Beyond distributing information and ideas to broad audiences, mediums like radio and photography benefit those creating the content as well. For example, for many photographers, capturing scenes is not only a way to convey a situation or message, but also a method of finding their own voices.
A program called Beyond Skills, part of the Mathare Foundation, helps youth in the Mathare slums of Nairobi, Kenya through photography classes. Grantees Eric Omwanda Nehemiah and James Ndung’u noticed cases of radicalization were rising among young people in the community and wanted to find alternative ways of engaging them. The photography workshops allow the children to grow their leadership skills, express themselves and tell their own stories. The stunning photos also give people outside of their community a glimpse into the youth’s lives.
Others like Ana Karina Sandoval Cáceres and Nadia Morillo employ the medium of radio to spread a message — in their case, to “promote physical, emotional, mental and spiritual wellness.” They were awarded a grant for their radio program El Camino De La Flor De Lis based in Lima, Peru.
Not all change-makers, of course, center their work on photography or radio programs to promote their message and help their communities. Yet, when “ordinary” individuals do extraordinary things to make the world a better place, there’s still a similar result — opportunities for self-discovery and beautiful messages.
After a car accident left Michelle Hardy-Rodriguez with third-degree burns, she decided to start a nonprofit, called My Scars Are Beautiful, in Las Vegas, Nevada to provide inspiration and support for individuals who have been physically and emotionally scarred from traumatic experiences. The organization offers countless resources for people who have experienced trauma: counseling, art therapy, social events, psychological workshops, peer support groups, massage therapy, cosmetic and reconstructive surgery.
Here are 11 other recently funded projects led by individuals sending invaluable messages through their work.
Amit Arora founded Manuring It!, a mobile-enabled production and renting model for organic manure and modern farm tools in the poorest rural areas of India.
Jenny Gronemeyer and Julia Bell are two Indiana University Jacobs School of Music students who founded Classical Connections, a group matching music students with local organizations to bring the joy of music to underserved community members.
CHIDA Women’s Group, ran by Prisca Kajila in Tanzania, reaches women living with HIV and teaches them indoor mushroom cultivation. The training helps the women, who face acute malnutrition, food insecurity and poverty, learn about mushroom cultivation, harvesting, financial management and marketing.
Based in Kenya, Patrick Kitali Mutemi leads The Green Irrigation Project, which encourages the community to practice organic farming to promote both human and environmental health.
The Myanga Community-Based Solid Waste Management Project in Kenya, led by Godfrey Chemiat, collects environmentally hazardous waste materials to a community collective dumping site to decompose into organic fertilizer or be recycled into handicrafts such as baskets, toys, flower pots, rain harvesters and seedling sockets.
Akongo Benza, Achieng Betrice and Apalat Grace started the Empowering Women Project in Uganda. The project equips women with business skills and helps them undertake small businesses. The women meet and contribute a small sum of money to give to another group member who needs capital to help her business.
BeSafe Reusable Pads, an initiative in Cameroon started by Epamba Comfort with the support of Tah Sheron, engages women in the production and sale of reusable sanitary pads. The project gives young girls and women entrepreneurial skills as well as reach thousands in underserved areas who cannot afford disposable pads.
James Nathaniel, James Kirima, and Beatrice Elias lead the Bicycle Project in Tanzania to increase access to education for orphans and other vulnerable students who walk 5 to 7 kilometers to school. Having easier access to school will have ripple effects on truancy and teenage pregnancies among the students from poor families.
Nick Brodak is president of The Armstrong Gardening Club in Savannah, Georgia, a student organization that “grows plants and friendships” by promoting sustainability, healthy eating and environmental responsibility through organic gardening. Each student gets to plant, tend and harvest their produce.
The goal of Missouri based project Project Sunrise, led by Merlon Rgland, is to develop and offer day treatment services integrated within the childcare and preschool settings to stimulate and nurture children early in life (from birth to five years of age).
Roseby Chiweza is implementing a HIV prevention project along Lake Chilwa, Malawi. Provision Of HIV Prevention Information And Services To Bicycle Taxi Operators will reduce HIV infections among bicycle taxi operators in the area by establishing clubs that educate individuals about HIV prevention and condom use.