We are thrilled to announce the first five citizen media outreach projects to receive Rising Voices microgrants. They represent the foresight and ambition that were consistent in all of the applications we received.
In total we received 142 project proposals from over 40 different countries. The overwhelming response is a testament to the global enthusiasm for citizen media that stretches from Southern Chile to rural Nigeria, from a village in Mali without electricity to urban Mongolia; from an orphanage in Ethiopia to a center for disabled HIV/AIDS patients in Kenya. The list goes on and on, but what all of the project proposals have in common is a desire to enable their communities to tell their own stories, to write their own first draft of history, to document their traditions and culture before they are washed away by the tides of globalization.
Over the next month I'll be introducing each of the following projects in more detail. We'll also be announcing the Rising Voices website where you will be able to follow the developments of each project and each project participant. Without further ado, the first round grantees of Rising Voices:
Vickie Remoe-Doherty – Sierra Leone:
Vickie  is helping coordinate the Think Build Change Salone  initiative which seeks to help rebuild post-civil war Sierra Leone by providing training and work experience to Sierra Leonean youth with paid internship positions at local non-profit organizations. This year's interns will be required to record their experiences using weblogs, audio, and video. By documenting their experiences at various non-profit organizations around Sierra Leone they will cover issues of health, environment, democracy, post conflict reconstruction, women’s issues, information technology, education, government accountability & transparency, and community development. Once the interns feel comfortable with the tools themselves, they will organize several workshops around the country teaching citizen media to other groups.
Juliana Rincón, Jorge Montoya, and Álvaro Ramirez – Medellín Colombia:
This project started out as two separate proposals. Juliana [ES]  and Jorge [ES]  had set out to do a number of new media training workshops in collaboration with an outreach initiative (.doc)  of Medellín's public library system . Álvaro [ES]  proposed to organize a video blogging workshop [ES]  in the working class neighborhood of La Loma de San Javier. Fortunately, the two groups agreed to share their resources, tools, and time so that both projects can go forward.
Kazi Rafiq Islam and Kathryn Ward – Dhaka, Bangladesh:
Kazi Rafiq Islam and Kathy Ward are the Coordinator and Executive Director of the Nari Jibon Project  in Dhaka, Bangladesh. As you can see from the website, the organization is already involved in outstanding work with young women in Dhaka. With the help of the Rising Voices microgrant, they will introduce Bangladeshi girls and women to blogging, photography and video-blogging by incorporating blogging assignments into existing English, computer, and Bangla classes. You can see some examples of what is to come at Bangladesh from our View .
Mario Duran, Eduardo Ávila, Hugo Miranda – El Alto, Bolivia:
Mario [ES] , Eduardo [ES] , and Hugo [ES]  will organize a series of four bi-weekly sessions that will last three hours each. They will provide hands on training at a local internet cafe in El Alto , Bolivia and encourage participants to write about their lives, families, and community and communicate to the rest of Bolivia and the world that, for the most part, the daily life in the impoverished city of El Alto is just like daily life anywhere else.
Bishan Samaddar, Sahar Romani, Aparna Ray – Kolkata, India:
Bishan and Sahar are the coordinators of Kalam: Margins Write , a creative writing program for marginalized youth in India. They've already done amazing work  using print to encourage creativity and self-expression with poetry and creative writing. This Rising Voices microgrant will help establish a new project, “Neighborhood Diaries”, which will train underprivileged youth living in Kolkata's slums to be citizen journalists. As they wrote on their application, “Often urban slums in India are misrepresented and sensationalized.” By empowering young residents who live there to tell their own stories, they will gain power on how their community is portrayed. You can find out more about Kalam: Margins Write on their weblog .
You'll be hearing a lot more about these five exciting projects in the weeks and months to come. The next round of Rising Voices funding will take place in September. The application process will be made more public and more participatory so that Global Voices readers can offer their input on the proposals, make suggestions, and even offer help and resources.
If you are interested in providing funding to help support more of these inspiring projects, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.