For the children at one refugee camp, the ZubaBox will be a game-changer.
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CARE & Windows 10

We hear a lot about the ways in which technology has changed lives, but it's easy to forget just how technologically privileged some parts of the world are while others are not.

While many of us can easily hop on our computers, phones, and tablets to devour everything from the latest celebrity news to innovative medical advances, there are children in many parts of the world without access to the internet to complete their homework; teachers with outdated materials who can't search for a new study to share with their students; medical professionals who are unable to read about breakthroughs in their field in a daily email digest.


Image by Computer Aid, used with permission.

While the internet is an integral part of our lives, it's a critical missing component for so many — something that could vastly improve their experiences if they could only access it.

That's where the ZubaBox comes in.

Image by Computer Aid, used with permission.

A ZubaBox provides rural areas with solar internet centers, offering those who need it most a technology many of us take for granted.

So, what does that mean?

Solar panels are placed onto a container that's converted into a tech hub for people who do not have 24/7 access to the internet.

Image by SixZeroMedia/Computer Aid, used with permission.

The implications are life-changing.

David Barker, former chief executive of Computer Aid — the organization powering this technology — spoke to BusinessGreen about the impact:

"This allows the doctor to contact specialists in the city hospital, school children to access educational material, and local people to expand their businesses, David Barker [explained]. 'Now even the local bank comes round via Macha and it plugs into the internet link, sets up its little booth, and gives you your cash,' Barker said. 'Suddenly you’ve got teachers who want to work there because they can get paid.'”

Image by SixZeroMedia/Computer Aid, used with permission.

And this is just the beginning.

There are currently 10 ZubaBoxes located in neighborhoods throughout Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, and Nigeria. And on May 26, 2016, South America received its first ZubaBox in Cazuca, Bogota. William Jimenez, regional coordinator at Tiempo de Juego, said this to Computer Aid:

"Since the Lab arrived, the younger generation has naturally been curious and excited but the emotion that this event has stirred in the elders has been really moving. The fact that someone has finally considered Cazucá a priority is not only important [because of the] technology and training provided, but also because of the optimism it inspires in the entire community."

The ZubaBoxes provide a necessary technology, but just as importantly, they provide hope and the promise of a path forward to communities that have long felt neglected.

Image by Computer Aid, used with permission.

Next stop? The Kakuma refugee camp.

Kakuma, located in Kenya, is one of the world's largest refugee camps.

Teachers at the Kakuma refugee camp are currently teaching 150 to 200 students at a time, with one textbook for every 10 students and no computers. Think about what a difference a ZubaBox will make for those kids. And think about what a difference it would make for those teachers.

Image by SixZeroMedia/Computer Aid, used with permission.

SAVIC, an organization run by Kakuma refugees, is working hard to raise awareness and funding for the ZubaBox. They aim to provide up to 1,800 young refugees an outlet through which they can expand their horizons, connect with the modern world, and share their stories.

If their efforts are rewarded, they'll be able to provide their community with access to what is quickly becoming a basic necessity, one that can show them options for how to begin to rebuild.

Watch this video to see how the ZubaBoxes are built.

Courtesy of Amita Swadhin
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In 2016, Amita Swadhin, a child of two immigrant parents from India, founded Mirror Memoirs to help combat rape culture. The national storytelling and organizing project is dedicated to sharing the stories of LGBTQIA+ Black, indigenous people, and people of color who survived child sexual abuse.

"Whether or not you are a survivor, 100% of us are raised in rape culture. It's the water that we're swimming in. But just as fish don't know they are in water, because it's just the world around them that they've always been in, people (and especially those who aren't survivors) may need some help actually seeing it," they add.

"Mirror Memoirs attempts to be the dye that helps everyone understand the reality of rape culture."

Amita built the idea for Mirror Memoirs from a theater project called "Undesirable Elements: Secret Survivors" that featured their story and those of four other survivors in New York City, as well as a documentary film and educational toolkit based on the project.

"Secret Survivors had a cast that was gender, race, and age-diverse in many ways, but we had neglected to include transgender women," Amita explains. "Our goal was to help all people who want to co-create a world without child sexual abuse understand that the systems historically meant to help survivors find 'healing' and 'justice' — namely the child welfare system, policing, and prisons — are actually systems that facilitate the rape of children in oppressed communities," Amita continues. "We all have to explore tools of healing and accountability outside of these systems if we truly want to end all forms of sexual violence and rape culture."

Amita also wants Mirror Memoirs to be a place of healing for survivors that have historically been ignored or underserved by anti-violence organizations due to transphobia, homophobia, racism, xenophobia, and white supremacy.

Amita Swadhin

"Hearing survivors' stories is absolutely healing for other survivors, since child sexual abuse is a global pandemic that few people know how to talk about, let alone treat and prevent."

"Since sexual violence is an isolating event, girded by shame and stigma, understanding that you're not alone and connecting with other survivors is alchemy, transmuting isolation into intimacy and connection."

This is something that Amita knows and understands well as a survivor herself.

"My childhood included a lot of violence from my father, including rape and other forms of domestic violence," says Amita. "Mandated reporting was imposed on me when I was 13 and it was largely unhelpful since the prosecutors threatened to incarcerate my mother for 'being complicit' in the violence I experienced, even though she was also abused by my father for years."

What helped them during this time was having the support of others.

"I'm grateful to have had a loving younger sister and a few really close friends, some of whom were also surviving child sexual abuse, though we didn't know how to talk about it at the time," Amita says.

"I'm also a queer, non-binary femme person living with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, and those identities have shaped a lot of my life experiences," they continue. "I'm really lucky to have an incredible partner and network of friends and family who love me."

"These realizations put me on the path of my life's work to end this violence quite early in life," they said.

Amita wants Mirror Memoirs to help build awareness of just how pervasive rape culture is. "One in four girls and one in six boys will be raped or sexually assaulted by the age of 18," Amita explains, "and the rates are even higher for vulnerable populations, such as gender non-conforming, disabled, deaf, unhoused, and institutionalized children." By sharing their stories, they're hoping to create change.

"Listening to stories is also a powerful way to build empathy, due to the mirror neurons in people's brains. This is, in part, why the project is called Mirror Memoirs."

So far, Mirror Memoirs has created an audio archive of BIPOC LGBTQI+ child sexual abuse survivors sharing their stories of survival and resilience that includes stories from 60 survivors across 50 states. This year, they plan to record another 15 stories, specifically of transgender and nonbinary people who survived child sexual abuse in a sport-related setting, with their partner organization, Athlete Ally.

"This endeavor is in response to the more than 100 bills that have been proposed across at least 36 states in 2021 seeking to limit the rights of transgender and non-binary children to play sports and to receive gender-affirming medical care with the support of their parents and doctors," Amita says.

In 2017, Mirror Memoirs held its first gathering, which was attended by 31 people. Today, the organization is a fiscally sponsored, national nonprofit with two staff members, a board of 10 people, a leadership council of seven people, and 500 members nationally.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, they created a mutual aid fund for the LGBTQIA+ community of color and were able to raise a quarter-million dollars. They received 2,509 applications for assistance, and in the end, they decided to split the money evenly between each applicant.

While they're still using storytelling as the building block of their work, they're also engaging in policy and advocacy work, leadership development, and hosting monthly member meetings online.

For their work, Amita is one of Tory's Burch's Empowered Women. Their donation will go to Mirror Memoirs to help fund production costs for their new theater project, "Transmutation: A Ceremony," featuring four Black transgender, intersex, and non-binary women and femmes who live in California.

"I'm grateful to every single child sexual survivor who has ever disclosed their truth to me," Amita says. "I know another world is possible, and I know survivors will build it, together with all the people who love us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

This article originally appeared on 11.21.16


Photographer Katie Joy Crawford had been battling anxiety for 10 years when she decided to face it straight on by turning the camera lens on herself.

In 2015, Upworthy shared Crawford's self-portraits and our readers responded with tons of empathy. One person said, "What a wonderful way to express what words cannot." Another reader added, "I think she hit the nail right on the head. It's like a constant battle with yourself. I often feel my emotions battling each other."

So we wanted to go back and talk to the photographer directly about this soul-baring project.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."