And so the inspiration for Ripple Effect Images was born. In creating the nonprofit, Griffiths brought together a team of world-class photographers and filmmakers who are “committed to shining a light on programs that help women all around the world,” she says. From day one, the organization’s goal has been to identify innovative projects that can be replicated in one of seven areas (or “pillars”) that affect women and children — food, water, health, education, energy, economic empowerment and the impact of climate change.
Once a program is vetted and chosen, Ripple sends a photographer and filmmaker to document its work; then they donate the film and images to the organization so it can use them to increase awareness and funding. In addition, the images and footage become part of Ripple’s photo library, which is available to all its aid grantees. Ripple also shares the images and videos through a dynamic social media network.
Besides bringing attention to their needs, Griffiths wants to change the narrative surrounding poor women in developing countries. “I’ve had the privilege of working with women in dozens of countries, and the perspective I gained by spending time in their kitchens, tents and simple homes led me to realize that these women and their children are the best investment the world can make in our shared future,” says Griffiths, the pro bono executive director of Ripple Effect Images in Reston, Va. “I want to show how valuable women are so people can continue to invest in them and not see them as victims.”
In the Western world, “we tend to have one-note views of poor women, and that’s just wrong on so many levels — they’re so much more than the obstacles they face,” says Griffiths, who has two grown children and three grandchildren. “They love their kids and spouses the way we love our kids and spouses. They are capable of overcoming so much, so the last thing they need is pity . They need some empathy and people to believe in them because they have hope and laughter and a confidence about what’s possible.” That’s one reason Ripple’s films are rarely narrated. Instead, the women tell their own stories, which underscores their intelligence, strength and hope.