Salaam Garage: Harnessing the Power of Citizen Journalism

Salaam Garage is an organization of citizen journalists that seeks to make a difference in the world by telling stories that will raise awareness and effect positive change in the world.

What Do They Do

Salaam Garage organizes trips for participants to visit and observe the work of non-governmental organizations in countries around the world. Salaam Garage provides the guidance, translators, support staff and other assistance travelers need to ensure a truly personal, hand-on experience that will change the lives of travelers and hosts alike. These citizen journalists then report on the people they meet, the work they observe, and the social and political context of the problem the organization is seeking to solve through words, pictures, videos, and other communications on social networking sites across the world wide web.

By sharing photos on Flickr, videos on YouTube, status updates on Twitter, and more, Salaam Garage and its members seek to harness the power of social media to raise awareness of the work of the featured organization and help that organization achieve its goal of effecting positive change.

Past trips have included a visit to Vatsayla, an NGO that helps street children and women in Jaipur, India by providing education, vocational training, internships, and other assistance, and to PeaceTrees Vietnam, which clears land mines, provides mine risk training, assists survivors of land mine explosions, and works to rebuild rural Vietnam by planting trees, building schools and libraries, and more.

salaamgarage citizen journalism
How You Can Help

Because Salaam Garage relies so heavily on social media to do its good work around the world, one of the most important things you can do is follow Salaam Garage on Facebook, on Twitter, on Flickr, and on your RSS aggregator of choice. Spreading awareness of Salaam Garage and its projects will help Salaam Garage get the word out about the great organizations it supports.

For the adventurous, consider signing up for one of Salaam Garage’s trips. Travelers are responsible for funding their own participation, and Salaam Garage limits the number of travelers per trip in order to minimize impact on the local community, but for successful applicants, the trips offer a unique opportunity to make a difference.

The next planned trip will visit Ethiopia in November 2010, where it will raise awareness of the work of the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The hospital treats obstetric fistulas, an injury that occurs as a result of prolonged or obstructed labor and causes a tear to form between the vagina and the bladder, rectum, or both. Fistulas causes urine and/or feces to leak constantly from the vagina, an embarrassing and unsanitary condition that can lead girls to be abandoned by their husbands and families. The condition requires surgery to correct. Teenage girls are the most frequent victims, due to their underdeveloped pelvises, which may be too small to allow a normal vaginal birth.

The Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital performs 3000 corrective surgeries per year, provides training for doctors and midwives to help prevent and treat fistulas, and educates patients and other local women about reproductive health, birth control, and women’s rights.

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