The December Stories are a series of first-hand accounts of our community’s work on important causes and issues around the world. Today, we’re proud to spotlight 100cameras, who we have partnered with and supported for the better part of ONA’s history; last year, we collaborated on a special version of our Prince Street messenger bag, with a portion of proceeds going to 100cameras. Co-founder Angela Francine Popplewell explains their unique model and how it grew in 2016.
I am a founder of 100cameras, a NGO that teaches kids around the world that their stories matter and helps them explore their narrative in the larger context of a global world. We teach our students how to share their perspectives through photography and then sell their images, empowering them to provide much needed educational, lifeline, and medical supplies for themselves and other community members. Purchases and contributions are more than just financial — our kids have learned the power of their perspective, and in sharing their work, they have seized the opportunity to have a positive impact within their own backyard. And that is our goal: to empower kids to realize they can create tangible change, one community at a time. As kids today and adults tomorrow.
The students we work with have all survived traumatic injustices, yet, they still seem to embrace life through the wonderment and awe that is seemingly found only through a kid’s lens. Through writing and teaching our photojournalism course, I have been inspired by watching kids learn how to share their perspectives, process who they are because of all they’ve learned from their past, and express their hope for who they want to be in their future. There is much to be learned from how they fully embrace that their narrative isn’t defined by their current circumstances or how others may define them, but instead, they choose to recognize and accept that they are a part of a larger context and their role in the bigger picture is integral. This gives them great freedom to lean into the thought — the hope — that they can be a part of the greater good at large. To be a part of helping teach kids that their lens for how they see their community is important, and that they can meet important needs by sharing their stories through photography will always be one of the greatest honors of my life.
Above and below, photos taken by 100cameras participants
This year, 100cameras has launched brand new programming that is aimed at equipping passionate individuals worldwide with the tools and curriculum to implement their own 100Cameras project in communities they care about. Through these Educational Workshops and Snapshot Projects platforms, we have successfully packaged up our model to enable us to reach more kids in more communities and teach them that their stories are important and that they can make a difference for themselves and fellow community members. Our ultimate goal over the coming years is to equip hundreds of people to lead projects worldwide – and thus, impact thousands more kids.
One of my most memorable moments this year was when we completed the first round of betas for this initiative. I was overwhelmed with a complex mix and wide array senses including pride, humility, excitement, and responsibility for our commitment to continue to build and further this mission. It has been a long-term team dream for years to see this vision for equipping others to lead their own projects come to life, and so when we received the images and stories from our first ever Snapshot Project leader in Thailand, tears were brought to my eyes. So much work and heart from our team went into building this, and the first project far succeeded our plans and even our imaginations. I took a moment to myself to reflect in stillness and gratefulness about how and why this has become such a huge part of my life for a reason that is so much bigger than my individual experience in this world, and to remind (and pinch) myself with the excitement that the best is still yet to come.
Learn more at 100cameras.org, and view/purchase the students’ photos in their online shop. Help share the story of 100cameras and the students’ perspectives by following on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.