The biggest project and one which is ongoing that I had worked on in ActionAid Ireland was the Village Sponsorship project. At the time, June 2014, a number of other NGOs and charities had come under scrutiny for mishandling donations. ActionAid was not one of those organisations but due to the nature of the sector all organisation were judged. In response to this we needed to show how donations and income was being spent. We decided to work on a project which put people into one of the village where much of the donations went. In Uganda there was a small village Amuru. Here a number of water projects and educational initiatives had been implemented. The standard of living had increased and sanitary conditions had improved.
We had stable and strong ties with people in the village so we decided we wanted to allow people here in Ireland to be able see these benefits they had helped generate. Initially we thought a blog would be ideal, people from the village would send stories of how they were doing and we would update a website. That was the foundation, and over the course of the coming months the concept grew. I like to call it project Eastenders. We had gotten a high quality 360 degree view of the town and decided to use that as an interface to allow people to interact with, clicking on different sections of the town would pull up different stories associated with the location. Like a running soap the website would be updated every few weeks and an email would be sent out telling people about the updates.
As the project evolved we started growing it not just in terms of scope but in the types of media we started to get back from the village. A photographer spent some time there detailing the locals, capturing them and their stories via image, text, video and audio. Sending them back to us we placed them on the website to give a real depth and texture to the experience. I had worked on something like this whilst at college (See Project Eligo), a full rich multimedia experience but it’s rare you get to work on something which has this type of meaning attached to it and have such a level of expression.