To change gender dynamics in economically-challenged communities through photography.
For every girl & boy to discover they are equals.
Pronounced “KEY-oh,” our name means ‘mirror’ in Swahili and reminds us about the power of reflection—literally & figuratively.
We advance gender equality in marginalized communities by teaching photography to girls who, in turn, teach photography to boys. Girls build self-confidence & leadership skills while boys recognize the leadership ability of girls & see them as equals. Gender equality is more than a “girls only” effort. It can only be achieved when both girls & boys understand the importance of living as equals.
With a camera in their hands, our students are inspired to unleash their creativity, celebrate their individuality & change gender dynamics around the world.
We picture equality.
The Founding Story
I was walking through Cité Soleil, the largest slum in the Western Hemisphere located in Haiti, one of the poorest places on Earth. Trash littered the streets and dirty stagnant rainwater was often used as latrines. The sun pulsated directly overhead, bleaching the blue sky to a blinding white. Sweat droplets raced down my spine and pooled at my lower back. Children dressed in rags – or for some, in nothing at all – played a spirited game of soccer with a half-inflated ball. I snapped a picture of a group of rambunctious kids, only to have eager young hands grab at my camera to see the image captured on my screen.
The novelty of the reproduction faded and most darted off between the shanty houses. One remained, diligently pointing at each face on the screen, as if ticking them off in his head. He stopped at the last one. His own. He let out a burst of pure, innocent, giggling glee and scampered off. Alone, I realized that for people who have next to nothing, a mirror is an unattainable luxury. This child only met his reflection by process of elimination. For he knew which ones were his friends and which one was the stranger.
I fell dumbstruck. For I never realized a person could walk through life without knowing her own physical self. But photography can change that. It lets a child see herself & her world through different eyes. By learning tangible skills & creating new avenues of self-expression, she can contribute to her life & her community.
And thus, the seed for KIOO Project was planted.
Founder & Executive Director