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Monday, September 28, 2015

"What Stories Would They Tell?"--the KIOO Project

Episode 8, October 6, 2015
by Bill Quinn

Humanitarian photographer Babita Patel tells a story of a boy laughing and pointing at the image of himself on the screen of her digital camera.  It turns out that he and other Haitian boys like him rarely if ever get to see what has become ubiquitous here in New York--a picture of themselves.  This small moment has launched an exciting nonprofit called the KIOO Project which runs photography programs for students in some of the world's poorest countries.  They not only teach students new skills but empower young people to express themselves.  This episode Babita shares stories from the work she has done in Haiti and Kenya.  And if you like what you hear, be sure to support the KIOO Project on Indiegogo by October 8th!

(Technical note:  Due to some major computer-related hurdles, this episode is very late in being posted.  Some of the times mentioned, such as two weeks left in the Indiegogo campaign, are considerably off.)

Download this episode on Pod-o-Matic

Learn more about all the great work of the KIOO Project in the links below:
  • Help this excellent program on Indiegogo before time runs out on October 8th. Your money will support their work with students in India.
  • Here's the KIOO Project's excellent web site with a lot more information plus pictures from Haiti and Kenya. 
  • Purchase some of the photographs discussed in this episode, plus other great pictures, to support the organization.
  • Follow the project with regular updates from India on Instagram.
  • Connect with the KIOO Project through the other usual suspects of Facebook and Twitter.
  • Watch videos to see KIOO in action!
  • Learn more about Babita Patel by visiting her web site.

A huge THANK YOU and shout out to Julia Firestone for supporting the podcast and connecting me with Babita and the KIOO Project.  And another big thank you to Babita for being a fantastic guest, for patiently waiting for me to figure out technical issues (a reoccurring theme here at the BQ Podcast) and for not openly judging me when I didn't realize my web cam and microphone were broadcasting as I ranted to myself about the less-than intuitive Google On Air controls.   And lastly, thank you NOFX for not bothering me about stealing your song.  However your unresponsiveness to my requests for permission may have finally wore me down.  I will have to find a new song to lead me to the promised land: Itunes.


Thursday, September 17, 2015

"I still feel the roof crashing over me." -- After Rana Plaza

September 17, 2015

Ending this Sunday, September 20th, is a photo exhibit from Bangladesh as part of the Photoville project in Brooklyn Bridge Park. It documents the aftermath of the 2013 Rana Plaza disaster and the ongoing experiences for victims, families and the community. With each photograph comes a carefully documented account connecting the image to the collapse.  The pictures are striking, tragic and touching yet vivid and beautiful.  One of the organizers, Thahitun Mariam, graciously answered several questions about the exhibit.

Update:  If you click on the picture you will be linked to the corresponding story.

Bill:  What is "After Rana Plaza?"

Thahitun:  After Rana Plaza" is a year-long documentary photography project to shed light on the lives of people who remain deeply impacted by one of the world's deadliest industrial catastrophes. It is a collaborative project between Bangladeshi photographer Ismail Ferdous and The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.  

Bill:  How did you get involved?

Thahitun:  I am involved with "After Rana Plaza" because I was one of the main content writers for the stories being told. The interviews and photographs are captured by Ismail Ferdous, and then sent to us writers to understand and explain the narratives of many people who were involved in the collapse - whether it be the survivors themselves, or the organizations that are working to provide services to them even till now.

Bill:  What are some of the more memorable stories to come out of the exhibit.

Thahitun:  Visit the web site here. Feel free to shift through the pictures to get a better idea of the stories being told.

Bill:  When and where can people see the exhibit?

Thahitun:  "After Rana Plaza" is being exhibited during the Photoville festival which happens yearly in Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York City. It is happening from September 10, 2015 — September 20, 2015. The Hours of Operation for the festival can be found on the Photoville website.

Bill:  If someone wants to get involved with your project in one way or another, what should they do?

Thahitun:  They can get involved with the "After Rana Plaza" project by emailing us at

Bill:  What have you learned from organizing photography exhibits such as this one that you can pass on to others who might want to do something similar?

Thahitun:  From my experience working with "After Rana Plaza" we have realized that it is always best to have a vision and work towards it slowly. "After Rana Plaza" is a vision of Ismail Ferdous's to follow up and tell the stories of people who may otherwise be forgotten. As a writer, it is important for me to provide dignity and honor to the stories being told as stories of survival, and not as tales of defeat. "After Rana Plaza" was approached to be exhibited during Photoville since Ismail Ferdous and his work was selected as one of the three recipients of the first Getty Images Instagram Grants.

My thanks again to Thahitun for taking the time to answer my questions.  If you miss the last few days of the exhibit be sure to check it out online at the official page for After Rana Plaza where you can click on pictures for their story.  You can also go learn more about photographer Ismail Ferdous's work by visiting his web site.