Voices for the Voiceless

TELL Cover Page

TELL Cover Page

There are different ways to be heard. Babies understand how to get attention innately. They cry. Newspaper and magazine editors live for their next headline. The news headlines or the talking points are very important. Media junkies thrive on the buzz the news cycle creates.

Many people use their pens, pencils, laptops, speeches, protests, online activism and paintbrushes to create the next ‘in thing’. Other people use their cameras to tell human stories that would otherwise be ignored.

New stations use videos to capture humanity at its weakest. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are established businesses because they make communication and data exchange the forefront of their business. They make billions of pounds as well. When a story has a global reach and audience, it is said to be trending and when it goes viral, the impact on its audience is heart- warming and positive.

Humans of New York, HONY, was founded by street photographer Brandon Stanton in the summer of 2010. His initial goal was to photograph 10,000 New Yorkers and plot his shots on a map. But somewhere along the line, his goal changed to include short stories and quotations to go along with the pictures. Now a global phenomenon, Humans of New York is a breath of fresh air that not only inspires, but it instills in people the belief that the world can be better and safe place for us all to live. His quotes are a snapshot of a moment or season in the lives of ordinary people.

With 14 million likes on Facebook alone, HONY’s photography is reshaping the way we see people. His images force us to confront our prejudices, stereotypes ultimately urging us into accepting that all humans want the best for their lives. His philosophy is simple: ‘all human beings are fundamentally the same in spite of our race, identity and geographical location’.

His latest tweet (at the time of this write up) reads ‘it took us ten years, countless doctor appointments and three miscarriages to have her. So we never feel bothered by her cries’. The photo was taken in Iran and it was of a couple holding their baby girl. Such stories are bound to provoke tears, even in the most hardened hearts.

Stanton recently had audience with the president of the United States and the one quotation was about the time when President Obama lost his campaign to become a Senator of the United States. From talking to the president, Stanton visits Pakistan and this is one of his touching stories:

“When I was ten years old, I had a bad disease that caused me to lose consciousness and when I woke up, I was blind. I screamed: ‘Mom, I can’t see anymore!’ And we both started crying. It’s been a very hard life for me. Nobody would give his daughter to a blind man. If I dwelled on how lonely I am, I’d have died a long time ago. My only friend is the radio.”

Before Pakistan, he was on a tour of 11 countries with the United Nations last September to raise awareness of the Millennium Development Goals. His portrayal of Pakistan is not only emotive, but it shows a different view of Pakistan. The Pakistan we know is the Pakistan ridden by official corruption, extremism and violence. The Pakistan HONY showed us is the Pakistan of hope and a tomorrow…

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