A Message from Dan Rogers: Happy New Year!

January 14th, 2016

Dan Rogers, Board Chair

2015 was quite the year for Compassionate Eye Foundation! It started in Cambodia for four members of the Board of Directors, including myself and Steven Errico, a photographer who has shot for CEF for about nine years. Trips to countries where we support programs and projects are always interesting, sobering, emotional, enjoyable, and entrancing. Cambodia was all of those. Our time spent with the people in Cambodia still resonates and we came to appreciate much more fully the deep dedication and tremendous work done by our great partner Kids International Development Society (K.I.D.S.) and their local partners.

The reason for CEF is the projects and programs we fund around the world. In addition to our work with K.I.D.S. in Cambodia, this past year we continued our support of the community of Tuixocel in Guatemala, the Peer Literacy and Teacher training programs in Sierra Leone through Cause Canada, and the Orphans and Vulnerable Children program with Partners in the Horn of Africa in Ethiopia. We also started a new initiative with Free the Children in Kenya, and funded a program with the Global Health Initiative (based out of UBC) in Peru. The work all of our partners do continues to inspire and we are proud to be involved with all of them.

2015 was also the year that, after 10 years, Susan McDonald stepped down as the Executive Director and we learned (painfully, I might add) to live without her. Fortunately, she is still involved with CEF as a volunteer. We continue our search for the right person to fill the Executive Director position and hopefully will be able to announce someone very soon.

Each year we give thanks to all involved in the various shoots around the world that support our work and in 2015 we had more to be thankful than usual. From Toronto, to Hawaii, to multiple shoots in London and Vancouver to our final shoot just before Christmas in Montreal, it was a great year for CEF and we are very excited to see the results. These are challenging times in the stock photography world, but we are determined to continue to generate funds for these projects. We are humbled and grateful for all the extremely talented creative folks who give (and then give some more) to help CEF succeed.

I also want to recognize three other people who stepped down from roles in CEF this past year. Fiona Watson left us after years as our Creative Director. We could not have achieved near as much as we have with you, Fiona! However, Fiona did us the great favour by arranging her replacement in Kate Stevens; who has seamlessly taken over the role. Our Board of Directors has also experienced change, with Michael Glogowsky and Andrea Dowd-Deaver stepping down after many years. We miss you both.

There are too many people to thank including our great delivery partners, creative staff, communications and branding volunteers (thank you EFM!) and the tireless Board of Directors. We know we have a lot of work ahead of us in 2016 as it is also our 10th Anniversary. We are planning a celebration and the biggest “shoot” year yet!  It will be exciting and challenging. I look forward to all our supporters being involved! As always, if you have any comments or questions, don’t hesitate to contact me at daniel.rogers@compassionateeye.org.

Wishing you all the very best for 2016!

Project Update: New Classrooms for Trakiet Primary School in Cambodia

December 30th, 2015

Jaishree Narsih

Imagine attending a school where you had to share one small classroom with more than 60 other students. It seems unbelievable to think about, but this is the reality for many children living in rural Cambodia.

Compassionate Eye Foundation, in partnership with Kids International Development Society (K.I.D.S.) is helping fund the building of four new classrooms at Trakiet Primary School in Cambodia. With four classrooms already in place, the hope is to alleviate the overcrowding that is happening and ensure that all the kids have access to a proper education in an environment that is conducive to learning. This project provides a second benefit because some of the community members can be employed as labourers for the classroom construction.

Photo: Robert Kent, CEF's founder, during his recent visit to Cambodia

New classrooms under construction. Photo by Robert Kent, CEF’s founder, during his recent visit to Cambodia.

On average, the four classrooms that are currently in place serve about 500 students that come from three different villages; with many students commuting over long distances. Due to overcrowding, some of the kids are taught in a tin building that overheats quite easily and has a dirt floor, which becomes a mud floor when it’s rainy. To compensate for the lack of room, some children are being taught in a nearby monastery, which means that they don’t get access to the lunch program that is funded at the school.

The red hut in the background is the original classroom building that is currently being replaced. Photo: Robert Kent

Many of these students and their families live on or close to the poverty line. A good education is the only way to break this cycle of poverty and give the kids an opportunity to be able to find good sustainable employment and ensure a brighter future. The four new additional classrooms, along with desks, chairs, blackboards, and tables will vastly improve the learning conditions.

Construction is currently underway and the school will be fully completed by April 2016. There are about 15 workers from the community that have been hired to help with this project. Below is an excerpt from the Co-Founder Administrator of the Kids International Development Society, outlining how helpful this project will be:

“It will be a relief for the children and teaching staff to have better conditions to learn and teach in. The staff were saying that during the rainy season the water in the little tin building with the dirt floor is ankle deep and the kids have to put their feet up on the wooden bars of their desks. Right now it is 34 degrees here and the tin building is sweltering hot. Some children have to attend school at a nearby Pagoda as there is no room at their school. ​As well the kids in the kitchen area are crammed in and only have half walls and the lunch program has to be cooked outside,​ so these new ​classrooms will make a huge difference.”

Trakiet_RKent

With the completion date only four months away, there is a lot of hope and excitement for what these new classrooms can do for the community. A good education can open so many different opportunities for the people in this small rural town.

 

Have Triple the Impact on Giving Tuesday!

November 28th, 2015

CEF_GivingTuesday_Instagram_2015At CEF, we’re excited to announce that this Giving Tuesday (Dec. 1) we are focusing on the Smart Kids Rural School Sponsorship Program in Cambodia.

This inspiring program, run by Kids International Development Society helps youth receive an education and work towards a better future. It includes educational programs, school supplies, uniforms, and English tutoring.

Many of the youth enrolled in the program work and live in brick factories and cannot afford to go to school. Without an education to obtain better paying jobs, the brick factories are often their future. When CEF Board members visited Cambodia this year we were so impressed with the program and the children, that we knew we had to help support it.

That is why we are directing all Giving Tuesday donations to this program. Not only that, but CEF and generous committed sponsors will match each dollar up to $3,000!

Learn more about the program and our visit to Cambodia here, or watch this short video about one of the youth in the program.

If you are as inspired by this program as we are, please consider making a donation for Giving Tuesday. Every dollar you donate multiplies, having an even greater impact on these children’s lives!

Click here to view our Giving Tuesday campaign page.

Smart Kids

The People of CEF: Summer Jackson

October 29th, 2015

Jaishree Narsih

Meet Summer Jackson, one of CEF’s fabulous volunteers.

BZ3A0137_medTell us a little bit about yourself.

I’ve been living and working at agencies as a professional designer in San Diego, California for over 10 years. I’ve produced and directed creative for clients such as The San Diego Zoo, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, and The Arizona Biltmore. The last couple of years I’ve worked as an Art Director at Experiences for Mankind, overseeing a variety of clients such as The Mirage Casino in Las Vegas, Siemens Healthcare, and LeanIn.org.

How long have you been volunteering with CEF and what is your role? How did you first get involved with CEF and what makes you want to continue volunteering with the organization?

Well, I was going to say two years but I believe it’s been a little over three! Goodness how time flies. I was introduced to CEF through my previous Creative Director Doug Moore (Hi Doug if you’re reading this! Let’s grab a beer!). At the time he had just finished updating some of the branding for the foundation and was looking for some extra hands. I was looking for a creative outlet that allowed some freedom and fell in love with the work CEF was doing. I’ve been in love ever since and although my availability has ebbed and flowed, my desire to help has never waned. I’m especially excited about this next chapter for CEF and getting to be part of their evolution and growth.

What is your favourite thing about volunteering with CEF?

Similar to the Photographers of CEF, my position as Brand Director has given me the opportunity to give back by using my skills and expertise. Although I haven’t met, in person, the majority of folks at the foundation, a good spirit flows through the veins of CEF from the people who volunteer and I’m happy to be a part of it.

What are some of your interests and hobbies?

I’m an avid birdwatcher. Yep, I own some killer binoculars, birding books, a Nat Geo bird app, and a walking stick. The past year I’ve attempted to take on photographing birds, which has turned me on to an interest in photography. I spotted my first eagle last year along the Oregon Coast and just about fainted from excitement. My favorite local spot to bird watch and spend time is a lake about 20 minutes from my house…and if I’m not there you can find me in Mexico eating tacos and sipping beer because I’m only about 20 minutes from the border.

Helping to Break the Cycle of Poverty in Cambodia

July 27th, 2015

Leah Lockhart, Communications Chair

Education is one of the keys to escaping poverty but, unfortunately for many children, poverty is the biggest barrier to attending school.

During the CEF visit to Cambodia in January, we met with a group of students in a program run by our partner, Kids International Development Society (K.I.D.S.). The program, called Smart Kids, supports children who otherwise would not be able to receive an education.

In Cambodia, especially in rural areas, parents often cannot afford the costs associated with school and require their children to work or help with household chores. Many children work to help support their families and are unable to go to class.

10906498_10153358643971777_8921502826226092074_n (2)

The children put on a play explaining the importance of clean drinking water.

We met with students at the school where Compassionate Eye was funding a clean water project. Although it was the weekend, the entire school, teachers, and parents came out to greet us. The students in the Smart Kids program performed a fabulous play demonstrating the importance of clean water and how children often miss class because they are ill from drinking unclean water.

Later that afternoon, we visited some of the students in their homes to help us better understand why they were enrolled in the Smart Kids program. Families in that area have very low incomes, mostly derived from fishing and labour – in this case, primarily brick factories. The children, ages six and up, work in the factories alongside their parents, in poor working conditions, often operating dangerous machinery or stacking bricks in kilns.

A kiln in one of the brick factories.

Sadly, many of the children also call these factories home. The stark contrast of these smiling faces in crisp school uniforms sitting at their desks, followed by seeing them in their day clothes surrounded by the dusty, grim factory grounds was unsettling. Many of the families living on the brick factory property cannot leave because they don’t own land and can’t afford to rent or buy a house. One girl’s mother had moved to the factory when she was 15 – her daughter’s age – and had been there ever since. The mother desperately wanted a different future for her daughter, but her options were very limited.

10940457_10153384898746777_3705193776505112763_n (2)

One of the families that work and live in a brick factory. The girl in the middle is part of the Smart Kids program, which enables her to go to school.

This is where Smart Kids comes in. The program helps break these vicious cycles of poverty by supporting one child from each family by providing education-related expenses like uniforms, school supplies, and a bicycle to commute between home and school. The program also covers Cambodian school costs and English classes.  An education, and especially English lessons, is a ticket out of the difficult situations many of these children endure. The children work hard, often going to school in the morning, then to work in the afternoons, and take English classes in the evening.

At the time of the visit 23 children were enrolled in the program. Upon our return, we decided that CEF would help others have the opportunity, and are delighted to say that we are now supporting an additional 11 children to go to school through the Smart Kids program.

The new group of Smart Kids supported by Compassionate Eye Foundation.

To learn more about the program and some of the children we met on our visit, hop over to our partner K.I.D.S.’ blog here or check out this great video by K.I.D.S. that follows one of the students we met, Pisu, as he goes about his day from the brick factory to school and back.

A Day In The Life Of Pisu from KIDS on Vimeo.

This video is about Pisu

Adopt a Village Program in Kenya

July 22nd, 2015

 

Groundbreaking ceremony (2)

We’re thrilled to announce that we have partnered with Free the Children to implement the holistic, sustainable, Adopt a Village programming in a Kenyan community.

The program helps empower community members with the resources and knowledge to break the cycle of poverty in their village. This program is located in the community of Esinoni (in the Nkori Nkori region of the South Narok district in Kenya) and will be supported by the local government through construction of school rooms and teacher’s accommodations. New infrastructure to promote hygiene and sanitation will be installed including water stations, hand washing stations, and latrines.

The community is incredibly excited for this new partnership and we just received this beautiful photo of the ground breaking ceremony in Esinoni. Stay tuned for more updates and photos as this project gets underway!

Photo of the Week: Family and Grandparents

May 22nd, 2015

Robyn Goldsmith, Social Media Coordinator

We are getting excited about our next shoot on May 30th! We are incredibly lucky to have Natasha Alipour-Faridani on board as our photographer. The theme of the shoot will be family and grandparents, and Natasha is sure to capture some gorgeous images.

This week’s Photo of the Week is one from a previous Compassionate Eye Foundation shoot by Natasha. Her ability to capture familial love is striking. For more of Natasha’s past CEF work, check out our collection of her photos on Getty Images.

Photo of the Week: It’s Bike Season!

May 14th, 2015

Robyn Goldsmith, Social Media Coordinator

In continuation of last week’s theme, we are taking another look at the many great bike images available in our Getty Images Collection to help you get inspired for summer.

The weather is warming up (at least for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere) and it’s a great time to get out and be active. Biking to work or school is a great way to burn off some steam and save yourself the hassles of traffic and parking. If you live in British Columbia, Bike to Work Week is coming up from May 25-31. It offers an excellent opportunity to get in the habit of biking to work. As shown by our volunteer models, you’ll also look great doing it!

 

Photo of the Week: National Bike Month

May 7th, 2015

Leah Yee, Social Media Manager

At Compassionate Eye Foundation we pride ourselves on having a quality, commercial image for every occasion. May is National Bike Month, in which cycling enthusiasts share the many benefits of biking. We would like to celebrate this month by sharing our favorite reason to ride a bike – it’s fun! – and one of our many themed stock images. The sale of this, or any other CEF image through Getty Images, will support international development projects.

 

The CEF Advanced Style Photoshoot: Absolute Verve and Pulchritude!

April 27th, 2015

Lory Keller, Social Media Coordinator

On February 22 a group of like-minded people gathered at S1 Studios, Suite 201B, in Toronto, Canada for Compassionate Eye Foundation’s 2015 Advanced Style inspired photoshoot. The commercial images of our 60+ aged models, created and captured by photographer John van der Schilden, are the epitome of Advanced Style; a celebration of beauty, age, and modish, polychromatic fashion.

John, with behind-the-scenes photographer Kara Leo, and the production team spent the day with the fab five stylish and sophisticated women who view wrinkles, not as imperfections, but as the beauty marks of a rich and robust life. Incredible ladies for whom age is but a state of mind. John’s and Kara’s fine art images capture the vibrant individual essence of each of our resplendent volunteers.

Recently, I had the opportunity to catch up with our fab five models to ask them about their day in the studio. I asked Penelope Goranson, Andrea Bolley, Octavia Haggis, Louise Kerr, and Win Kuplowsky about the photoshoot, their volunteer experiences, and more. Thrilled to be volunteering for CEF, the day got better as they suited up in wardrobe. Cosmopolitan designer outfits, oh my! Next, they were off for a dash of color in makeup and then on to strut their stuff in front of the camera!Screen Shot 2015-04-13 at 10.24.19 PM

With an Advanced Style outlook that reveals a lifetime of learning and a desire to give back, these models do just that. They share their flair for fashion through artistic ensembles that catch and delight the eye. They give of their time through volunteering with CEF and other non-profit organizations. Model Win Kuplowsky shared with us her love of helping others through the Children of Chornobyl Canadian Fund and the Ukrainian Art Song Project a Canadian organization formed to promote Ukrainian classical music.

Win contributed not only her volunteer experiences, but took time to share a terrific description of all-things-wardrobe: “Sarah’s selection of eclectic jewelry, shoes, funky boots, hats of every colour, texture and style adorned the work tables, clothes racks brimmed with fashion statements, the best of the best and she, like a magician at ready to create magic for the camera.  Hair and makeup… found us in up-dos, smokey eyes, lashes and tinted pouts. Transformation underway as an array of costumes, gloves, bangles, boots, berets and bags were mixed and matched in artistry. It was as if through this artistic collaboration of creativity a character of sort were born. What a wonderful day it was!”

Screen Shot 2015-04-13 at 11.30.37 PM

In response to my request to pick three words to best describe the day, Louise Kerr chose these: “Liberating: having had the opportunity to present a refreshed view of the older woman (and there are plenty of stereotypes to wrestle with). Let’s see more of these incredible 60+ women! Validating: This project embraces older women with all their ‘creases’ (a testament of their substance and resilience). Also the fact that this group of artists believed in the project and was willing to put their time and resources in to producing it: the celebration of aged beauty and experience. Celebration: of the strength and experiences that are etched on each one of our faces and bodies. Everyone is physically ‘perfect’ in their own way when they’re 18, but the honoured portrayal of age with all it’s ‘flaws’ is a testament to a discerning and civilized society.” Penelope Goranson shared, “The shoot itself was magic. What a marvelous adventure!”  Volunteering is large part of who they are. Giving back is a pleasure, and as you can see, they do it with pizzazz!

CEF is immensely grateful for the generous donation of studio time from S1 Studio Director Craig Samuel, and for all our volunteers like the fabulous five, that bring such vivacity to share with our organization. Volunteering for CEF is always a unique and wonderful experience. Each CEF photoshoot is its own creative environment, full of effervescent energy and everyone bubbling over with a contagious enthusiasm. Beautiful photos aren’t the only thing created at a CEF photoshoot, just ask the fabulous five. I’m certain they’ll all tell you beautiful memories are created there, too.

Want to see more from the Advanced Style inspired shoot? Check out the amazing behind-the-scenes images on Facebook.