When Toronto’s Danielle Da Silva started travelling and working with not-for-profits around the world, she always had her camera close at hand. And while she wasn’t working as a photographer at the time, she noticed that storytelling was something these organizations all struggled with.

Avanti is a non-profit aid organization working in Ecuador with development projects that aim to transform poverty into a historical experience. Projects such as paved roads, a water filtration system and a health clinic have allowed the people of Pistishi, a remote village in the Ecuadorian Andes, to generate revenue as a tourist destination. Photo: JAMES KAO

“A lot of the not-for-profits I was working for were doing life-saving, amazing work, but they couldn’t justify spending money on video and photos,” says Da Silva. “I did one project in India where I was working as a researcher to help Dalit (Untouchable) people get free education and health care. That was profound work for me. It was my first glimpse at serious injustice. It’s something that I’m very passionate about correcting. When I came back it was really difficult to explain to people what I was doing, without visual aid.”


Avanti has recognized the many benefits that tourism can bring to Ecuador, including increased revenues to hotels, travel agencies, and Ecuadorian airlines, as well as connecting Ecuadorians to international networks and ideas. Developing a tourist-friendly environment is a high priority on Avanti’s agenda. Pictured here is a member of the Pistishi community. Photo: SANDRA LAURIN

That’s when she realized how powerful and important imagery was for not-for-profits. And that’s when she founded Photographers Without Borders. This not-for-profit pairs professional photographers with development projects around the world. Delivering high-quality imagery to these organizations helps them improve their storytelling and improve their impact. A full-time photographer and director, Da Silva jokes that Photographers Without Borders is her other full time job.


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La Senda Verde is a wildlife refuge centre based in Bolivia that works tirelessly to provide care for animals rescued from the black market and trafficking circles. Photo: KRISTI ODOM

Now over 500 members strong, Photographers Without Borders completes 40 projects a year around the world, each one dedicated to inspiring social and environmental change by showing the ways grassroots initiatives are addressing problems. Whether you’re a professional photographer looking to volunteer or someone who wants to support this organization, check out photographerswithoutborders.org to learn how you can help.

Bolivian law dictates that rescued animals cannot be returned to the wild. This has some biological merit; captive animals are exposed to human diseases, which puts wild populations at risk, while learned dependence on humans put rescued-and-released animals at risk of being re-captured. TRACEY BUYCE PHOTO.


Peruvian Hearts, a U.S. based charity founded in 2003, empowers and enables orphan girls in Peru to reach their full potential. Peruvian Hearts came to life after 11-year-old American Ana Dodson, adopted from Peru as a baby, visited orphanages in her birth country and had an epiphany. “I was blessed with a wonderful, loving family that always supported me, and I had amazing educational opportunities. I wanted these same advantages for the girls in Peru. They needed more than books and teddy bears, and I believed that if I tried, I might be able to really help them.” Photo: THOMAS DUNCAN\


Peruvian Hearts’ most impactful program is Peruvian Promise. It operates through a unique formula that combines enhanced educational opportunities, along with mentorship and participation in empowerment classes, to provide the knowledge and skills necessary for young women to break the cycle of poverty. Photo: THOMAS DUNCAN