TEDxCanberra to explore the notion of Lost/Found

Lottie Twyford 6 July 2021
Woman sticking Post-it note on a wall

The TEDxCanberra event on 8 August will be a day when big ideas are shared. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

The three red letters of TED have become synonymous with the spread of innovative ideas across the globe. Ideas that are worth spreading, as TEDxCanberra event organisers might say.

TED – which stands for technology, entertainment and design – is very much a global movement which started life as a simple conference event back in 1984. Now, the ‘x’ at the end of events means it’s been independently organised and run.

At TEDxCanberra, ACT locals and their stories are set to be highlighted.

The 2021 event has a theme of Lost/Found and will be held on Sunday, 8 August, at Kambri at ANU. It will feature a diverse range of speakers who will present on a wide variety of topics including fatherhood; artificial intelligence; creativity; youth and First Nations advocacy; the future of aged care; literacy; gender equality; climate change; and changing the way we think about earning money.


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As is the standard format of a TED event, each of the speakers is recognised as an expert within their field with something insightful, unique and informed to say.

The Lost/Found theme is one that speaker Alfred Chidembo says is fitting when he considers his charity work which takes what can be considered as lost, or trash, and turns it into treasure. He will take to the stage to speak about the transformative power of literacy and how that has played out in his life.

The youngest of seven children, Alfred was born in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, and grew up in the remote rural village of Mudzi, where he had to walk 5km barefoot to school each day, and without any books to read or write in, he learnt to write in sand.

More than 20 years later, after achieving his dream of obtaining a PhD, he set up Aussie Books for Zim, a charity that aims to improve literacy outcomes for children in Zimbabwe by sending scores of donated books to the country.

Alfred Chidembo sitting with two women

Alfred Chidembo will speak about how literacy can change the world at TEDxCanberra. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

“Literacy allowed me to end up where I am and to go through a journey of discovery and success,” says Alfred.

“Now I’ve gone full circle to be able to share the same gift with children who are in the same situation.”

Alfred says we can sometimes take literacy for granted when “books are all around us and we all know how to read, and we can get information whenever and however we feel like it simply by going to Google and reading articles”.

He explains it is a privilege that is not the norm for everyone, and why Aussie Books for Zim is so important.

“If you do not have access to books and you cannot read, your growth is limited,” says Alfred.


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“When you can read, you can travel around the world and discover so much. You can empower yourself to dream beyond what you could previously have imagined.”

In the lead up to TEDxCanberra, Alfred says he is feeling excited to share his story and his passion.

“Everybody should have access to books, and I want to raise awareness as to how much of a no-brainer that concept is, and just how powerful literacy can be – how it can really change lives,” he says.

“When I page through books, I get excited because I can recollect different memories and I see myself reading them. I imagine myself as a kid who had never seen a picture book where the images pop out at you.

Alfred Chidembo surrounded by children in Zimbabwe

Alfred Chidembo hard at work delivering the treasure of books in Zimbabwe. Photo: Alfred Chidembo.”Books really are treasure, even if they don’t feel like it to us.”

Alongside Alfred’s inspiring story, there will be other talks delivered at TEDxCanberra as well as a performance from the Australian Voice Collective.

Attendees will also have the opportunity to participate in an interactive discovery workshop.

To purchase tickets or for more information, visit TEDxCanberra 2021: Lost/Found.


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