Arms folded with muscular arms bulging from his t-shirt, his sense of authority immediately commands attention. The man in the photo stands beside a big picture of a little child, the sort used by NGOs to communicate their work to Western audiences. But he says he is frustrated by photos like these – they don’t tell the positive story of the Democratic Republic of Congo: ‘Food is not what we are reaching for. We need investment. We need the means to develop ourselves’.
This lively photo is one among hundreds taken on the streets of New York for the blog, Humans of New York. They document the lives and views of the people of that city. So successful has it proved, that the UN is now widening the blog to include photos of people in 50 countries.
Brandon Stanton’s project was a simple idea and has been met with extraordinary responses. Nine million fans wait for new photographs, stories and – most importantly – people to be shown online. People wait to hear the next story, the next insight into other lives. What’s so good about this is that it is powered by people and their stories. The captions are filled with aspirations, reflections on lives and visions for their future.
Just as people are central to this project, they drive our work at Peace Direct. Voices and actions, not international rhetoric or diplomacy, are at the heart of Peace Direct. While Brandon and the UN continue to detail lives of people across the globe who don’t have privilege or stature, we find, fund and support local people who are building peace on their own doorstep. With ‘people power’ skills and expertise learned over the 10 years of our work, we invest in people – and their ability to make a positive story.