Give A Child A Camera And Save The World

By: CNN Posted By: Stephanie Schultz
By: CNN Posted By: Stephanie Schultz

(CNN) -- The eyes of a child see things differently than an adult. It's an idea that intrigued four young women in college. "If you could give a child a camera, they could tell a reality in a way that a foreigner, or even an adult, could not," co-founder Angela Francine Bullock says. Several years later, they turned that idea into a way to help children around the world and founded the nonprofit 100cameras.

The concept is simple. 100cameras staff members travel to countries armed with cameras. They partner with a local organization serving children in the community. For the next few weeks, they teach the children how to take photographs. Then they set those children free to capture their world and post the photos online.

For the kids, sharing their life with the rest of the world is a reward in itself, but 100cameras goes one step further. The photographs are available for sale, and 100% of the profits go back to the children's organizations.

It's about "addressing poverty from the inside out, instead of the outside in," says Bullock, who is now the company's Public Relations Director. "We partner with a local organization that is on the ground. They know the local needs ... and they know the best ways to serve these children and their families."

The group's first mission was to an orphanage in Sudan. The photographs were so powerful, they decided to turn their New York apartment into an art gallery, moving furniture into bedrooms, and invited anyone they knew. "From there we said we have to do more, and that's been our mindset ever since. We always just need to do more." says Bullock.

Since that 2008 trip to Sudan, they have brought their cameras to Cuba and taught kids in New York. In October, they are making the journey to India. What was once a side project for a group of friends now has almost 20 members and recently hired its first full-time employee.

Photographs from these trips have brought thousands of dollars to the children's organizations. Bullock says they have a lot of freedom as a small group to address each community's needs individually. "That's the great part of our model. We get to have the conversation with the organization and ask, 'What do you need?'"

In Sudan it was lifelines, like food and medicine. In New York it was educational needs, after-school learning and computers. Cuba's greatest need was humanitarian aid like food and medicine, but the community also needed a center where the children's parents could be taught business classes.

100cameras raised $17,000 for the Sudanese orphanage. It was used for critical maintenance to get a truck running that brings in food and medicine. The money was also used to build a fence that keeps them protected from violence of rebel forces in the region.

The staff says they are overjoyed by the fact that these kids are creating their own success. Bullock says, "It's really exciting for kids there to see these changes and to feel an ownership in that."

The goal is to have their cameras stretch around the globe, and for the impact to continue to be both economic and personal. "We want as many kids as possible empowered with the idea and concept that their perspective matters. To know it's their work that can create change in their own communities."

For more information visit 100cameras.org


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