Improving lives, one story at a time

Improving lives, one story at a time
A child in Riau gets light from a solar lamp from Nusantara.

READING the papers may leave you feeling overwhelmed, with the news often dominated by the many challenges facing the world.

This June, however, a special Saturday supplement will zoom in on the solutions to some of these problems - and you can be a part of it.

For the third year running, The Straits Times will be participating in Impact Journalism Day, which falls on June 20 this year.

Along with 39 other leading media outlets from around the world, it will publish inspiring stories of people and projects that offer innovative solutions to local or global problems.

If you are working on a project that is helping to improve the lives of others, e-mail us at stimpact@sph.com.sg by Feb 25.

The project must be up and running, and can be run by an individual, a company or an organisation.

It can be an initiative that helps the needy in your neighbourhood, an idea that improves the lives of people beyond Singapore, or a brilliant invention that has the potential to make a global impact.

Selected projects will be featured in a special supplement published by The Straits Times and other participating media outlets, which have a combined reach of 100 million people.

Noting the strong response last year, Straits Times editor Warren Fernandez said: "Many readers told us they were inspired by the stories we featured, and urged us to profile more people and organisations which are tackling some of the world's pressing problems and making an impact.

"So, we at ST are happy to do that, joining our partners, some of the best news organisations in the world, for this year's Impact Journalism Day."

The Mothers of Light, an initiative by Singapore-based social enterprise Nusantara Development Initiatives, was among the projects featured last year.

The group supplies affordably-priced solar lamps to village women in Riau, Indonesia.

After it was featured, many Straits Times readers wrote to the group offering to sponsor lamps, said Ms Gloria Arlini, 31, co-founder of the initiative.

One couple wanted to donate a dozen lamps to a Nepalese monastery, while another group recently bought about 30 lamps to help flood victims in Kelantan.

Ms Arlini told The Straits Times: "The Impact coverage has helped increase the visibility of the issues of energy, poverty and women's empowerment."

For more information, go to www.straitstimes.com/impact- 2015

THE Straits Times featured 50 projects as part of Impact Journalism Day last year.

They include:

THE MOTHERS OF LIGHT

Singapore-based social enterprise Nusantara Development Initiatives supplies solar lamps to three energy-starved villages in Riau, Indonesia.

Since 2010, it has been training village women to become ibu rumah terang, or Mothers of Light.

By selling the lamps to fellow villagers, the women become entrepreneurs and earn a profit to support their families.

THE WALKING LIBRARY

For more than 30 years, Mr Polan Sarkar, 94, has walked from village to village in Bangladesh, carrying a bag of books.

He loans the books, which he buys with his own money, to villagers.

His example has since inspired others to start distributing books from village to village.

THE DRINKABLE BOOK

The 24 pages of the Drinkable Book are actually paper-based water filters, which render contaminated water potable.

The books, produced by US-based charity WaterIsLife, have enough filters to last up to four years.

WaterIsLife aims to produce books for 33 countries.

CLINIC ON RAILS

This clinic on a train trundles along in a rail convoy, bringing free health care to poor communities and remote areas in Mexico.

Nicknamed Dr Wagon, the clinic is staffed by 15 doctors.

It offers not just general medical aid, but also specialised services such as dental care.

The train can serve up to 300 people a day.

oliviaho@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Feb 3, 2015.
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