People of Change documents the work of NGOs and individuals committed to the betterment of their communities. We believe positive examples inspire change and can foster worldwide solutions.

 

Poc-1

Quarterly News :: April 2014

Another quarter, and yet, a full semester has gone by since we last shared our news.

We started our fourth year committed to continue doing our work and, most importantly, in consolidating ourselves as a registered organization. There are several alternatives we’ve been considering, but essentially we’ve been focusing our time and energy on raising our seed capital to cover initial costs.

Several people are intrigued by the idea of an organization that helps other organizations. The principle is rather simple: organizations and projects need a tool to properly communicate their efforts. This tool can help obtain more funding and more volunteers (pretty much, the very basic idea behind any marketing strategy; except that the third sector operates on a different market).

The tool we’ve chosen to help with this communication are short documentaries. People of Change has created an expertise and its own visual language that has been proven to work. In the past years, we’ve had incredible feedback from all organizations we’ve worked with. Also, in order to create a greater impact, we created a full communication strategy to make sure that the documentaries are reaching the right people. The strategy involves on-site events, online campaigns and media outreaching.

All this work, however, is done on a volunteer basis. Hence, we use our expertise and knowledge to support organizations and ideas that we believe are worth the cause. Nonetheless, our current demand is greater than the amount of work the team can dedicate to the project. The only solution then is to find an alternative to cover basic operating costs, which could be reverted into more productions.

We actually had several discussions in the past on whether we should become a social company or a not for profit organization. After much debate, we’ve chosen the latter because we also believe that the whole volunteering experience, especially for those who work with media production, can indeed be transformative and show the power that lies in the hands of those who produce content.

Hopefully, by next semester, we’ll be able to share news as an actual registered organization. Until then, we’ll continue doing our work with the time we have.

Once upon a time…

“Once upon a time…” These words spontaneously evoke our childhood. We listened attentively to these stories, sometimes even falling asleep quietly, that deeply shaped our perception of the world and our interpretation of social norms, affecting the way we imagined new worlds and adventures.

Though in most societies the written tradition has the monopoly of legitimacy, some societies still have as essential basis an oral tradition, despised for far too long. These last years, many initiatives have been highlighting a renewal of interest in the oral tradition.

The Afghan culture is notably based on storytelling, which accounts for a way of expression and transmission deeply rooted in the society. It serves as a bridge between the old and the younger generations, and as a tool of harmonious social development; in a post-conflict context, it also serves a tool of peace building.

Peacebuilding does not just depend on political and economical issues. In order to make peace sustainable, it is essential to create peace in the hearts, souls and minds.

“The power of a story can be enough to power change,” as it’s claimed by the Qessa Academy. Qessa, which means “traditional stories”, is a wonderful organization led by a great woman, Selene Biffi, an Italian social entrepreneur. This organization offers a school for storytellers in Afghanistan. Their mission is to keep the traditional storytelling alive as a catalyst for sustainable peace, to build stronger societies, and to “revive traditional storytelling to craft a new narrative for Afghanistan”. The school is a place for the elderly storytellers to transmit their love and their skills to the next generations. Moreover, they continue to do great work by archiving and digitalizing traditional stories, the story of the country’s history, and placing folk archives alongside more traditional historical sources.

The core principle of this action is the “moral imagination,” an innovative concept developed by Lederach, who describes it as the capacity to imagine something rooted in the challenges of the real world, yet capable of giving birth to that which does not yet exist – peace – and to tell the story of new opportunities and a better future.

The role of art and culture has to be reconsidered in global politics. By imagining and generating constructive responses and initiatives, that transcend the challenges of violence and work to break the grips of destructive stereotypes and cycles of violence, they power the change.

POC Reunites :: EHRA

Can you believe that it’s been over four years since we documented the first organization? Many great memories behind, and most importantly, many friends that we met along the way. Yes, we are getting old and starting to reminisce… and we like that! Throughout these years, the organizations we’ve documented continued their work, and some changes have occurred since then. We decided it was about time to get back on track, and see which were these changes (and if our documentaries have been of any help)!

To start with, the amazing Namibian organization Elephant – Human Relations Aid. We won’t get into too much details about them since we have a full awesome original documentary about their work. We reconnected with Rachel Harris, who was our first contact, back in 2010, when we approached them offering our help. Thanks for trusting us, Rach!

Let’s see where they are.

POC :: When we visited, the main programs of the organization regarded the construction of walls to protect water sources and the monitoring and tracking of desert-dwelling elephants. Were there any changes to these programs?

Rachel Harris :: No, this is still what we are doing. We also continue with the PEACE project and on the elephant patrols, we collect dung from the elephants for a genetics project; we want to see which bulls are responsible for breeding. We think that our main large bull Voortrekker is the only breeding bull and therefore want to prove this; it is important to justify our stance that hunting of the desert elephants is not sustainable.

POC :: Most of the work was carried out with the support of volunteers, who come from all over the world, and stay for a minimum of 2 weeks. Were there any changes to the structure of the volunteer programs? Have you seen an increase of people interested in volunteering for EHRA? 

RH :: We still carry on in the same way. We won an award: the Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Award for best volunteering organization, which has helped people to hear about us.

POC :: When we were there, there were significant changes that could be observed regarding the preservation of desert elephants. After these three years, were there any other significant results that can be highlighted? 

HR :: Because of conflict with humans and because of the shooting of so-many so called ‘problem elephants’, the population density is actually lower now than it was when the elephants returned to the area after the poaching years. For the desert elephants, the populations are very very low.

POC :: Did the documentary help in any particular way?

HR :: I think it’s great that we have it on the website and I think a lot of potential volunteers watch it before deciding to come out here. So yes, it really did!!

Glad to hear we’ve contributed a bit to the awesome changes they’ve been engaged for over 20 years.

New Door

Business isn’t just about profit.

That is one of the mottos of one of San Francisco’s most exciting non-profits: New Door. New Door Ventures’ mission is simple: to prepare at-risk youth for work and life. Beginning as an organization focused on the homeless in 1981, New Door has refocused its energy into providing internships, job training, and other life skills to teenagers and young adults in San Francisco. Like many large, urban cities, San Francisco has a high rate of unemployment, lack of education, and crime. In order to give young people in the city a chance, New Door creates job internships with local business partners to teach participants new skills, keep them off the street, and get them on the road to a career. And the program has been successful. 86% of internship graduates go on to full-time employment or continuing education within six months.

However, New Door can provide more than just an internship or a job. It has often provided a way out of a desperate situation. That was the case for Richie, a program graduate who found New Door at a time when he was near rock bottom. After battling with dyslexia for most of his life, Richie gave up on school and dropped out his sophomore year of high school, which caused his dad to give up on him. Richie’s father abandoned him, leaving him without anyone and living on the street. Eventually he hitched a ride to San Francisco, where he slept on the couch of a friend for months. He had no family, no education, no job, and seemingly no hope. That is when he found New Door. There he was given a job at Pedal Revolution, a bike shop owned by the non-profit. He was paired with an academic tutor and is on his way to finishing his GED. He now pays rent for his own place and has plans to go to college someday.

If you are inspired by Richie’s story and would like to support young people like him, you can visit their website to see how you can get involved. There are many ways to offer assistance above and beyond simply donating money. The services of copywriters, photographers, and videographers are requested to help spread the word of the success stories. Website marketing expertise and email marking optimization is desired as well. Local volunteers can donate their time to tutoring youth or helping with mock interviews. Local businesses are asked to consider opening up intern positions. Help New Door give young people a chance who may have never had one before.