12 Things That Made the World a Better Place in 2016

With all the talk of how devastating 2016 has been, we thought it was important to point out that many good things have happened too! Good deeds don't always make the news, but every single day people who care a whole lot about their communities and this planet are doing small acts that make a big difference. Let’s ring in the new year by remembering that while we face many challenges on this planet, we are also capable of overcoming them by working together from the ground up. At the heart of change in this world, we find people.

Here are 12 of our amazing NGO partners that made the world a better place in 2016 and will continue to move us forward in 2017:

1. IndoRelief: Calais, France

The IndoRelief foundation proved to be so necessary to those in need of resources in India that they decided to extend a helping hand to newly-landed refugees living in the outskirts of Calais, France. "The Jungle" has been bulldozed since the these images were taken, however these efforts helped many refugees who were seeking comfort and help in a time on immense need. The act of storytelling and "being seen" through photography can be therapeutic in itself. These images show us that although the journey can be arduous, the human spirit prevails.

Photography by Caroline Petters.

2. Seeds of Peace

In 1993, award-winning journalist and author John Wallach and visionary Bobbie Gottschalk created Seeds of Peace and successfully opened the Seeds of Peace summer camp in Maine. Over a span of 21 years, Seeds of Peace has expanded its mission into South Asia, Europe the Middle East to promote peace in regions affected by conflict. Seeds of Peace implements a development model that focuses on three areas of change: personal transformation, interpersonal transformation and societal transformation and recognizes influential young leaders and hosts an educational program at its camp in Maine. These images portray the divide in Israel/Palestine, but they also reflect possibilities that come with the creation of powerful friendships and dialogue.

Photography by Maggie Svoboda.

3. South Vihar Welfare Society

Anima Baa founded the South Vihar Welfare Society for Tribal (ASHRAY) in response to the exploitation and injustice she witnessed as a child in indigenous communities in India. With the belief that even the most vulnerable communities can become sustainable with the right support, encouragement and education, ASHRAY serves women, children and those at risk. 

Photography by Angela Conners.

4. Orangutan Information Centre

The Orangutan Information Centre is an innovative organization in Sumatra that is not only helping to rescue orangutans and other wildlife who are illegally trafficked and exploited, but are working with local people to preserve and reclaim conserved rainforest lands. This video is one of 5 in the PWB TV web series.

Photography by Gita Defoe.

5. La Senda Verde Wildlife Refuge

La Senda Verde Wildlife Refuge in Bolivia provides a home and a "second chance" to wildlife rescued from illegal trafficking and other abusive situations. The founders of this organization struggle with the upkeep, but believe it is all worthwhile to make a difference in the animals' lives and for future generations. This is one of 5 episodes from the PWB TV web series.

Photography by Tracey Buyce and Kristi Odom.

6. Sunfarmer

SunFarmer not only brings sustainable electricity to communities off the grid in Nepal, but provides energy to local energy companies that service hospitals, schools and farms with the means of repaying loans for the equipment. Following Nepal's devastating earthquake in 2015, SunFarmer has made a huge impact in rebuilding efforts - responding immediately to provide basics like solar lanterns to powering health facilities in critical need. 

Photography by Kristin Lau.

7. Green Hope Colombia

Green Hope Colombia empowers indigenous people in the Colombian Amazon to reforest and protect their forest home through the cultivation of sustainable wood and fruit plantations. These plantations can also be sustainable income sources and are making a difference in the lives of people and for nature as well.

Photography by Artem Nazarov and Sienna Clough.

8. VARAS

VARAS wants to close the gap between urban and rural areas in Ghana by providing clean water projects, building schools, and healthcare centres. The organization has extended its wings far beyond its own projects by helping effect change in hospitals, and schools in rural Ghana. It's truly amazing what a small group of determined people can do!

Photography by Emma Changose. 

9. Tackle Africa: Tanzania

Based in Tanzania, Tackle Africa's s purpose is to educate youth and young adults on sexual health with a focus on HIV. Ten million young adults in the fifteen to twenty-four age group live with HIV worldwide, and they also account for forty-percent of new infections. What makes the sex education program at Tackle Africa so successful is that they use football (soccer), a popular sport in many parts of Africa, to encourage, inspire and engage youth in the importance of sexual health. 

Photography by Daniel Davis and Aga Szydlik.

10. Sristi

An independent farming community in India is challenging the stigma against mentally-disabled people by providing them with horticultural jobs that not only restore a sense of dignity, but help the healing process. How amazing is that?

Photography by Anica James.

11. Maya Traditions

Based in Guatemala, Maya Traditions aims to prevent the loss of Maya tradition and works to preserve it by acting as a support, advocate and go-between, connecting Mayan women with a global fair-trade market as well as offering vital social programs for female Maya artists and their families.

Photography by Robyne Hayes.

12. Niños con Valor

Niños con Valor helps Bolivian children with troubled pasts get the full range of help that they need. The organization is important because many residential schools in Bolivia practice abuse and neglect, and these children often have nowhere else to go. 

Photography by Laura Crowell.

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