Through a Lens, Richly

January 15th, 2009 | Shonali Burke | 19 Comments

Communicators: how do you use your lens to impact the world?

While channel-surfing a couple of years ago, I came across the documentary “Born into Brothels.” Having been born and brought up in Calcutta (now Kolkata), I was instantly captivated by the story. More than that, I was touched by Zana Briski‘s commitment to these children born, through no fault of their own, on the wrong side of the street; and her covenant to open their eyes and bring them the riches of hope – through a camera lens.

The original Kids with Cameras. Source: Kids with Cameras

The Communicator’s Lens

When “Slumdog Millionaire” swept last week’s Golden Globes, I was reminded of the “kids with cameras,” and the power an image has to convey what, often, 516 words cannot. That is the essence of what we, as communicators, should aspire to, isn’t it? To convey a message to our audiences in such an efficient and impactful way that they are moved to action, enabling our clients or organizations to achieve their goals.

As communicators, we each have a unique lens through which we reach out to, and touch, the world.

Just in the last several days, I have come across many passionate communications professionals putting their networks to work for the greater good. Take Beth Kanter, who raised more than $3,500 for the Sharing Foundation which helps kids in Cambodia. Or Danny Brown, who’s initiated the incredible 12 for 12K campaign. You need look no further than your e-mail inbox, Twitterstream or Facebook friends to find countless examples of how an image – coupled with the power of connection – can change lives forever.

As my tribe that has overwhelmed me with birthday wishes today, I’m asking you to use the power of your lens to make a difference for the kids with cameras. You can:

  • Join the Facebook group for Kids with Cameras. (We can’t donate to them via Facebook right now, but we’ll find a way to help them.)
  • Donate whatever you can – whether it’s $5 or $50, directly to Kids with Cameras. If you’re clicking through from this post, please select “Hope House,” since Avijit is already in the U.S. If you’d like to make the donation in someone else’s name, just check that box (and if you want to make it in mine, I’d be more honored than I can tell you; just make a note of that in your comment below so that I can send you my email address).
  • If the amounts in option #2 above don’t work for you, you can make a donation of whatever amount is comfortable for you by either calling or emailing them a check.
  • If you’re unable to donate or join the Facebook group (I know it’s a tough time) but would still like to help, just send me a note. We’ll find a way to put our talents to work for them.
  • If this cause touches you, please tell your family, friends and colleagues about it. Spreading the word is the greatest power communicators have!

You can change the world through your lens. How you do it is up to you.

Shonali Burke
Head honcho of Waxing UnLyrical, Shonali Burke is President & CEO of Shonali Burke Consulting, Inc. Based in the Washington, D.C., area, she loves helping for- and non-profit clients, both small and large, turn corporate codswallop into community cool™. She also loves ABBA, bacon, cooking, dogs, and Elvis. Wouldn't you like to be in her kitchen?
Shonali Burke
Shonali Burke
Shonali Burke

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Shonali Burke
Shonali Burke

Thank you all for your comments and support, it means so much.

Shilpika Das
Shilpika Das

I think it's wonderful you're helping with such a great cause. It would be a pleasure to make a donation to this worthy cause.

I haven’t watched the documentary but I have read the "Born Into Brothels" book. The photos are beautiful, heart-wrenching and fraught with layers of meaning. It truly is a remarkable story about the power of art to transform lives.

I had the opportunity to spend some time with children born into brothels in Kolkata. Forced to mature before their time, they will surprise you with their intelligence, insight and curiosity. This is a great way to boost their confidence and give them an opportunity to find their voice.

I love the concept of using social networks to raise awareness and inspire action and I hope you continue to inspire us with your work.

Good Luck!

Shannon Paul
Shannon Paul

Happy Birthday, Shonali! So glad to see your blog up and running. :) As a gift to you in support of your efforts, and to celebrate the occasion of your birth, I coughed up $5. It should be more, but I'm broke. However, In order to make up for my lack of funds, I will cajole and pressure others to make up for the deficit. Much love, smarty pants! I can't wait to see what you cook up over here on your corner of the Interwebz. xoxo

Beth Kanter
Beth Kanter

PS - the Campaign actually raised almost $8K by the time it was done!

Beth Kanter
Beth Kanter

Good luck with your campaign. I love the concept of the organization - there's one in Siem Reap Cambodia called Cameras for Cambodia. I donated all my old camera equipment and out of date digital cameras a few years back. Doing fundraising on your birthday is so much fun!