Wattsoflove! How to use Mobile-Photography and the Social Medias for the Greater Good! by Dilshad Corleone
There is very little presentation required when we talk about Kevin Kuster. He is the main man and right hand to Josh Johnson’s @Joshjohnson #JJ feed. A great photographer with a fascinating background, Kevin, is truly an inspirational man and an amazing friend! I was considering interviewing Kevin for a long time, and now it truly seems the most appropriate moment as he is involved with the non-profit charity organisation www.wattsoflove.org. They have distributed 1000 solar LED lights to Ilin Island, in the Philippines, last February to the poorest of the poor and the effects were life changing. Ilin Island has never had any electricity, running water or medical assistance. The 35,000 islanders have been all but forgotten and struggle to survive every day. while I am writing this, Kevin is on his way back to Ilin Island as he has received word that much of the island and its neighbouring islands have been crushed by typhoon #hayian and #yolanda. To me this is one of the most enriching way to use all the social medias and mobile photography at its best, so please do read this and if you can help just do it!
DC: Dilshad Corelone KK: Kevin Kuster.
DC: So what is Wattsoflove? And how did you get involved with them?
KK:Watts of Love is an international nonprofit that specializes in providing solar lights to people who live in darkness once the sun goes down. The organization was founded by my sister Nancy and my brother-in-law, John, in July of last year. I got involved with their mission to illuminate lives when I found out that they needed a photographer to document their first-ever light drop on Ilin Island in the Philippines.
DC: It is truly sad what has happened in the recent days! Do you have any news of what is going on there now?
KK: We don’t have all details yet, we do know that almost every bamboo hut on Ilin has been completely destroyed! Thousands of families are completely without shelter and most are trying to take refuge in a local church. It is our goal to provide 10,000 solar LED lights to devastated families in three locations (Ilin, Seminara and Ambulong Islands – Occidental Mindoro, Philippines) . These lights provide safety, the ability charge to cell phones and radios for emergency communication, and most importantly to continue rebuilding their homes and community after the sun goes down.
DC: This is you second time that you are going there you already went on a field trip for Wattsoflove, can you tell me more about what you found out in the Philippines?
KK: When we disembarked for Ilin Island, I witnessed the tremendous need for solar light in action. I had no idea that light could ever have such a massive impact on a family, many of whom were forced to sit idle at night prior to receiving their solar lanterns. We found that light is actually the fastest and most effective way out of poverty, as it eliminates dependence on expensive kerosene and it enables people to be productive at night, whether by working or studying. We found that light equals HOPE, which stands for health, opportunity, power and education. While on Ilin Island, I also had the opportunity to photograph 40 couples who could not afford the expenses traditionally involved in getting married. Each was provided with a framed print of their photo, and for many of them, it was the first photo they’d ever owned or even viewed of themselves.
DC: How can Wattsoflove and photography help the people that have been affected by this tragedy?
KK: Photography and videos are the number one way to effectively tell a compelling story, and this is one that must be shared. Most people don’t know how much light actually affects our lives, and in using more visually-inspired mediums of expression, we create an atmosphere that better engages people because they can connect with the message on a more personal level.
DC: How can mobile photography combined together with charity be part of all this? And how Wattsoflove can benefit from this?
KK: Mobile photography affords us the chance to shoot images and immediately post them for others to view and begin to assemble a response. Our last trip to the Philippines was an unparalleled experience, and so many people on Instagram were following our entire adventure from beginning to end. Their enthusiasm was tangible and the support we received really helped us get through some difficult days on Ilin Island. I’m getting ready to leave for the Philippines on Thursday with a suitcase full of lights, and I’ll be taking photos of the aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan. I’m hoping to visit some of the people we brought lights to on Ilin Island and that people will follow us on Instagram @Watts_of_Love and our Facebook page www.facebook.com/wattsofloveinc for additional content as we deliver our emergency disaster relief solar lights. I will also be posting on my personal account @kevinkuster. Although I am unsure if I will be able to keep up my daily duties with the #jj community (@joshjohnson) I will also keep that amazing community informed of my experiences and travels as well.
DC: Indeed, you are well involved with social medias so, can instagram or other social network be part or be a means of divulging the message? How important are these social networks and how can people help or even be part of the amazing work that you have started?
KK: Instagram and mobile photography have really given us a perfect method of disseminating our message to concerned and compassionate people all around the world. The number of international donations we have received has been phenomenal. When we send thank-you letters to our donors who are supporting our Philippines relief effort from places like Russia, Hong Kong, the UK and Australia, it reminds us all that there’s a lot of good in the world, and every little bit matters. Prior to our social media campaign, I didn’t know that you could go on Instagram and ask people for financial assistance, emotional support and encouragement. I have honestly and sincerely we’ve been overwhelmed by the support Watts of Love received and how much the support effected me personally.
DC: How can we take part or help?
KK: Those who are interested in helping can do so by donating, starting their own campaign and/or telling their family and friends about our mission to empower the poorest of the poor in the darkest regions of the world. Please consider donating anything you wish to fund a disaster relief solar light and power kit today. This is a huge goal, but I believe our community can help initiate the BIGGEST charity giving program on ever! Go to www.wattsoflove.org.
DC: Where can we find you? and is there anything else that you would like to add?
KK: We’re always open for new ideas and we’re interested in knowing how potential volunteers would like to help based on what they enjoy doing. We also have a policy that any images posted on our @Watts_of_Love instagram feed may be reposted to share with friends and followers, but we ask that they please properly identify where the content came from. The more people are talking and communicating about the Watts of Love mission the better.
I want to thank you Dilshad and WeAreJuxt for allowing me this opportunity to share my experiences with your great community and hopefully shed some light on a solvable global problem. Yes, it is a big task but, if we all do our part I know we can help bring light into the darkest parts of the world and change lives forever.
For more additional information you can visit www.wattsoflove.org. Please consider reposting this image and all of info on ANY of your social media channels to help Watts of Love spread the word. Thank you.