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Stories of Survival

Journalism becoming democratized and leveraged as a tool for community empowerment, economic gain, and unity.

Photo of Valerie
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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Stories of Survival is an online content platform for survivors. Through our platform, survivors of terror attacks in Syria and London, Somalia and France, or earthquake survivors from Papua New Guinea, Pakistan and the USA, can connect and interact with each other, tell their stories first-hand, and find or continue their path towards healing and prosperity. Our project involves the participation of individual survivor contributors, community members trained as citizen journalists, engaged story readers, freelance journalists, community service organizations, and media houses. The challenge we solve is that of survivors feeling isolated, demoralized, and disempowered due to trauma and lack of support. Survivors may feel that there isn’t a safe place to share their story or that no one is listening or trying to solve their problems. Whether in the beginning stages of their healing or already looking to transform their experience into a force for change in their communities, our platform provides a channel of connection and resources. For example, a sexual assault survivor may be in search of support. They read stories from other sexual assault survivors and make the step to reach out to a survivor contributor on the platform, or be emboldened to upload their own story. Their story is then translated and published, and if consented, shared to support groups that offer services that may help. The survivor, now supported and healing, can become a source of support for others in their own community, inviting others to share their stories too. The platform also serves as a source for citizen journalists looking to highlight and report stories of survival within their communities. The attention and engagement a story garners could, with the survivor’s consent, become a story pitch to a media house, and an opportunity for shared earnings and far reaching impact.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Our beneficiaries are any person who views themselves as a survivor. We have begun to focus predominantly on male youth from Liberia aged 18 - 40 years old. They come from lower income households and are survivors of civil war, sex abuse, poverty, and trafficking. They are isolated and feel shameful, and lack support and access to information in their communities. For them, it is difficult to get through their day and find a platform to speak out. They are hopeful for the future, and want to see change. Their motivation is to be prosperous by feeling less alone. They desire to communicate with others and are internet savvy. Liberia is not heavily reported on by international media, so our beneficiaries would serve to highlight issues within their communities and have a platform to be heard globally. Former child soldiers would be able to connect to war survivors from Syria and feel less isolated. The individual contributors could choose to be trained as citizen journalists.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

We are the only online community focusing exclusively on survival, a subject that is both personal and important to everyone. We are committed to finding ways to support survivors on their path towards healing, while offering training and economic opportunities to survivors and fellow community members in journalism. Other organizations address a storytelling need, but aren’t also offering an ecosystem of mental and potentially financial prosperity. Our team combines print and broadcast journalism expertise with software engineers that have nearly two decades of top-tier industry experience. We are as skilled in our fields as we are passionate about this idea.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Prototype: I have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing the idea.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Storytale, Inc. is the incorporated entity that encompasses the Stories of Survival platform and we seek to promote healing, connection, and empathy by sharing one billion survival stories on a global scale.

Expertise in sector

  • 1-2 years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered company.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

I believe survivors deserve recognition for simply having the spirit to continue, to survive. When traveling the world as a journalist reporting on stories, I was struck by the spirit of survival people had in the most dire situations. Across the world and in my own personal experiences there is pressure to hide the pain we experience. But instead let's celebrate survival and share our stories to heal.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

​Peace is influenced by seeing the humanity in another person even though you may not agree with their views. Our project enables the sharing of stories that are common to the experience of being human. Hostages are treated better by their captors when they are identified by their captors as being human and in this way similar to a member of their own family. This finding is the basis of teaching journalists undergoing Hostile Environment Training to tell a kidnapper their name and do things that remind their captors of their humanness, like cleaning their cell for example. Therefore, sharing human survival experiences can build bridges that can influence peace through recognition of a person's humanity through relating to them via a common experience. Prosperity is influenced by the knowledge that you are not alone and the security a network offers. It also enables empowerment through having a platform on which to speak and be heard and the potential to increase your income stream.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

​We are working with initiatives in various countries that tell stories linked to survival. These include Street Voices in Toronto, Canada, a print magazine that empowers marginalized voices focusing on homeless communities and Films With a Cause, which highlights stories of Syrian refugees. They are engaged in sharing their stories with our platform and in return gaining the exposure to our global audience leading to more eyeballs on their stories and increased awareness of their cause. At the same time we harness additional sources for our survival stories. This engagement can currently be seen on our project's social media where these organizations have announced collaborations with us on their own Facebook and Instagram pages and shared their stories with us, which we have in turn published on our social media. This will function in the same way on our platform.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

The community ​of survivors which we serve currently have no easy way of reaching others who have had similar experiences beyond the borders of their home, neighborhoods, or countries. However, we have trained citizen journalists in several countries to collect stories and have ambitions to live stream dialogues between survivors. We currently have citizen journalists in Liberia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Germany, United Kingdom, USA, Canada, and Bangladesh.

Geographic Focus

This idea is by design global, but we have predominantly been focused on African nations.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

We would require 24 - 30 months to have the platform live with features that would enable healing for the community.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No


Join the conversation:

Photo of Jean-Marc Mercy

Great idea, Valerie. I like the way you clearly explain how survivors share their stories though your platform. It looks like you have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing the idea. Can you please outline the next steps you are planning to take to implement your idea?

Photo of Valerie

Thank you Jean-Marc for your comments! We have a design sprint planned to test some of our main assumptions regarding this idea, such as "are survivors looking for other survivors and their stories". The next major step would be to make our idea a reality by taking the insights learned and launching the platform!

Photo of Jean-Marc Mercy

@Valerie: Thank you for your response. You might also need to share a user-experience map and foresee the impact your idea might have by sharing a story from a potential user.

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