The Face-to-Face Project (F2F) began in 2003 as a Harvard Medical School initiative to document the AIDS pandemic in South Africa. We photographed, filmed, and interviewed scores of people, many now deceased, and presented their life stories in the U.S. to raise awareness of the AIDS pandemic. To this end, we exhibited our AIDS PhotoMosaics and gave presentations at numerous universities, museums, and international conferences. Still, we wanted to do more to help the people who’d entrusted us with their stories. We also felt our donors wanted to support projects that directly benefited the people whose stories had so moved them.
And so F2F evolved into a charity that uses its documentary experiences to reveal local economic, cultural, and societal realities, and then build on-the-ground programs that local communities take ownership of. In 2006, we moved our focus to Malawi, and added Cambodia in 2007; both places are among the most impoverished, disease-stricken countries in their respective areas. We believe that working in these similar yet very different nations informs our programming in ways that can be unique and forward-thinking. We bring together the best of our experiences in both countries to come up with programs that often challenge established methods of charity.
Mission and goals of the Face-to-Face Project: The Face-to-Face Project strives to develop a mindset among local people to building sustainable and replicable model communities in poverty-affected Malawi and Cambodia. In short, we “help them help themselves.” In the process, we emphasize the following directives:
- Giving voice to Malawians and Cambodians affected by HIV/AIDS and poverty so we may better understand who they are and how they live their lives.
- Enabling orphans and vulnerable children to benefit from learning experiences that can help them help the communities from where they come.
- Promoting practical, innovative programs that strengthen the basic foundations of a community.
- Valuing cultural and economic realities when planning and implementing programs.
- Connecting donors to programs so they know who is being supported and how lives are being improved.
- Adapting successful concepts and policies from Cambodia to programs in Malawi. And vice versa.
- Maintaining the highest standards of honesty and transparency regarding all of our operations.
- Engaging people to understand real-life situations in Malawi and Cambodia, and inspiring them to actively support thoughtful charity.
For more information about the Face-to-Face Project, please visit the Face-to-Face project website