Success Stories

Through Our Own Eyes

In a conversation with Josh Meltzer, he had this to say about his award-winning work with American Hands Aiding Latin American Youth (AHALA) and A Collective for the Rights of Children (CODENI), “I began working with these organizations in 2007 while shooting a story for a paper where I worked in Virginia, where AHALA is based. That week-long project led to a year-long documentary project as a Fulbright Scholar in 2008-2009 covering the families and communities that already receive assistance from CODENI and AHALA and those that the organization is trying to have a positive influence. Part of my work involved teaching an 8-month-long photo workshop for 18 children living and working off the streets. My personal work, and that of the children in the course, culminated with two large public gallery exhibitions and television profiles on the issue of indigenous internal migration in Mexico. Government representatives attended the exhibitions and have been working with CODENI to resolve some of these problems that affect many poorer migrant families in the city including health, education and employment.”

Josh’s work received PhotoPhilanthropy’s Grand Prize for Professional Photographers in 2010 and has continued to positively impact communities in Guadalajara, Mexico and elsewhere. By using his work via multiple mediums, the organizations have been able to extend their reach. Josh’s images have sparked a larger conversation about internal migration within a country, especially Mexico. It’s important to keep this conversation going and to use work like Josh’s to inspire and motivate us into action.

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Working with Bhopal

Bhopal is not yet at peace. Twenty-five years after the Union Carbide (UC) industrial disaster, thousands of people, especially children, are still embarked on a journey of sufferance and injustice that began on the night of December the 3rd, 1984. Half a million people were exposed to the 42 tonnes of methyl isocyanate (MIC) released from the plant, while all of the safety systems failed to work due to poor maintenance.

Thousands died in its wake.

The Bhopal Medial Appeal was created to help the victims of the tragedy and counts thousands of patients. It is behind the last open federal action pending before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. It seeks damages for injury, medical monitoring and for the clean-up of water supplies.

Alex Masi, documentary photographer and multimedia journalist, sought to tell the story of the affected communities in Bhopal and how The Bhopal Medical Appeal works to help them. Alex’s powerful images were featured in the New York Times Lens blog, TIME Photos and several blogs. The visual story of The Bhopal Medical Appeal was awarded a Getty Grant for Good in 2011 after winning the 2011 Focus for Humanity NGO Assignment Fellowship.

Alex’s work now has a further reach and is bringing proper attention to the issue at hand. The Bhopal Medical Appeal has worked relentlessly for the people of Bhopal since 1994. We believe that Alex’s work will continue to bring positive attention to the organization and show the world the persistence of the Bhopal community.

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Helping Immigrant Youth Find Their Voices

Finding Voice is an innovative literacy and visual arts program dedicated to helping refugee and immigrant youth in English as a Second Language (ESL) classes at Catalina Magnet High School develop their literacy and second language skills by photographing, writing, and speaking out about critical social issues in their lives and communities. Since 2007, Finding Voice has served over 400 refugee and immigrant youth.

Founders Julie Kasper and Josh Schachter have worked with students from myriad countries to help them examine through words and photographs where they came from, where they live now, and where they want to go in the future.

The impact on the students has been profound. Course evaluations show they improve literacy skills, critical thinking and self‐confidence. Students who began the project speaking little or no English with strangers finished the year with poise, confidence, and a desire to speak with others about their lives. As one student said, “I like the project because I talk about what is inside me. I hope we will create change in education, immigration and racism. I hope our movies will go around the whole world. If they ask me to do this project again I will do it because it is a big challenge to improve yourself.”

Their work has been exhibited in several Tucson & Arizona galleries, the AZ International Film Festival, and in 22 area bus stops for a year. Due to terrific response by the community and media, Julie and Josh worked with the offices of Senator John McCain, Congressman Raul Grijalva and former City Councilmember Nina Trasoff to expand the impact of the work through an exhibit at the U.S. Senate in Washington, DC. While in DC, six Finding Voice students presented their photographs, stories and immigration policy reform recommendations at a Congressional briefing in the House of Representatives.

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Raising Awareness on Cluster Munitions

Stuart Freedman and Handicap International, an international organization specializing in disability, had worked together twice in Sierra Leone before he took this assignment in Lebanon. Stuart’s photographs documented the Battle Area Clearance project and its volunteers as they worked to remove unexploded cluster munitions left from the Israeli-Lebanon War in 2006.

Stuart’s work was eventually published as a high quality photographic imprint (2000 copies) jointly funded by Handicap International and the Humanitarian Aid Department of the European Commission (ECHO). The books were given to political leaders, diplomats and media representatives during the so-called “Oslo Diplomatic Process,” a series of international disarmament conferences that lead to the signature of the international convention banning cluster munitions, in Oslo, on December 3, 2008.

Additionally, pictures from the book have been widely used in Handicap International documentation, magazines and on the association’s websites. Large banners showing a selection of pictures have been used every year since 2007 for the organization’s “Pyramid of Shoes,” an annual event to raise awareness on cluster munitions and antipersonnel landmines; as well as in Paris in the piazza of the Centre Pompidou (2007) and Bastille Square (2008-2010) in addition to Lyon in Bellecour Square (2007-2010). An image was also used as the cover of the launch of Human Rights Watch’s report Flooding South Lebanon – Israel’s Use of Cluster Munitions in Lebanon.

Place des Nations in Geneva (Switzerland), in front of the UN Headquarters
Conference on Conventional Weapons, Angers (France)
Conference on Humanitarian Demining, French Cultural Centre of Amman (Jordan)
Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Convention, Vienna (Austria)
International Conference on Cluster Munitions, Platinium Hotel in Tyre (south Lebanon)
Valpr Conference Centre, Lyon (France)

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 Putting a Human Face on the Coral Triangle

The “coral triangle,” an area of nearly 2.3 million square miles of ocean across all, or parts of, the seas of six countries in the Indo-Pacific, is currently only really known to politicians, marine biologists and industry professionals. James’ role is to put a human face on it and to show the people whose lives are intricately tied to the oceans and depend directly on its continued abundance. James chose to work with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) as they understand the humanitarian and cultural side of conservation.

James began the story living with the Bajau Laut, a group of sea nomads who took him in, taught him to speak Indonesian and how to free dive to fifty feet on a single breath of air in order to photograph them hunting with handmade spear guns. The story will continue as the WWF has just pledged to give him a very considerable budget in order to set up a communications department with the sole purpose of continuing to get indigenous voices from the coral triangle into mainstream media and conservation forums. James says it has been great working with a large organization like the WWF as they have very knowledgeable people on board. Going forward, they have the capacity to provide the financial and logistical support that is necessary for a project of this scale.

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Stuart Freedman photographs the work of Handicap International to affect Lebanese policy change

Dear PhotoPhilanthropy,

I’m happy to confirm that Handicap International prides itself on having collaborated with Stuart Freedman on several occasions, the last one to date being his reportage in south Lebanon in 2007 that resulted in a book and an exhibition, both titled ‘Clearing for Peace’. We have granted Stuart Freedman permission to use freely the outcome of this collaboration, hoping that this fantastic body of work receives as much recognition as possible.

Stuart Freedman’s photographic work about the cluster munition issue in south Lebanon has been instrumental for us to lobby decision-makers, diplomats and governmental authorities so that they decide to ban these weapons. The exhibition has travelled to major cities of the world, when and where international negotiations on cluster munitions took place. On such occasions, the book was also distributed to the people involved in the discussions and to media representatives. This series of international conferences came to a conclusion in Oslo on 3 December 2008, when an international treaty banning cluster munitions was signed.

Sylvain Ogier
External communications Manager
Handicap International

See Stuart Freedman’s Photo Essay on behalf of Handicap International

Adam Nadel’s photographs influence UN malaria policy

Malaria: Blood, Sweat, and Tears opened in April 2010 at the United Nations Headquarters Main Gallery in New York. The exhibit opened to celebrate World Malaria Day with leaders in the world of public policy and malaria control. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, HRH Princess Astrid of Belgium and Professor Awa Coll-Seck, Executive Director of Roll Back Malaria, all key figures capable of influencing major decisions relating to malaria policy, spoke at the event. According to the gallery manager, this show was one of the most successful exhibitions ever hosted at the United Nations. It is estimated that over one hundred thousand people attended. The exhibition and photographs also received a full page feature in the The New York Times Week in Review and on the cover of Science Magazine’s special malaria issue, among other outlets. In January 2011, the exhibit opens at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, with additional venues to follow. The next step will be to produce an accompanying book that can be widely distributed to funding organizations and policy makers. When printed, there is a partner committed to funding distribution to every member of Congress.

- Adam Nadel

See Adam Nadel’s Photo Essay on behalf of the Malaria Consortium

Dog Meets World partners with volunteer photographers in Zambia and Niger

Dear PhotoPhilanthropy,

Our exposure on your site is attracting some professional photographers to get involved and I just wanted to take a moment and thank you for allowing Dog Meets World, our nascent goodwill/peacemaking project, to have space on your excellent website. The project is picking up momentum….thanks in part to your organization and you.

Carolyn F. Lane, Ph.D.
Founder and President
Dog Meets World, the Photo Diplomacy Project

See Dog Meets World on PhotoPhilanthropy

Jodi and Tristan Moss in Guatemala with Peer Water Exchange

“Small-scale projects tailored to the needs of the locals and eventually owned and adopted by the community are the key to solving the water crisis” said PWX architect, Rajesh Shah. “Due to the need for change in behavior and ownership, these projects in reality only begin after the ribbon-cutting ceremony. So more eyes viewing the work and sharing the information gives us extremely vital insight into the functioning and evolution of the project years after ‘completion’”, continues Rajesh. “The decentralized collaborative network model of PWX will help solve the world’s water crisis and we are extremely grateful to PhotoPhilanthropy volunteers who beautifully document share the good work and results happening in remote places with the world.”

To read more about this collaboration, visit the full press release.

See Tristan Moss’ Photo Essay on behalf of Blue Planet Network/PWX