She "woke up" at 58, recognizing how corruption and greed hurt Spain's prosperity. She decided to do something about it as an activist and Digital Journalist. Read more about Anne Sewell's adventurous life and career in this exclusive profile.
Be the change you want to see in the world, Ghandi said. Two years ago Sewell, a contributor on Digital Journal since June 2010, took that quote to heart and decided she wanted to play a role in peaceful protests. "While we have different cultures and languages, we are all citizens of the same world," she says in an interview. "Everyone is pretty much on the same page, trying to help each other and to make the world a better place."
A resident of Fuengirola, Spain, she recently joined the Spanish 15m movement, so named because they initially started protesting throughout Spain on May 15 last year. They rally "against government and political corruption, and now also about the austerity measures introduced in the country," Sewell explains.
She also joined the local group “Fuengirola Despierta” (Fuengirola awakes) last year and has attended several protest marches in Malaga city. "When we march, it's a lot of fun," she recalls.
Courtesy Anne Sewell
A young Anne Sewell and her brother Richard in England
Sewell, 59, never used to be so passionate about activism. She enjoyed a simple but travel-heavy childhood: she was born in the U.K. and grew up in Malawi. She remembers, "There was no TV in Malawi in those days, so we pretty much entertained ourselves, which is not a bad thing. In the school holidays, we had lots of parties, barbeques and movie nights at friends’ houses. I have great memories of swimming in Lake Malawi."
After a few years at boarding school in Malawi, her parents moved to Rhodesia, but she found it difficult to get a good higher education there, so she attended a local polytechnic and completed "a rather boring secretarial course." The course came in handy, though, after she found positions as a legal secretary at a couple of different firms of attorneys in Salisbury, Rhodesia.
Welcome to South Africa
She then switched residency again, moving to Johannesburg, South Africa to work as a secretary at several firms and then later landed a job at Rennies Travel, where she trained staff in the use of Windows 3.1, Word, Excel and Outlook Express. Thing is, Rennies made a mistake in sending Sewell to Cape Town because she soon fell in love with the city and decided to move there.
Courtesy Anne Sewell
Digital Journalist Anne Sewell (right) and her friend Pam with dogs
"I took a job at a software training college in Cape Town, which proved to be extremely stressful," Sewell says, "as I was teaching all the popular word-processing and spreadsheet packages and basic Windows to up to 30 people at a time. After 3 months, I decided enough was enough, and I became self-employed."
She adds, "I have always found it difficult working for someone else."
At first, the divorced mother of one designed and printed business cards, flyers, greeting cards, menus. But for the last 15 years, she's worked in the online travel business and with several travel-related websites, such as allworld-vacation.com, a global travel guide.
"Being self-employed, while it can be stressful money-wise, is the best for me," Sewell says. "I work my own hours from home and can take a break whenever I want... I can even write an article on Digital Journal in the middle of the day when interesting news comes in. Definitely the way to go."
Courtesy Anne Sewell
Digital Journalist Anne Sewell with her son Mark
Luring her to Spain
The crime rate began to creep into her middle-class Cape Town community, Sewell explains, and unpleasant experiences soon rankled her. She lived beside an apartment that turned out to be the home for Congolese drug dealers. Her doorbell would sometimes ring at 5 a.m. from junkies looking for a fix, ending up at the wrong apartment. It wasn't the peaceful place she envisioned.
In 2003, she moved to Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol in Andalucia, Southern Spain with her son Mark and her three dogs. "We moved here because my parents had to return to the U.K., and we wanted to be within easy reach, but couldn’t face the English weather," she notes.
Later in the decade, Sewell decided to join Digital Journal to convey information about the Spanish Revolution happening in her country. "I thought it would be a great way to get the word out to a wider range of people globally. At that stage, there was virtually nothing in the mainstream media about the movement," Sewell says.
While the subject of the protests is serious, "it is just so much darn fun protesting in Malaga – the music, the drumming, the friendship and the sheer exhilaration of being among thousands of like-minded people is amazing and really gets the adrenalin going," Sewell gushes.
She credits Digital Journal for being a "great place to publish information that you would not normally see in the mainstream media." She contributes a fair share of reporting to Digital Journal, penning around 587 articles in the past two years. She's covered the 15m movement in Spain, viral videos, WikiLeaks updates, GMO controversies and many more. She prefers to write on important political or world news, the kind of topics that get her riled up.
As for what she enjoys reading, she likes learning about environmental stories and animal-related activist news courtesy of Elizabeth Batt. "I also really like when JohnThomas writes about science and space," she adds.
News by the people, for the people
On her role in the media landscape, she says, "As the mainstream media only selectively reports on events, citizen journalists are definitely extremely important in keeping balance in the news and getting the truth out."
Courtesy Anne Sewell
Digital Journalist Anne Sewell (left) during a protest march
Part of that storytelling is explaining the economic situation bruising her country. Spain is undergoing a crisis, she says, "As more and more people lose their jobs, and prices increase ...people have less and less buying power."
She reminds us how Spaniards are witnessing the economic downturn daily: "Here in Fuengirola, every time you walk around another corner, there is yet another empty shop."
On a more hopeful note, Sewell says she's looking forward to doing more travelling...if her schedule and finances allow it. "My biggest wish is to win the lottery and travel the world.... I would love to visit the major cities in Italy including the ruins at Pompeii, the Pyramids of Egypt, the Mayan and Inca ruins and so many other fascinating places."