“There are so many stores in the neighborhood advertising liquor and the lottery. Why is this acceptable?” —Tamara S.
The Witnesses to Hunger program is an innovative advocacy project that gives low-income mothers a camera and an opportunity to share pictures of their daily lives.
In photographing their kids and their neighborhoods, these perceptive and invested mothers are sharing their experiences and their ideas for how to give their children a better life.
As Witnesses to Hunger program manager Jenny Rabinowich explains, the program takes a bottom-up approach to a problem that has traditionally been tackled with top-down solutions.
“It’s not about fitting people into a process that’s already happening, it’s about listening to people and hearing about what’s actually going on and their ideas for change,” Rabinowitch tells TakePart. “It’s about developing partnerships with people who are low-income and following their lead, since they’re the ones affected firsthand by these different policies and programs.”
Founded by Dr. Mariana Chilton at Drexel University’s School of Public Health in 2008, Witnesses to Hunger began in Philadelphia before spreading to other cities in Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and, most recently, Maryland. According to Rabinowich, what started out as a research project has since focused on expanding its advocacy efforts as more and more organizations across the country look to join the growing Witnesses to Hunger network.
“We’re working with groups that are interested in the specific model of Witnesses to Hunger closely, starting out with a couple pilot chapters and learning from them the best practices on how to expand,” says Rabinowich. “One cool thing is that we have a tool kit out now, a short 12-page booklet about the two core pieces of the program—participation and photography. We’re trying to get that out as widely as possible so any group can start incorporating these tools.”
If you have a heart, it is impossible not to love what the Witnesses to Hunger program is doing. So here are 11 photos that offer a window into the day-to-day struggles of exemplary mothers as they make the most out of not enough to raise their families. A big thanks to the individual photographers and to the program for sharing their photos—and their stories.