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Photographers Giving Back Award Charity 2010

Victims of the environmental catastrophe are given a chance of a better life.

7-year old girl Poonam. Photo By Alex Masi

At least 8000 people died during the first week and close to 200000 suffered various injuries when the world’s until now worst industrial and environmental catastrophe happened in the Indian town of Bhopal. Today, more than 25 years after the explosion in a chemical factory, the town water supply is still poisoned.

The Italian photographer Alex Masi has regularly returned to Bhopal to document the residents and their struggle for survival.

His photos of the 7-year old girl Poonam have been selected as a winner by the jury of the International photo competition – Photographers Giving Back Awards. The organisers of this competition and Alex Masi have now decided that the prize money of USD 5000 should go to Poonam and her family.

The family lives in one of the poorest areas of Bhopal built on top of the chemical dump created and used by the American corporation Union Carbide until the 1984 catastrophe.

- The five children of this family live in a mud hut and very rarely attend school. They lack clothing as well as shoes, food, pens, paper and all other basic life necessities. We will try to ensure that Poonam goes to school; we will sponsor her education and then help the family in making their lives more tolerable. Some of the money will be used to enable the family to become self-sufficient, Alex Masi explains.

It is now two years since the press photographer Jonas Lemberg founded a charitable project named Photographers Giving Back Award.

– Last year we awarded almost SEK 40000 to a home for abused women in Eastern Congo. That money was directly used helping 230 women to start up a farm. This is exactly what Photographers Giving Back Award is all about, to draw attention to injustice and to try to do something about it. I hope our efforts in Bhopal will be just as successful, Jonas Lemberg concludes.

Photographers Giving Back Award Charity 2009

Victim of rape. Picture By Walter Astrada / Photographer of the year

Last year, the Photographers Giving Back Award named Walter Astrada as Photographer of the Year. His pictures from the Congo were one of the reasons why.

We met Mama Masika, who works at a counselling centre she founded in 2001. Three years previously, a group of Tutsi soldiers had come to her village. After killing her husband, twelve of the soldiers raped Mama Masika while her two daughters, aged 12 and 14, were raped in the next room. Her story is not unique. Every day, 40 women are raped in east Congo – but the conflict and the fear experienced by many women is a story that is rarely covered by the media.

Thanks to Walter Astrada’s photographs, this story has been told. And thanks to the PGB Photo Award, some of the affected women now have slightly more bearable lives. The competition donated USD 5,000 to a women’s shelter in the district of Masisi, east Congo, which has enabled the women to rent ten hectares of land. In total, 230 women are directly involved in the farm and another 1,610 are indirectly involved.

They have started a small farm and have bought hoes, rakes and sprinklers. They grow and sell potatoes, white cabbage, carrots, peanuts, soya beans, kale and tomatoes.

The photographs and the money have made a difference. And that is what the Photographers Giving Back Award is all about – giving back to the people in the pictures.

This first year, 2009,  $5.000 has been given to a cause that the awarded photographer Walter Astrada have worked with for several years. Sexual abused wome in Congo, Africa. Walter have seen the needs with his own eyes and the board have selected to give the whole amount to the cause. The money will help theese women  buy land, crops and also to make sure the existance of shelters for vonurable women.  With the help of Mr Walter Astrada and his connections in Congo we have been able to secure that the money have been recived correctly to our satisfaction.

For the 2010 contest we have secured the same amount of $5.000 for the Photographers Giving Back project. We also hope that the entry fees and sponsor will help increase the amount. The charity cause of 2010 will be decided after the contest has ended.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

A part of the sponsorship money is set aside for the Photographers Giving Back project. A special board will select which cause or causes among the winning entries will receive donations from The Photo Award. Donations to the Photographers Giving Back project are greatly appreciated and will be donated. A minimum of $5000 USD have already been earmarked for charity.

WHY?

Jonas Lemberg, a news photographer since 1991, started out with a wish to make a change and make the world a better place to live. Now, several years later, he has founded an organization that wants to give something back; to the photographers who work hard covering events showing injustice around the world, and also to the people depicted in the photographs.

For questions regarding the Photographers Giving Back project, contact:

Managing Director of The PGB Photo Award

Jonas Lemberg

jonas@thepgbphotoaward.com

Tel. +46 (0) 70 7334600