Can I Get a Witness
How do we open the world's eyes to human rights violations? By giving them something to see.
For many of us trying to live a life that makes a difference, the sheer amount of causes and choices can be overwhelming; there are so many outlets for change that if we want to make a dent, we just have to start where we are and do what we can. For those who hear the call to roll up those shirtsleeves and throw ourselves all the way into the global mix, though, there's a brilliant way to document injustices and personally effect change: it's all possible thanks to the treasure trove of education tools offered by an advocacy organization called Witness.
Co-founded in the early '90s by musician Peter Gabriel with seed money from the Reebok Human Rights Foundation, Witness gives budding changemakers a wealth of wisdom about video advocacy, arming them with the tools needed to effectively tell the stories of those who need help. Offering everything from technical advice on how to get good sound to the subtleties of conducting an interview with a victim of gender-based violence, Witness breaks down the basics of storytelling through video and provides digital toolkits, free of charge, to those who want to get involved. Videos captured around the world by its participants have been shown in every imaginable forum, from the global press and large legislative bodies to tribunals in need of evidence and community groups wishing to advance a cause.
Last year, Witness took things a step further and partnered with Storyful to launch the Human Rights Channel, a dedicated space on YouTube where verified citizen videos are available for public viewing. The channel itself provides context to help viewers understand exactly what they're seeing, as well as assurance from a trusted source that each video is the real thing and not a hoax or piece of propaganda. So, for those of us who aren't on either side of the camera, there's now a way to get to the heart of complex matters, develop a deeper understanding of what's happening and learn how we can help make things better.
Witness' mantra, "See It. Film It. Change It." is more than just a catch phrase; for many, it can become a way of life, and for the rest of us, it can lend us insight on how we can make a difference in our own way. After all, if a picture tells a thousand words, just imagine what projects like these can do.