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KIOO New York

We are KIOO Project.

Pronounced “KEY-oh,” our name means ‘mirror’ in Swahili and reminds us about the power of reflection—literally & figuratively.

We advance gender equality in economically challenged communities by teaching photography to girls who, in turn, teach photography to boys. Girls build self-confidence while improving their leadership & presentation skills, while boys respect & value the girls in their communities.

During our 2017 Ethiopia workshop, the girls went into the community to photograph portraits of the villagers. A group of girls & one boy gathered around Teshfanesh, our 13-year-old student, while she photographed a teenage girl. Babita, our ED & photography teacher, mimed to add the boy from the gathered group into the portrait setting. The crowd of girls giggled as the girl & boy were photographed together. Afterwards, while back in the classroom to discuss the lesson, Teshfanesh picked the portrait of the girl & boy as her favorite. The norm in Ethiopian society is for men & women not to interact – not to walk together or sit next to or talk to each other. Teshfanesh internalized this practice to mean she was not equal to boys. However, seeing an image of a girl standing next to a boy showed her that was not the case. It was possible for a female to stand side by side with a male to show that they were actually equals.

In July, we are bringing this same awesome, powerful experience to children in New York City by partnering with PowerPlay NYC, an organization that keeps girls active & provides a safe space to raise self-confidence and foster a healthy & well-balanced lifestyle through sports participation & mentorship. Girls will first learn photographic techniques. They will also get trained on how to teach others, lead a session, command a room & work together as a team. Afterwards when the boys join the workshop, they will learn photography from these newly-minted teachers.

We picture equality.

Funded by Awesome Without Borders (June 2018)