MVP: The Millennium Villages Project
Ron Haviv, Danny Wilcox Frazier, Gary Knight, Ed Kashi
United Photo Industries designed and fabricated a retired school bus and transformed it into a traveling exhibition, featuring photos created by four photographers on behalf of The VII Foundation. The traveling exhibition supported a classroom curriculum program developed by Generation Human Rights.
Over the course of two semesters, the bus visited high schools all across the United States, sparking conversations and ideas with students on how sustainable development can be utilized in their own communities and looking critically at successes and challenges that communities face while trying to adapt to a changing world.
The VII Foundation photographers and filmmakers documented life on the ground in sub-Saharan Africa’s most impoverished villages, at the close of a decade of targeted poverty reduction interventions. Danny Wilcox Frazier, Ron Haviv, Ed Kashi, Gary Knight and Fiona Turner bring to life the realities of villagers in Ethiopia, Ghana, Rwanda, and Senegal, capturing the big picture through small, intimate details and moments that personalize the experience of this vast economic development project.
The Millennium Villages Project, a brainchild of Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University, set out to improve the quality of life for villagers living in some of Africa’s poorest locales. Ambitiously targeting multiple sectors of daily life, such as health, education, and infrastructure, the project operated on a ten-year timeline, which came to a close at the end of 2015.
The initial analyses of the ten-year-long project suggest wide successes. As Joshua Hammer, award-winning international correspondent, writes in his introduction to the MVP book: “New roads… allowed farmers to bring their crops to markets in nearby towns, building a monetized economy. In some villages, cash went to pay for solar-generated power, helping to create a sustainable electrical grid.” Of successes with girls’ education, he adds, it’s “a phenomenon that would have been unimaginable a mere decade ago.”
Through the documentation produced by the The VII Foundation visual storytellers such reports come to life. Their work includes four photo essays, accompanying films, a book, and an exhibition. The statistics from Sachs’ Earth Institute at Columbia University become more than merely numbers; this visual work gives dynamism and feeling to the people impacted by the interventions. As Bono himself writes in the foreword to the book: “While I love statistics, what calls us all are great stories and pictures like these in this book, which paint a billion words. Read them. Then take action. For there’s no time to lose.”