“We are very sustainable and fund our projects through workshops, magazine sales and programmes we offer”.
She is proud that all the money made goes back to the Photographers Without Borders system.
“We are slowly growing, organically and for me it is very important to have and create a sustainable source of income,” she says.
Danielle encourages NGOs to follow suit and not only rely on donor funding. She says having a business background, and a father who is a businessman, has strongly influenced her thinking.
Danielle’s passion to work with communities across the world demands dedication.
“Growing up, I used to think that I needed to have masculine traits to be successful. I can honestly say I worked to cultivate those traits within myself but now I am working hard to undo that training,” she says.
Danielle says she is now consciously trying to be “more of myself and have more fun”.
“Sadly, too many people feel like they need to be a certain way to succeed. As a woman, I feel that it is my duty to demonstrate to women that they can and should always be themselves!” she says strongly.
However, says Danielle, it has not been easy.
“Obviously it is challenging to work in certain cultures and, even though I have been blessed to work with such amazing people all over the world, there are certain instances here and there where I become aware that I am a woman, but I just take it as it comes, and I just have to adapt to the change,” she says.
Danielle strongly believes in photography as a powerful tool for change.
“It is evidence and it changes people’s perception. It is the evidence of potentially unimagined realities. Suddenly people become aware of a story or an issue and things change when people are showed something new using a photograph; it invokes emotions, it makes people experience something within them. It is about stirring people’s spirits and emotions and creating epiphanies that can possibly alter deeper motivations, attitudes and behaviours,” she says.
As an inspiration to young women all over the world, she does not hesitate to give advice.
“Women have special gifts and there are so many things that we are capable of doing. Being a woman is not a limitation; in fact, it is a great strength and you have to cherish your gift to reach your full potential,” she says.
She adds: “You are not alone, many women have walked this path before us so that we can fly higher and higher, and women should be allies to one another and help each other out.”
So does she consider herself a feminist? “Of course I am! If someone doesn’t consider oneself a feminist then they either hate women or don’t know what they’re talking about! Basically, a feminist is just someone who believes in equality of all genders.”
Danielle says she draws her strength and inspiration from her parents.
“My parents inspire me the most as they are both relatively uneducated (my father finished school at grade 10 and my mother finished one year of psychology in university) and are both Canadian immigrants. They worked really hard not only to provide for me and my sister, but also to fulfill their own dreams,” she says.
She believes her parents have demonstrated that people can change. Danielle, for example, explains that her parents have tried their best to learn through her and her sister and through books.
“ This has shown me that anything can be achieved and people have the potential to grow and develop at any age,” she says.
Danielle says that with the growth of social media, disruption is normal. It is, however, important to compete in the internet space where there is so much information and so many causes. If there is no great visual information, she explains, then people doubt credibility.
“ It is a major challenge to stay relevant in the age of selfies, social media and smart phones,” she says, but her organisation tries to drive high quality content that is also engaging and uplifting.
“In this age where people are being bombarded with never-ending information and misinformation, there are a lot of people suffering from burnout—and it is easy for them to turn away other than helping to make change,” she says.
In the future, Danielle says that she would love to work with more grassroots groups and hopefully with bigger organisations in order to amplify voices further. She is happy that the United Nations is moving towards the direction of helping organisations and people working in the grassroots.
“I want to build a sense of community amongst people on a local and global level, especially in this capitalist day and age where the sense of community is becoming lost,” she says.
She also wishes to learn more through her travels and have millions of views on Photographers Without Borders videos as well as have more people join the community.
VISIT TO KENYA
Danielle Khan Da Silva was in Kenya for three weeks in the month of May. A human trafficking story caught her attention and other case involving sexual exploitation and abuse.
The HAART organisation requested Photography Without Boarders to document the web series and also needed photographs to be taken as well.
She conducted interviews in Canada, of over 100 photographers to accompany her on her visit to Kenya and finally selected Matilde Simas, a mother of two from the United States to accompany her on her visit.
Matilde accompanied Danielle everywhere, taking photos as well as writing out small captions for each photo as well as taking notes behind the scenes.
She met with HAART Kenya Project Officer, Winnie Mutevu, in Ngong as well as other staff of the organisation.
She also met several human trafficking and sexual assault survivors and actors who she documented in her series.