Photo: Matilde Simas

From long, uncomfortable trips to challenging accommodations, humanitarian travel isn’t typically glamorous. Massachusetts-based social documentary photographer and Capture Humanity founder Matilde Simas recently traveled to Imvepi Refugee Settlement in Uganda to explore the ways that children are exploited due to war.

After an 18-hour plane ride and an overnight stay in Entebbe, she embarked on a 90-minute flight to Arua followed by a bumpy 90-minute drive to the settlement. During her time at the settlement, Matilde stayed in a tent with only the most basic of amenities-no flush toilets, bucket showers, and meals of mainly rice and beans. …

Photo by Prasoon Raj on Unsplash

“Watch us come back with a dog,” I joked to my partner as we packed our things for four months on Mexico’s Pacific coast. As it turned out, it was less of a joke than I thought.

When you think of Mexico, dogs probably aren’t the first thing that comes to mind. But outside of the resorts and villas that most tourists associate with Mexico, things are different.

The country has the largest number of street dogs in Latin America. The National Institute of Statistics and Geography estimates that about 70 percent of the 18 million dogs in Mexico live…

Banisteriopsis caapi, the vine used in ayahuasca brews
Banisteriopsis caapi, the vine used in ayahuasca brews
Banisteriopsis caapi, the vine used in ayahuasca brews, photo by By CostaPPPR [CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikim]

Used by Indigenous tribes in the Amazon for medicinal purposes for centuries, it’s only in the last 50 years or so that Westerners have come to learn about ayahuasca. La medicina, as it’s often known, is part of a multimillion dollar industry taking hold in South and Central America: plant medicine tourism.

Ayahuasca, Quechua for “spirit vine,” is an entheogenic brew derived from two Amazonian plants: the Banisteriopsis caapi vine and a shrub called Psychotria viridis, known in Peru as chacruna. The two work together to allow the user to experience the hallucinogenic effects of the medicine. …

A male orangutan in Gunung Leuser National Park (photo by Jessica Barrett)

Six and a half million acres. That’s the size of Indonesia’s Leuser Ecosystem, one of the most ancient and biodiverse places ever documented and the last place on Earth where Sumatran rhinos, tigers, elephants, orangutans, and sun bears roam freely together. It’s being clear-cut at an alarming rate, with 606 acres cleared in the lowland rainforests alone during the first quarter of this year.

There’s a lot at stake here. The deforestation affects everyone from the communities living in and around the ecosystem to the species — some of which are critically endangered — that call it home. Even the…

Jessica Barrett

Jessica is a freelance writer and editor from Toronto who specializes in creating content for nonprofits in human rights, conservation, and health care.

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