Faces of hope in storytelling campaign

September 3, 2016

Faces of hope in storytelling campaign

Jasmine Jenke, 26, honours locals on the Humans of South Auckland Facebook page and will soon publish a book of their stories. Photo: Supplied

When a 14-year-old student took her own life, teacher Jasmine Jenke was moved to take a new direction.

The dance and media studies teacher at Papatoetoe High School decided to focus on communities in South Auckland, in the style of Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York Facebook page.

“I felt like we were really lacking in hope. I made it our goal to develop stories of hope and of pride, highlight the good stuff that’s happening here,” Mrs Jenke said.

Each week, the page, Humans of South Auckland (HOSA), recognises one local person nominated by others in the community. A photo is posted on Facebook, accompanied by a short quote about their life.

The page has now been ‘liked’ by nearly 25,000 Facebook users.

A South Aucklander herself, Mrs Jenke said when she first started the page she had “no idea” what she was doing. When she asked for help with HOSA’s administration work, she was surprised by the response.

Not only did someone take her up on her offer, other people soon reached out about designing the website, editing copy and helping with other aspects of the project.

This allowed Mrs Jenke to focus on the next phase of the project.

“I always had the intention that one day I was going to do a book and publish all the stories. That was the purpose of doing this.”

In November, this goal will be achieved, when a book containing the stories of all the people featured on the site will be released. The printing will be funded by prize money Mrs Jenke won from competitions, including an AMP regional scholarship.

“ We’re printing 2000 copies. With 1000 of them we’re just going to distribute them back into the community.

“It’s going to go into every high school in south Auckland. It’s going to into every GP practice. It’s going to go into places like Plunket, Victim Support.”

Phil Hands said he was “humbled” to be featured in the book.

He was nominated by his friend Lisa after starting his own Facebook page which encouraged people to do random acts of kindness for others.

Mr Hands said the response his page received after the HOSA post was published was “off the hook”.

“We’ve had such an influx of people wanting to join the group.”

He told Te Waha Nui projects such as HOSA and Random Acts of Kindness built a sense of community in south Auckland.

“It offers hope when you see the brewing crime rates and you see the poverty and you see the homelessness.”

Roger Fowler, director of the Mangere East Community Centre, is on the editorial committee of the “good news” paper, the 275 Times.

He said alternative media, such as HOSA and 275 Times, built a sense of community in south Auckland.

“People are talking to each, listening to each other learning from each other and working together for the betterment and the wellbeing of our community.”

Random Acts of Kindness Day was marked in New Zealand on Thursday (September 1).

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