We recently were lucky to meet the founders behind 100cameras – an NYC-based non-profit that seeks to empower kids in areas of need around the world through hands-on photography programming and storytelling. Angela Bullock and her team at 100cameras see to it that the photo stories created by the kids are shared and then turned into products. One hundred percent of proceeds from the sale of those images – like the ones you see here – are reinvested back into the communities they serve and the continuation of programs. The 100cameras team is largely made up of volunteers that are committed to teaching kids in far corners of the earth that their perspectives are important and capable of inspiring great change. In their fourth year, the team has created projects in four countries – cultivating a community of young change-makers who remain committed to the belief anything is possible. This is the 100cameras story.
“We created 100cameras based on our belief in the power of a child’s perspective – this idea that kids can impact their community for good – – – both as kids today and as adults tomorrow.
I am continually inspired by our partner organizations and the families they serve. A moment I go back to time and time again happened last year in India – our fourth project. Like the majority of the kids we work with, Divya – a fifteen year old in our class – was very shy during the beginning of the 100cameras course. She seemed reserved and removed – as if she was unsure what western foreigners could teach her about her life experience. She held a silent yet sweet-hearted hesitancy to trust that we would always be involved and providing what we claimed to do.
You see, the kids that we teach have risen above impossible circumstances. There have been times – in interviews with these kids – that I find myself pinching my leg under the table to fight back tears and the accompanying expression that might be misinterpreted as pity instead of compassion and shared sorrow. These kids have experienced hardship that no kid on earth should ever have to see or overcome. And so – – we have written photojournalism curriculum to help our kids share what they have learned from their past and, most importantly, share what they want for the future.
As the course continued and time went on, we brought Divya and the rest of the kids through an exercise called a “mind map.” The exercise asks of the kids to map out their life by drawing each year in curves of highs and lows. Divya’s map was filled with lows from loss of relatives, despair of illnesses, and losing shelter and access to her schooling – – and some peaks too in learning the art of dance and in being taken in by the Russ Children’s Home. However, when she drew the year of 2012, it was higher than any other year on her map. After the exercise, our staff try to sit with each student and talk through their highs and lows and discuss the lessons they learned from each and the story they want to tell. And when it came to 2012, Divya expressed that her high point came with 100cameras as it gave her the opportunity to help herself and others. It is a moment I will never forget because it was clear that her high was drawn at its peak BECAUSE OF HOPE!
We believe in hope that inspires action. We’ve watched, firsthand, those moments kids learn that they can have a role in making a difference through their photos. In selling their photographs, they experience ownership as part of the solution – something that invites great dignity and hope for their future. This is why we do what we do here at 100cameras.
We love what we do because the 100cameras model doesn’t just change the students and their community – it changes all of us. The photographs from the perspectives of kids tell stories of joy, love and hope. Their photographs and perspectives remind us that we, too, have a part in how we see the world.
All images in this post are credit to the kids part of Project 004 in India. We’ve teamed up with 100cameras in printing postcard packs, the wood calendar and a hardcover photo book featuring these images. To purchase, click here.