About Luc Forsyth
Luc Forsyth is a freelance photojournalist and writer who specializes in social and humanitarian storytelling. This is his blog, a place to share photography, writing and ideas.
You can contact Luc at email@example.com
Luc is a collaborating member of the Ruom Collective. Bringing together journalists, researchers, videographers, and photographers, the collective provides an opportunity to exchange and share information - providing multiple perspectives and more depth to long-term documentary projects.
SubscribeEnter your email address above for updates on featured stories and content.
Support Independent Journalism
All of my projects are self-funded. The costs of travel and equipment are substantial. If you would like to continue to see stories that aren't always featured in the mainstream media, please consider a small one-off donation or a monthly subscription to help keep independent journalism alive.
- The Unlikely Peace of Human Rights Day December 12, 2013
- Monks March for Human Rights December 9, 2013
- Monks Begin Protest Marches Ahead of Human Rights Day December 5, 2013
- 5 Reasons to Set Aside Your Ego: The Benefits of Working Together December 3, 2013
- What Do Monks Eat For Breakfast? November 21, 2013
Looking For Something?
- RT @RuomCollective: Both @LucForsyth and Marta Kasztelan's reportages on the 10-day monk march for Human Rights Day are on our Facebook htt… about 2 hours ago from TweetDeck ReplyRetweetFavorite
- A personal account of the unlikely peace of #HumanRightsDay in #phnompenh. - http://t.co/XPqakjbyDV #cambodia about 4 hours ago from web ReplyRetweetFavorite
- December 2013
- November 2013
- October 2013
- September 2013
- August 2013
- July 2013
- June 2013
- April 2013
- March 2013
- February 2013
- January 2013
- December 2012
- November 2012
- October 2012
- September 2012
- August 2012
- July 2012
- June 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- December 2011
- November 2011
- October 2011
Category Archives: NGO Work
I was recently contacted by Ruban Selvanayagam, a journalist and social enterprise activist based in Brazil, about using some of my images for an article on Habitation for The Planet’s web site. While I am happy to share my photos around the web, I was a little bit hesitant about emailing full resolution files to people who email me out of the blue. But after reading the article he has written on the lack of adequate housing for the poor in Korea, I am proud to be involved. Well written and thoroughly researched, this article is a worthwhile read for anyone interested in the reasons why places like the Guryong Panjachon exist.
This is just an excerpt from his article. Read the full version here.
Now well reputed as an Asian economic success story, South Korea has made huge strides in terms of growth since the end of the war with the North – transforming from an aid recipient nation with an income per head on a par with the poorest parts of Africa to a member of the OECD development assistance committee (the so called “rich man’s club”). When looking at the housing sector in its current form, however, progress has not been so exemplary with the familiar global story of poor living conditions mirroring rising disparate wealth distribution. As outlined below, despite modern history demonstrating some impetus from the government to incentivise and regulate the social housing sector, much of what has been achieved has fallen short of what is necessary – evidently placing more priority on middle-upper class biased models.
Since the late 1980s, the government´s role in housing policy increased somewhat and, as Kim Dae Jung was ruled into power, it was acknowledged that past policies did not pay enough attention to the needs of the poor. The notion that it was the South Koreans themselves that needed to develop their own communities broadly based on bringing a more balanced relationship between individuals, communities and the government was deemed as the most appropriate direction. From the 1960s up until this point, the country – as with much of East Asia – adopted a guiding principle of social policy being immediately linked to economic growth and that rising incomes would assumedly lead to better standards of housing, fuelled largely by the private sector but supported by preferential interest rates / mortgage finance and delivery system improvements. However, particularly due to rapid urban population growth, demand outpaced supply which not only led to rapidly inflated prices but also the growth of slum settlements, particularly in urban areas such as Seoul. The growing conflict of interest was well demonstrated in the eviction of an estimated 700,000 people between 1985 and 1988 in the build up to the Seoul Olympic Games.
Under the pressure and watchful eye of increasingly present NGO and other housing campaigning activity, the government was seen stepping up its efforts towards the end of the 1980s. Yet whilst the 1989 launch of the “Two Million Housing Construction Plan” was deemed successful from a broader market perspective, it left the low income market relatively untouched. Indeed, by 1995 the Korea National Housing Corporation (KNHC) demonstrated that 13 percent of urban households were using one room for the whole family; 34 percent of national stock did not meet national minimum standards and 49,370 households were living in squatter settlements (a figure that had doubled by the year 2000 as a result of the Asian financial crisis). The early 1990s saw private rented housing being given more permanent status – however due to the very small size of the units; the distant locations from where residents worked and complicated financial management which limited access to those in the low income groups, real demand remained low. The government subsequently continued to remain largely criticised for not addressing the issue of poor housing standards in contrast to the bullish growth of urbanisation and real estate development for the privileged economic groups……read the rest of the article here.
A while ago I wrote and article for Groove magazine to try and raise awareness for Same World Same Chance, a community development program in Kibombomene, Zambia. I spent 6 weeks at the project site last year and was truly inspired by the work they are doing. I wanted to repost this here because SWSC is an amazing organization and deserves all the support it can get. Get involved – volunteer, fundraise, donate.
In 2006, two university graduatesfrom Canada landed in Africa with vague notions of making a difference in the world. Kim Hurley and Marissa Izma had no clear idea of how they would do this, but after several months they found themselves in the small community of Kibombomene, Zambia.
“We just wanted to be rural because the media portrayed such a negative image of Africa and we just needed to see it for ourselves,” says Izma. From this, Same World Same Chance was born – an independent, education based, community development organization.
Four years later, Izma still lives in Zambia while Mrs. Hurley has returned to Canada to raise funds. On the project site, a two-room schoolhouse, a library, staff housing, and an organic farm now stand where before there was only a diamond shaped plot of wild brush land.
In a time when people are becoming increasingly mistrustful of how NGOs spend their funding, Same World Same Chance is a prime example of how the compassion and drive of individuals is still the most effective force for social change.
“I have personally seen some NGOs running in Zambia that are misusing funds, [and] it makes me angry because SWSC strives on making our priority that every cent gets spent in the best way possible,” Izma states, though she makes it clear that she has also seen a lot of money being used effectively.
According to Izma, “The biggest challenge has been integrating into a rural community and into a culture that is so different from my own. It has been important though, because we knew that we had to immerse ourselves within the community to discover who the notable members were. We needed to know who could trust us, and who we could trust so that we could work together. Without the community of Kibombomene, the project is nothing.”
Education in Zambia, especially in rural areas, is sub-standard to say the least. While there was an existing primary school in the village before the arrival of SWSC, the reliability of teachers was a daily question. If and when they did show up, their effectiveness (and often their sobriety) was dubious. Local children would attend this school for years under the impression that they were receiving an education that would help them further their lives. But when it came time to write the national exams, many found that they were unable to read the questions.
Izma and Hurley hope that the free secondary education program offered by SWSC can be part of a solution. “We want people to graduate from here and move into the world and create more positive change.”
But SWSC also believes in helping Kibombomene help itself. Their goal is not simply to help students graduate so they can get a job in the nearest city, but rather give local residents the skills and education they need to so the village can thrive independently. Besides paying the salaries of two local teachers and funding an organic farming project, SWSC has established a local manufacturing industry which now makes tailored bags and blankets that are sold internationally. All proceeds from this initiative are put back into the project and by extension, the community.
A health committee has been created to give free medical services to the village residents. Led by Candace Ngungu (a Canadian nurse who came to the project as a volunteer and ended up marrying a local man), the fledgling clinic will be invaluable for Kibombomene’s people, who have no real access to a hospital. In a country where AIDSand malaria are ongoing threats, having free professional medical assistance could mean the difference between life and death.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of SWSC is how ambitious it is in the scope of its long-term vision. When it reaches maturity, the project site will be home to six classrooms, a nursery, a trade school for continuing education, a boarding house for up to 200 students, a full health center, a community assembly hall, and eventually even roadside restaurants and shops so that the operation can be truly self sustaining. Staff numbers are steadily increasing, with volunteers expected from Canada, the US, Germany, and Japan.
Though the future looks bright for SWSC, this project remains an intense labour of love, and it would not exist without the persistence and dedication of its leaders. “This isn’t easy, and it certainly isn’t perfect,” says Izma, “but I never have to force myself out of bed in order to do it. That makes it all worthwhile.”
SWSC cannot exist without independent support. To get involved, consider a modestdonation, buying some locally produced goods or exploring the various volunteering opportunities available. Visit www.sameworldsamechance.org. for more information.