For over two decades, I’ve focused on environmental and development issues as human welfare greatly influences the environmental landscape, and vice versa. I try to work from both ends of this spectrum.
In life, I am just a student, and an activist. I can’t help exploring, investigating, and learning about the world and the conditions in which we live in. My instincts are to get down into the nitty gritty. When I
get there, I often find myself trying to do whatever it is I can do to be the change I want to see. This link gives you a glimpse of what I do, www.debbyng.net.
Debby Ng, Photojournalist
After learning to SCUBA dive and having discovered the wild reefs of Singapore, I grew concerned about the sluggish interest in our reefs and islands amidst ever increasing coastal development. With the encouragement of my friend and mentor, Sivasothi (a senior lecturer with the Department of Biological Sciences at the National University of Singapore), I set out on what seemed like a personal awareness campaign that soon grew into a volunteer organisation, The Hantu Blog. This non-profit organization is the first of its kind in Singapore that brings members of the public out diving in Singapore waters. Check out this website, www.pulauhantu.sg to find out more about us.
The Himalayan Mutt Project is my latest endeavour for animals, wildlife, and people of Nepal’s Himalaya. Our aims are simple - to reduce the community dog population in the high Himalayas. The repercussions are profound with the growing mutts population. We want the Himalayan communities to be free from the fear of rabies infections and dog attacks on themselves and their livestock. And for the native wildlife to continue to be a part of this unique natural landscape. The reason it hasn’t already been done is because the challenges are plenty and the costs are super high. Because of these barriers, the dog population has been left to explode and the potential impact on the wilderness would be irreversible. Connect on facebook, www.facebook.com/himalayanmuttproject to keep up to date with the latest developments at the Himalayas.
In 2005, I commemorated the 1st Anniversary of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, with my collection of images from the east coast of India. This was my debut solo photo exhibition at the prestigious Epson Epsite Gallery.
In 2009, my debut photo book “Life of my Sisters”, a collaborative work with photojournalist, Edwin Koo (http://www.edwinkoo.com), was published. The book is a study of the processes and nuances of female education in Nepal, a nation where many girls and women are still deprived of an education. For book purchase, http://www.selectbooks.com.sg/getTitle.aspx?SBNum=049055.
I compared this against another list I had made at the same time. The latter track is the society’s perception of track to success. I recalled feelings of no passion, no excitement, no motivation. It was not a bad track, it just wasn’t what I was looking for. We should allow ourselves the time, space, and flexibility, to discover our own track—to recognise that we have strengths and passions that can be nurtured.
I embraced the challenges before me, and finally, after 4 months of preparation, on 29th April 2014, I witnessed the neutering of the first mutt—I felt choked and I was overcome with emotion. Today, this project is now into its ninth month and already eight of the nine villages we worked in have remained cull-free! In a single project, we have saved over 200 dogs! As the project continues, I still try to find time to pause and smell the flowers so that I can sustain doing the work that I love.
The lessons I’ve learned through the project and my life journey, can be summarised in a few quotes:
Joy is not a sin. Sacrifice is not a virtue. - Paulo Coelho
Never let the odds keep you from pursuing what you know in your heart you were meant to do. - Satchel Paige
Believe in What I Do:
I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I woke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy. - Rabindranath Tagore
One can Make a Difference:
I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do. - Helen Keller
And the most valuable words that I live by every time when I embark on a new project:
To borrow the words of Mattias Klum, “I’ve learned that the sensitivity I once thought of as a weakness has become one of my best professional assets. Once I get involved in something I see, I can't back away. When I am moved, I have to succeed because the work has become a part of me. Thoughtfulness begins with seeing. My job as a photographer is to make that seeing easier.”
Success is more permanent when we achieve it without destroying our principles. - Walter Cronkite