Danielle & Olivier Föllmi
A couple and a family
“Wisdoms of Humanity” is the result of the meeting between a man and a woman bound by the same vision of humanity: an extraordinary destiny where life and works intertwine.
While Olivier, an adventurer of wild open spaces, discovers the world through his lens, Danielle, an explorer of thought, studies the world and tries to understand it.
- Danielle Pons Föllmi, after a childhood spent in Salvador and Central America, came to France where she studied medicine. She became an anaesthetist physician, using her medical experience to work on three continents. A researcher at heart, constantly seeking out the values and meaning of each culture, she was behind the intellectual and literary approach of the project and of the Wisdoms of Humanity collection.
- Olivier Follmi, photographer, was born in 1958 in the region of Haute-Savoie, France. At the age of 17, he discovered the Himalayas where he was to travel far and wide for more than 30 years. In 1989, the account of his journey with Danielle on the Frozen River received the World Press Photo award and he gained international renown with the Wisdoms collection. He became a lecturer for the Connaissances du Monde travel conference organisation.
The couple was awarded the Vermeille medal by the Société d’Encouragement au Progrès. They then went on to create the association HOPE that promotes sustainable development and education in the world’s most isolated regions.
In the winter of 1981, they set off for Zanskar together, risking their lives, the first of a long series of journeys. In 1989, they undertook the education of two children, Motup and Diskit, who they accompanied to school along the Frozen River. Then, in 1991-1992, while Danielle was organising the healthcare coverage of Tibetan refugees in India, they adopted Yvan Tharpa Tsering (5 years old) and Léonore Pema Yangdon (4 years old).
In 2002 Himalaya Bouddhiste, written with Matthieu Ricard, would be the couple’s first best-seller. The year after saw the publication of Offrandes, 365 pensées de Maîtres bouddhistes,of which more than 300,000 copies were sold, followed by the six volumes of the Wisdoms of Humanitycollection that would make them famous. Olivier used this story to make a film that he called My Lifebefore filing for divorce.