When Jenifer White, Ph.D. in Psychology, was first approached by Photographers Without Borders, she wasn’t quite sure how or why PWB would want to work alongside her NGO, Project 1948.
“We have the most complicated mission statement, no one’s going to get what we do, no one ever gets it”, said White. “But [PWB] got it. And they made it very easy for other people to understand,” she explained.
Project 1948 is focused on influencing positive social impact in Bosnia-Herzegovina through a ‘photo-voice’ programme combining photography and dialogue. White and her team equip young adults with donated cameras to photograph their home country. White then interviews the participants about the photos, recording the dialogue. The photos and voice recordings are used to inspire social action and policy change.
In May 2016, Danielle Da Silva, founder of Photographers Without Borders, travelled with videographer, Jeff Garriock, and photographer, Mel Hattie, to document through both videography and photography Project 1948’s ‘Cup of Peace’ photo-voice program.
“This was the first time I ever had anyone documenting what Project 1948 was doing. My number one fear was that Mel wouldn’t understand what we were doing, so I had to give up my sense of control, which I think was really good for me, said White.
“PWB knew just how to document what I was doing and they understood both the power of photography as well as the impact it was having on the students”.
In November 2017, the videography work collected by Da Silva and Garriock was featured in an episode of PWB TV dedicated to Project 1948.
“I was like, oh, they understand what I do, and now there’s evidence that they understand. They get the mission, they get the vision and they get the future, and they were able to capture that,” White said of the episode.
Project 1948 was able to use the PWB TV episode to help build their relationship with the U.N. According to White, the documentary was very well received by Bosnian officials who were impressed by how the footage was able to showcase the country in such a positive light, during a time when there had been such negative press coverage.
Working with cameras and photographers every day, White understands the power of visual storytelling. She explains that visibility, visual images, and documentation are crucial to a NGO’s impact.
“Photography creates possibility. When you look at a photograph, you can see hope, and sharing our voice helps us create a better world. Those are the things every NGO needs," White said.
Next on Project 1948’s to-do list is a two-part program in rural Bosnia. The project aims to address the country’s water crisis, both through pushing for policy change and by building water wells in local communities.