Wednesday, April 25 , 2018, 10:13 am | Overcast 55º

 
 
 

Local Photographer Seeks Online Votes in Grant Competition

San Marcos grad Marisa Kaitlyn Heller focuses her work on the plight of children in Cambodia

A Santa Barbara woman’s project that will allow orphaned and disadvantaged children living in Cambodia to tell the world their stories through digital photography is among the projects vying for votes on an Internet Web site in order to win a grant.

The Cambodian Photography Project, developed by Marisa Kaitlyn Heller, is aimed at helping hundreds of children living at an orphanage in Siem Reap and run by Sunrise Children’s Village.

The photo project is dedicated to promoting self-worth, awareness and creativity, giving the children an opportunity to tell their stories through digital photography, while providing valuable skills for the future, Heller said. It is among several hundred nominated for the Grant for Change, which will award a single $10,000 grant in October. The grant is offered by Nau, an eco-clothing designer based in Portland, Ore., and owned by Santa Barbara apparel company Horny Toad.

Voting for the projects ends Monday, when the top five vote-getters, along with five chosen by the company, will undergo further review before a winner is announced.

Click here to view Heller’s project online. To vote, a viewer needs to register with their e-mail address, name and a password of their choosing, then navigate back to the page to click on “rate/share” to cast a ballot. The ratings range from one to five stars.

Heller, a graduate of the University of San Francisco and San Marcos High School, is currently in New Zealand. She launched the photography project after being invited to visit the orphanage while traveling in Southeast Asia. It was while she was at the orphanage that one of the youngsters took her digital camera and started taking pictures.

“At first I was concerned about the camera as it was passed around, flashing among the children,” she said. “However, the resulting images — of eking out a life in an orphanage, of the expressions on the children’s faces and their view of their surroundings — simply stunned me. The images had a unique quality with a viewpoint that could only be captured from a child’s perspective. There was a beauty to the images that came from the heart of the children.”

When her project is complete, Heller plans an exhibition of the children’s photography. She is also looking into developing an educational component, allowing the children in Siem Reap to share their images and stories with other youngsters via e-mail or through blogs and Internet postings.

“Having grown up in Santa Barbara, I know what a caring and concerned community it is,” she said. “I’m hoping that same spirit will prompt people to vote for my project, which will make a difference in the lives of so many impoverished children.”

She noted that children make up more than half the population of Cambodia and that one-third of the population there lives in extreme poverty, subsisting on less than $1 a day.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.


Maestro, Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover, Debit

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >