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Giving the homeless a voice

Homeless people are perhaps the most marginalized group in society. Those who sleep rough on the street are often ignored by the wider public, but Paris local Martin Besson has more empathy than most.

Despite having a home to go to, the 18-year-old chose to spend a night on the street to see what it was like to be homeless. The experience was confronting, and spurred the high school student into action. Last year he launched Sans A, an organization that aims to draw attention to the plight of homeless people – by giving them a voice on social media.

Martin spends his free time getting to know the less fortunate in Paris, and uploading their stories for the public to read. The idea, he says, is to break down the barriers between homeless people and the rest of society.

Listen to the report by Fabien Jannic-Cherbonnel in Paris. 

 

Martin Besson

Martin Besson helps the down and out in Paris (Photo: F. Jannic-Cherbonnel)

Sans A facebook page

Sans A shares the stories and portraits of Parisian homeless people online

Martin & Cyril

Martin wants the public to get to know homeless people like Cyril (Photo: F. Jannic-Cherbonnel)

homeless

Sans A hopes to lend an ear to the less fortunate (Photo: Fotalia)

Date

Tuesday 22.04.2014 | 13:05

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Lifelong learning for kids in rural Nigeria

Simon Patrick Obi from Nigeria built a library at a school in the rural region of Ketti just outside the capital, Abuja, during his time of national youth service. But even after his obligation was finished, he went back because he saw that more needed to be done to support not only the kids’ education, but also their health.

Simon found that just building a library wasn’t enough – he is now making sure it’s being put to good use so the students there get an education that will lead to a brighter future. But that’s not all – he’s also inspiring the next generation of youth to go on an make a difference too.

Listen to the report by Nonye Aghaji in Abuja, Nigeria:

Simon says most of the students come from farming families and he feels education can make a huge difference in their lives (Photo: N. Aghaji)

Simon says most of the students come from farming families and he feels education can make a huge difference in their lives (Photo: N. Aghaji)

 

Date

Tuesday 15.04.2014 | 10:32

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Crowdfunding for clean water

Most of us wouldn’t think twice about being able to drink a glass of water whenever we want to. But having clean water on tap is a luxury almost 800 million people around the world don’t have.

The need for clean water is especially high in Uganda, as Anna Vikky found out. The 27-year-old from Dusseldorf in Germany, launched her own aid organization 2aid.org in 2009. Now she and 2aid.org are working together with a Ugandan NGO to improve access to water and sanitation in a rural region of Uganda.

It was important to Anna to find a partner project that had a grassroots approach. And her funding has also taken a similar path – she’s raised a large portion of the needed funds via social media.

Listen to the report by Natalie  Muller in Dusseldorf:

Anna Vicky's parents fled the civil war in Sri Lanka, so she has a special understanding for people in crisis situations (Photo: Falco Peters)

Anna Vicky’s parents fled the civil war in Sri Lanka, so she has a special understanding for people in crisis situations (Photo: Falco Peters)

Photographer Falco Peters created this photo series for the 2aid.org website, to convey the group’s work and the need for clean water in Uganda:

2aid-bild-06 2aid-bild-05 2aid-bild-04 2aid-bild-03 2aid-bild-02

Date

Tuesday 08.04.2014 | 13:35

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Chilean teen fights homophobia with education

Chile is one of South America’s most socially conservative countries, and discrimination against gays and lesbians is still widespread. In March 2012, 24-year-old Daniel Zamudio was tortured and murdered after his attackers learned of his sexual orientation. And, just this January, 22-year-old Esteban Parada died in a similar attack in downtown Santiago.

Alberto Cid, 18, is determined to turn the tide and put an end to bullying and discrimination in Chile. The answer, he says, lies in education. First, he became president of Movilh Joven, a gay rights activist group that targets youth, and now he’s focused on getting sexual diversity into the local schools’ curricula.

Listen to the report by Eilís O’Neill in Santiago, Chile:

 

Alberto Cid is first tackling his own high school in Santiago, where he is a member of the student government and the LGBT student group (Photo: E. O'Neill)

Alberto Cid is first tackling his own high school in Santiago, where he is a member of the student government and the LGBT student group (Photo: E. O’Neill)

Alberto attends Barros Borgoño High School in Santiago (Photo: E. O'Neill)

Alberto attends Barros Borgoño High School in Santiago (Photo: E. O’Neill)

 

 

Date

Tuesday 01.04.2014 | 10:18

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Germany’s bureaucracy buddy on the paper trail

In Germany, official paperwork like filing for unemployment benefits can be complicated. Diana Lantzen from Cologne gave up a well-paying job to help others navigate German bureaucracy – and even started advertising her services on eBay. She works with the organization Wir gehen mit (We’ll go along) and accompanies those who need it to important appointments, like at the unemployment or foreigners’ office.

Beyond that, also she’s using the IT knowledge she gained in her former job to develop web-based assistance programs in the social sector.

Listen to the report by Marcus Costello in Cologne:

Diana Lantzen

Diana used to work in IT, but found that money isn’t the most important thing in life (Photo: Diana Lantzen)

Diana (second from right) has found a way to implement her specific skill set when it comes to helping others ( Photo: M. Costello)

Diana (second from right) has found a way to implement her specific skill set when it comes to helping others ( Photo: M. Costello)

 

 

 

 

 

Date

Tuesday 25.03.2014 | 12:38

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Documenting destruction in Syria’s civil war

The civil war in Syria entered its fourth year this week. Since the conflict began in 2011, around 140,00 people have been killed, and more than 2.5 million forced to flee their homes.  

Film maker Firas Al-Shater couldn’t stand idly by while his country was torn apart. So the 23-year-old became an activist. He started going to protest rallies with his camera and recording the violence and bombed streets. He wanted to make the rest of the world sit up and pay attention.  

After several stints in prison, he was granted asylum in Germany in 2013. Although he is now far from home, Firas hasn’t stopped campaigning. His photographs have been displayed at a number of galleries in Berlin, and he’s now working on a documentary film called Syria Inside.

Listen to the report by Philip Smith in Berlin: 

  

Public protests against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad escalated into a civil war in 2011 (Photo: Firas Al-Shater)

Public protests against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad escalated into a civil war in 2011 (Photo: Firas Al-Shater)

Firas was arrested for documenting and participating in the Free Syria movement (Photo: Firas Al-Shater)

Firas was arrested for documenting and participating in the Free Syria movement (Photo: Firas Al-Shater)

Firas capturing bombed streets on film (Photo: Firas Al-Shater)

Firas behind the lens (Photo: Firas Al-Shater)

This shot captures the city of Deir ez-Zor in eastern Syria destroyed by bombing (Photo: Firas Al-Shater)

This shot captures the city of Deir ez-Zor in eastern Syria destroyed by bombing (Photo: Firas Al-Shater)

Firas’ photos have been exhibited at public galleries in his new city, Berlin (Photo: Firas Al-Shater)

Firas’ photos have been exhibited at public galleries in his new city, Berlin (Photo: Firas Al-Shater)

Date

Tuesday 18.03.2014 | 15:17

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When your mom drinks too much

Imagine coming home from school and finding your mom passed out, surrounded by empty bottles. For Louise Farragher, now 24, that was the everyday reality of her childhood in County Mayo, Ireland. She grew up detoxing her mother and looking after her younger siblings.

Today, Louise’s mother is sober and the two have founded an organization that helps other families cope with addiction. Because of the challenges experiences she’s been through, Louise is able to reach out to the children of alcoholic parents and help them through the huge responsibility that’s dropped on their shoulders.

Listen to the report by Alan Meeney in County Mayo, Ireland:

Louise is one of an estimated 100,000 children in Ireland that are affected by their parents' alcohol addition (Photo: Louise Farragher)

Louise is one of an estimated 100,000 children in Ireland that are affected by their parents’ alcohol addition (Photo: Louise Farragher)

Since shame is often associated with alcoholism, many people don't seek help in the first place (Photo: Fotolia/lassedesignen)

Since shame is often associated with alcoholism, many people don’t seek help in the first place (Photo: Fotolia/lassedesignen)

 

 

 

Date

Tuesday 11.03.2014 | 12:53

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Dancing to keep women safe

Melisa Rodrigues, a 27-year-old from Lisbon, used to work for a big international company. At some point she realized, money wasn’t the key to happiness. So she quit her job, did a Master’s degree in globalization and development and went to India to work for an NGO.

It was in India that she learned about the One Billion Rising movement – an annual dance event demanding an end to violence against women and girls all over the world.

Melisa realized that violence – particularly domestic violence – was a big problem in her home country, Portugal. So she organized a One Billion Rising event in a train station in Lisbon to raise awareness and help women affected by violence know they’re not alone.

Listen to the report by Nádia Dinis in Lisbon:

 

Melisa Rodrigues is practicing her dance moves for the One Billion Rising event (Photo: Miguel Fascinado)

Melisa Rodrigues is practicing her dance moves for the One Billion Rising event (Photo: Miguel Fascinado)

The Lisbon event drew a strong crowd of mainly woman - and a few men (Photo: Miguel Fascinado)

The Lisbon event drew a strong crowd of mainly woman – and a few men (Photo: Miguel Fascinado)

Melisa (right) is pictured with Rita, another volunteer, at the Portuguese parliament just before the One Billion Rising event (Photo: Miguel Fascinado)

Melisa (right) is pictured with Rita, another volunteer, at the Portuguese parliament just before the One Billion Rising event (Photo: Miguel Fascinado)

A former Portuguese football player hosted the event (Photo: Miguel Fascinado)

A former Portuguese football player hosted the event (Photo: Miguel Fascinado)

 

 

Date

Tuesday 04.03.2014 | 15:48

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How a ball can change a slum kid’s life

India is a country of cricket-lovers, so can soccer catch on?

Ashok Rathod is convinced that soccer is the best way to give kids growing up in the slums a second lease on life. Teamwork, leadership, respect and communication come out of the game for 22 players.

Having grown up in a Mumbai slum himself, Ashok knows exactly which problem the kids there face. Many start drinking and gambling as young as 10, he says, then get married early and drop out of school.

Committed to make a difference, Ashok founded the Oscar Foundation in 2006. The team organizes soccer practices and matches for young people – but also provides an education program aimed at giving school drop-outs basic literacy skills.

Listen to the report by Sanjay Fernandes in Mumbai:

Ashok Rathod knows first-hand what it's like to grow up in a Mumbai slum (Photo: S. Fernandes)

Ashok Rathod knows first-hand what it’s like to grow up in a Mumbai slum (Photo: S. Fernandes)

The Oscar Foundation focuses not only on soccer - but also on education programs (Photo: S. Fernandes)

The Oscar Foundation focuses not only on soccer – but also on education programs (Photo: S. Fernandes)

It was a challenge convincing parents to let their girls play soccer (Photo: S. Fernandes)

It was a challenge convincing parents to let their girls play soccer (Photo: S. Fernandes)

Suraj (right) is Oscar's associate director and Kumar (left) participated in the Oscar program and now works as a coach (Photo: S. Fernandes)

Suraj (right) is Oscar’s associate director and Kumar (left) participated in the Oscar program and now works as a coach (Photo: S. Fernandes)

 

 

 

 

 

Date

Wednesday 26.02.2014 | 07:13

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Seattle mapmaker protects local land

Ben Hughey makes maps. As a kid growing up in Alaska, he used a GPS to hike off-trail. Then, as a college junior, he combined his GPS skills with his mapmaking ability to help three indigenous communities in Ecuador create maps of their lands, which they’ll use to defend themselves against future land incursions.

Now, at age 25, Ben is using mapmaking to try to get people on board land conservation projects in Washington State, in the north-western United States.

Listen to the report by Eilís O’Neill in Seattle:

Ben Hughey stands next to the biggest map he’s ever made - a two-meter-tall, five-meter-wide map of the Mountains to Sound Greenway (Photo: E. O'Neill)

Ben Hughey stands next to the biggest map he’s ever made – a two-meter-tall, five-meter-wide map of the Mountains to Sound Greenway (Photo: E. O’Neill)

Ben's pictured here taking a GPS point with his smart phone (Photo: E. O'Neill)

Ben’s pictured here taking a GPS point with his smart phone (Photo: E. O’Neill)

Ben is showing reporter Eilís O'Neill that they're not lost (Photo: E. O'Neill)

Ben is showing reporter Eilís O’Neill that they’re not lost (Photo: E. O’Neill)

Ben is an avid bike rider - and his good sense of navigation comes in handy (Photo: E. O'Neill)

Ben is an avid bike rider – and his good sense of navigation comes in handy (Photo: E. O’Neill)

 

 

 

 

Date

Tuesday 18.02.2014 | 13:26

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