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Thumbs Up Foundation

The Thumbs Up Foundation is an ANBI accredited non-profit foundation established in the Netherlands and a partner to the Earth Charter Initiative. The mission of the Thumbs Up Foundation is to create awareness among individuals, with a special focus on young people, of the necessity of building towards a just, sustainable, and peaceful global society for current and future generations. In collaboration with Spektor Storytelling, the Thumbs Up Foundation has launched Thumbs Up Africa as its first media project, which will be followed by similar projects in the future (e.g. Thumbs Up Americas).

The Thumbs Up Foundation is supported by its Committee of Recommendation: Dr.H.C. Ruud Lubbers, former prime-minister of the Netherlands and former High Commissioner for Refugees of the UN; Razeena Omar, former manager of WWF South Africa; Farid Tabarki, presenter, concept developer of media formats for NPS and chief-editor of the Coolpolitics Foundation; Dirk Janssen, Dutch Youth representative to the UN.

First Project

About Thumbs Up

The concept of ‘sustainable development’ is increasingly known and used in our global society. It has become the ‘buzzword’ of the 21st century. However, the real implications of this concept remain unclear, as wars are still being waged, human rights violated, and the effects of climate change and an unequal distribution of wealth and resources are characterizing societies worldwide. Fundamental changes are needed in our ways of thinking and living. This requires a global awareness that the time for change is now! But how can you get people from all over the world to be aware of this? It is time for a new approach, it is time for something that has never been done before, something that goes beyond people’s expectations. No lectures, no workshops, it is time to get the broader audience involved through a dynamic, interactive and adventurous approach of sustainability: a hitchhike journey of 15 000 kilometers, from the Netherlands to South Africa, to raise awareness on sustainable development in an unprecedented way and give a face to this intangible concept.

In October 2012, Christiaan, Neda and Sierd embarked on the journey of their lives as they traveled across the continent of Africa to give a face and focus to sustainable development in our global society. They departed from Groningen, the Netherlands, and arrived exactly 100 days later in Cape Town, South Africa. During this trip, the hitchhikers have been confronted with the effects of war, ecological degradation, and social and economic injustice. They have not only encountered these problems in the daily lives of the people they met, but by doing hands-on grassroots voluntary work in development and humanitarian aid projects, the hitchhikers worked side by side with the people working on these issues and experienced where the difficulties and opportunities lay in reaching a just, sustainable and peaceful future for all. By giving an insight in the daily reality of so many, Thumbs Up wanted to reach those people who at this moment feel indifferent towards the concept of sustainable development. For them, ‘sustainability’ will get a name, a face, a focus!

To lift the impact from the local level to a broader scale, people from all over the world have joined in on this adventurous and fully interactive journey through television, internet and radio. Both the hitchhikers and followers have encountered an amazing variety of people, cultures, and landscapes. They have immersed in the daily lives and experiences of the people they met by sharing a ride over the savanna and through the jungle, staying at homes in big cities and tribal communities, and working together to move towards a just, sustainable and peaceful future. Everyone worldwide was invited to make a stand and become part of Thumbs Up Africa. In an unprecedented way, the whole journey was made interactive through for instance a multimedia platform in which the followers could directly ask their questions and take part in discussions with the hitchhikers, the people they met on their journey and the aid workers. Following the journey through short online videos and the documentary series thereby became a unique viewing experience in which the followers felt as if they were travelling through these areas themselves.

From the ancient pyramids to the impressive Victoria Falls, from rural life to crowded suburbs, from the scars of war to the impact of climate change, the adventurous journey’s goal was to get people and especially youth engaged, to get us thinking, talking, to actively consider our role and place in the world. By making this experience a personal and fully interactive one, we can start living up to our potential as ambassadors of change, each in our own place, but together in a common goal. It was an enormous challenge with a message of great importance!

Thumbs Up platforms

Our Vision


The VisionThe Thumbs Up Foundation (TUF) envisions a world in which people live in a way that sustains both the environment and a global society which respects universal human rights, social and economic justice, political inclusion, diversity and a culture of peace.


The mission of The Thumbs Up Foundation is to raise awareness with young individuals for the necessity to build towards a just, sustainable and peaceful global society for present and future generations.


The Thumbs Up Foundation its strategy is to raise awareness for the necessity to build towards a just, sustainable and peaceful global society in an adventurous, young, dynamic and interactive way for young individuals by making the effects of unsustain­able ways of living — such as war, an unequal distribution of wealth and resources, and a disrespect for ecological integrity — and the actions undertaken in the struggle against these effects visible on an international scale by hitchhiking across continents, engaging in intercultural dialogue and connecting young individuals worldwide.

Values and Principles

The values and principles under which the Thumbs Up Foundation works are those as described in the Earth Charter declaration.


The Idea

Thumbs Up Africa was born when one of the board members, Roy Tjan, decided that it was time to combine his passions for hitchhiking, Africa, humanitarian and development aid. Being an active hitchhiker and traveler himself, Roy wanted to realize one of his dreams and organize a hitchhike journey through the continent of Africa, while raising awareness for sustainable development.

His passion and love for Africa have been established during his own travels in Africa where he himself participated in local projects to contribute to a better life there. When the decision was made that now was the time to organize such an event, Roy started to see if he could find young ambitious people that could help him in the realization of his dream. He eventually found six students who helped him to research whether organizing such an event was even possible.

For a period of six months, different elements of Thumbs Up Africa were critically analyzed and assessed and when all information was combined together, it was clear that organizing such a journey would be challenging, but was most certainly possible. As a result, in January 2011, the Thumbs Up Foundation was born and tasked with its first media project: Thumbs Up Africa!

© 2011-2013 Thumbs Up Africa. Web design and development by Knalblauw.
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