“Part of the price of our own freedom is standing up for the freedom of others.” Day 3 at the United Nations Week Digital Media Lounge began with a live stream of President Obama’s remarks to the UN General Assembly. As I sat amongst some of the most passionate human rights activists in the world, that statement felt all the more meaningful. I am captivated by the selflessness of many of the attendees at the Lounge this week. Day 3 was no exception.
In discussing the Millennium Development Goals, one of the most interesting insights shared in the Lounge was how the advancement of technology is changing the way we think and feel about giving back. Facebook, Twitter, blogging—all of these tools make it easier to connect to each another on a global scale. The young girl in the classroom in Mali is no longer just a character written into a story you read on a piece of paper. She can be made real, and her hopes, health, and dreams are relevant to an international audience with the help of social media.
The team from ViewChange.org made this point clear. By collecting films that demonstrate tangible progress in global development, ViewChange.org uses digital storytelling to connect people to the causes and issues that matter most to them. Attendees at the Lounge had an opportunity to view scenes from the films that were chosen as Finalists in the LinkTV/ViewChange.org Online Film Contest.
Each of the films brought to life the stories of inspirational people who are doing tremendous good all around the world. In particular, those pertaining to girls’ education struck a powerful chord within me.
In the film “Pedal=Sight,” we are introduced to a young girl in Sone Sangvi, India, whose education must take a backseat to the responsibilities of everyday life. Because she must walk the hour-long commute to school each day, she is unable to spend any time studying when she returns home. When her family was asked why they were willing to purchase a bicycle for her brother and not for her, they explained that it would be foolish to invest in the education of their daughter who will be married and living with her husband’s family within a few years. Bharati is an incredible young girl, and it is phenomenal to see how her potential has been unlocked by an education. Read on to watch for yourself and discover a ‘First’…
In “Kakenya,” a Vital Voices Film, we meet Kakenya Ntaiya, a woman who overcame the obstacles in order to build the first primary school for girls in her Maasai village in Kenya. As a child, she dreamed of becoming a school teacher because they “looked nice.” Instead, she became the first woman from her village to receive a college education and is currently pursuing her PhD. Unspeakably moving, Kakenya is a model for us all.