We make it back to the golden city by dawn.