Building Schools & Hope in Nepal

June 24th, 2016

 

Jaishree Narsih

The 2015 earthquake in Nepal affected so many lives and left so much damage. A year later, the people of Nepal are still rebuilding. One of the many affected areas of infrastructure were the schools. CEF is proud to partner with Kina Social Ventures to support the rebuilding of some of the schools so the kids of Nepal can continue to get a good education.

For 13 years Kina, a registered Canadian charity, has been helping at-risk girls in rural Nepal by providing them with educational support and healthcare services. These girls are supported throughout their entire education, with the ultimate goal to empower them with this education and become more productive members of society and contribute to the development of their community.

Because the earthquakes in 2015 damaged many schools, Kina is working to rebuild these schools so they can continue to support girls with their education. CEF is funding the reconstruction of one of the schools in the Rocham Village area of Nepal. This is a very remote area of the country that houses approximately 150 families and there is currently no electrical power. It is quite a trek to get there from the capital city of Kathmandu with a lot of heavily terraced, steep, and corrugated mountains along the way.

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One of the remote communities in Nepal where Kina is helping rebuild schools.

David Wood, Founder and Director of Kina, was in Nepal in May and provided us with an update on the school construction. The foundation has been dug out and a lot of the materials are being transported to the Rocham Village site. The goal is to have an earthquake resistant school up and running as soon as possible.

The school in Rocham Waku currently under construction.

Kina is working with a local in-country partner, The Small World (TSW), to help with the construction of the schools. There is a School Management Committee and a School Construction Management Committee – all made up of local residents who are learning and developing reusable skills.

Currently, in Rocham Village, there are three schools, all of which have extensive damage, overcrowding, and extremely tiny classrooms. Classes grades  1 – 8 are taught in these schools. One of the schools is extremely damaged due to the earthquake and is quite dangerous, but still being used on a temporary basis until the new building is up and running. The other two schools are comparatively safer and slightly bigger. More than 230 students attend these schools, so if you do the math, that is approximately 76 students per school in some very small classrooms, as can be seen in the picture below!

Nepal class

A very cozy classroom in Nepal.

While on this trip, David was also able to interview new students for the Kina scholarship program. So many of these girls come from poor families, live in very remote areas, and some have no parents. With the continuation of Kina’s program and the building of this new school, the hope is to equip these girls with an education that will serve them well into the future.

Nepal kids

 

 

Celebrating 10 Years of Creative Impact!

June 22nd, 2016

It was a family reunion of sorts for the Compassionate Eye Foundation (CEF) last week as past and present volunteers, board members, photographers, and project partners gathered in Vancouver to celebrate a decade of creative impact.

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Back in the city where ten years ago he held CEF’s first photo shoot, CEF’s founder, Robert Kent, gave a heartfelt reflection on the past decade and growth of the organization. This was followed by a moving song by guitarist, Jonah Ocean.

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Steven Errico, who has shot for CEF each year, shared photographs and memories from his trip to Cambodia to see some CEF projects firsthand. Our project partners in Cambodia, Rick and Adrianne from Kids International Development Society, also gave an update on their projects and shared a framed Certificate of Thanks from the community where  the latest school build we helped fund was recently completed.

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Board Chair, Dan Rogers, acknowledged CEF’s global community of volunteers, partners, photographers, and other contributors who were missed at the event. CEF would not be where it is today without this incredible network of dedicated and talented individuals – including our stellar production team in the UK – Kate Stevens and Philippa Cooper, and former creative director, Fiona Watson.

As an example, this has been a busy couple of weeks for CEF. On June 14, Christopher Robbins was shooting in New York City. June 18 was a big day with four photographers in two cities – starting in London with photographers Kelvin Murray and Oli Kellett and later that day with Robert Kent and Steven Errico on an education themed shoot in Vancouver with producer Amy Jones (see photos below). On June 24, there will be a photo shoot in Toronto with Kara Dillon and Vicki Schelstraete.

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CEF School BTS-1

So far our tenth year has been a big one, and there’s more to come! Be sure to follow us on social media to keep up to date. We will also be sharing memories throughout the year and hope you will too. Post your CEF memories on social media and tag them with #CEF10x10. Thank you for helping us have a wonderful first decade of making a positive difference around the world!

Many thanks to Gavin Kennedy for these great shots from the 10 year anniversary party and behind the scenes Vancouver photo shoot. Be sure to check out our Facebook page to see more!

What Goes on at a CEF Photoshoot?

March 20th, 2016


Jaishree Narsih

Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes of a CEF photoshoot? CEF collaborates with many different photographers and there is a lot of work that goes into producing a single photo shoot to yield the stock photos which are then posted on Getty Images. Kate Stevens, Creative Director at CEF, is here to give us a little bit of insight and take us behind the scenes of her role. She has been with CEF for five years doing editing and occasional art directing in the last seven months, has taken on the role of Creative Director.

Kate Stevens

Photoshoot days are hectic and there is a lot that needs to be done! The day starts with a quick run through with hair, makeup, and styling to outline expectations and setup for the day. While the models are getting ready, Kate runs through the shot list and expectations with the photographer and walks through the location to determine the best start setup. A lot of this planning is done well in advance of the photoshoot day; however, being flexible is very important. Many factors including lighting and weather can require switching up the shots to get the best results.

Here is an excerpt from Kate outlining some of the behind the scenes specifics:

“Once the photographer and team have the lighting set up I’d get the model/s on set and run through specific shot requirements. I would by this point have discussed with the photographer how they wish to direct the set…often too many directives and voices are confusing for the models. Some photographers find it easier to give direction than others. Ideally it is a collaborative process…you see the shot on the laptop (if they are shooting tethered) and you can immediately pick up on what needs adjusting or changing. Throughout the day your job is to make sure the shots are achieved and to keep the photographer moving on through the set-ups. You constantly keep an eye on the clock and need to be thinking one, two, three sets ahead to get styling and sets prepped to avoid long delays. I would usually get a copy of the day’s shoot on hard drive before leaving.”

This is only some of what goes on during a photoshoot – a large shoot requires a lot of planning and the better the planning, the stronger the shoot.

I asked Kate what she enjoys most about her role. She said that she enjoys it all “from putting together an overall production plan and budget, engaging photographers in projects, to putting briefs together, helping out on the shoots and the nuts and bolts of production…finding the right location, models and assembling a shoot crew! Seeing the results in editing is very rewarding.”

Kate’s biggest challenge is working with the fluidity. As mentioned in the above overview, planning and organizing a photoshoot requires many different aspects to come together and you always have to be flexible and adjust to any changes that may be required.

As CEF approaches its 10-year anniversary, we have a few interesting photoshoot prospects coming up! This includes a contemporary look at the workplace and business owner shoots featuring the actual owners and an environmental shoot which is in the early stages of planning. There are going to be shoots in Vancouver as well as Toronto, Montreal, and London with hopes to bring Los Angeles, New York, and Seattle into the mix as well. There are also preliminary talks to bring in and work with some new photographers – more on that as things get finalized! Steven Errico (Photographer), Amy Jones (Producer), Hero Images (photography team) and Julie Francoeur in Canada are fantastic shooters who contribute every year and make a huge difference to projects supported by CEF.

Project Update: 8 Smart Kids Students Supported by Giving Tuesday

March 11th, 2016

Adrianne & Rick, Kids International Development Society

The 8 students that CEF is supporting through the "Giving Tuesday" fundraising event, their parents and mentor Hak.

The 8 students that CEF is supporting through the “Giving Tuesday” fundraising event, their parents and mentor Hak.

On Sunday March 6, 2016 Adrianne and Rick of the Kids International Development Society went out to see the Smart Kids and have a meeting with with the eight students that will be moving to Siem Reap in August to attend grade 12. Their parents attended to discuss any concerns and to go over what the students would be provided with while boarding at Hak’s (Smart Kids Manager) home in Siem Reap.

The parents were happy that their children were being given this opportunity and although they would miss them they are hopeful that this will lead to a better future for them. For many of these families they have sacrificed to send at least one of their kids to school. The parents had a few concerns about registration fees and transportation fees. We were able to reassure them that these costs will be covered. The students all realize that this is a huge opportunity for them and they are excited and committed to do really well.

Thanks to the support of the Compassionate Eye Foundation all room and board, Khmer school fees, English school fees and bicycles will be provided for the students. Hak is also going to give extra computer and English lesson at his home during the week. KIDS will provide the computers for the students. The students will be expected to assist with household chores and cooking. The parents agreed to try and provide some pocket money for the kids however some cannot so we will ensure that the kids get some funds while in Siem Reap.

It was a rather moving meeting as the parents deeply thanked CEF, KIDS and Hak for this amazing opportunity.

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.

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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.

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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!