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Year One: Laying the Foundation 2016-2017


The first year of the Photovoices project was, on one level, a straight-forward investigative, awareness and skill-building project. In total, the youth from 6 different communities chose 7 topics to focus on: village potential, roads, trash, malnutrition, poor housing, school drop-out, and child, early, and forced marriage (CEFM). On another level, the project was complicated due to the cultural sensitivity and personal nature of two issues identified and taken up by the young participants -- school drop-out and CEFM. The 2016-17 project was important as it build student and community awareness about these sensitive issues. It was pivotal in that laid the groundwork for projects to come by breaking through taboos that extended even to talking about these issues.

When we started the project, most participants had never held a camera before and were anxious about breaking them or “doing it wrong.” They also had a lot fear around interviewing community members in general and particularly related to the sensitive issues of school drop-out and CEFM. The students have come a long way since then. In addition to developing photography skills, they learned how to engage with and interview community members and participate in critical dialogues with each other about sensitive topics. They built skills in researching and synthesizing information; creating presentations and using photographs and stories to highlight their concerns to decision-makers.



student participants


main issues


student groups campaigned in schools, communities and to government leaders


community members interviewed


trainers and teachers



Youth Advocates

At the beginning of the project, the students were very nervous and shy about approaching older members of their communities for interviews. Despite the rough start, the student participants were able to advocate on behalf of their communities and present to decision-makers, producing outcomes that benefited the six communities they represented. During the presentation they managed to make an impression on the deputy regent of Karangasem (see quote below) and the deputy subdistrict head of Karangasem who said “I am shocked to learn today from the students that there are actually still cases of child marriage occurring in our district… I am very impressed that the students of Empower Spark can perform research and convey the information very well. We from the sub-district government will follow up and immediately come down to the villages to provide education about the dangers of child marriage on both the aspects of the law and also the social aspect. “

Ni Luh Suci Muliawati, Head of Development Section Kubu Sub District

Child, Early, and Forced Marriage (CEFM)

Young participants identified CEFM as a major concern and chose to tackle this issue despite worries about its sensitive nature. In 2015-2016, the year before students participated in the project, 7 of their peers, aged 13-18, had dropped out of school to get married. Students researched the issue, talked to community members and proceeded to present their findings to the government. The regional government was surprised to learn that CEFM was still in practice in their area and committed to providing outreach to the communities. Bunga Hamlet was the first to issue a hamlet-wide regulation against CEFM.

Roads Were Paved and Repaired

Around ¾ of the length of the dirt road leading from Dlundungan to Darmaji was repaired and paved. An additional 3 kilometers of road in Daya was repaired and elevated to avoid damage from flooding.

Housing Aid

Number of houses built and repaired: 9 new houses were built in Manikaji, 10 out of 12 houses in Bunga that needed assistance were repaired, 3 out of 7 houses in Pengalusan were repaired, and 21 families in Darmaji received housing aid.

Ban's Natural Potential

Participants showed great interest in developing Ban for eco-tourism. Although there is still a long way to go, especially keeping in mind Mt. Agung eruptions in 2017-2018, the youth took the initiative to map out trekking routes and recommend highlighting the village’s potentials, such as bamboo weaving, natural water springs, dramatic views of Mt. Agung, and local agricultural products to be promoted for tourism.


"I still see many community members feel embarrassed if her daughter is big already but still in school and not yet married. They tend agree that if a child already knows how to read and write that is enough already and they do not need to continue to high school. As a result, school-age girls are getting married and I seetheir lives are very difficult because they are actually not ready to take care of a household, they often quarrel with their husbands, and are unable to do housework properly. In the end, they often return home to their parents and become a burden on the family.

Ibu Sukerni, Cegi Hamlet

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