Case Study: Brandon Stanton (HONY) and the Bonded Labour Liberation Front Campaign
“My sister’s kidneys were failing. We tried to raise the money to save her. We sold our cattle. We sold our property. We sold everything we had. When we ran out of options, I took a 5,000 rupee loan from the brick kiln…I never saw my wages. If I wanted to stop, they beat me…There’s no way out. Soon my debt will pass on to the next generation.”
The man in conversation with Stanton is explaining the corrupt, oppressive nature of the brick kiln industry in Lahore, Pakistan. This post was included in a larger series following the active slave labour industry in Pakistan.
Each post focused on an individual who was directly or indirectly enslaved in brick kiln labor. Stanton began the series by introducing Syeda Ghulam Fatima and his subsequent campaign to support her organization, the Bonded Labour Liberation Front.
After just 4 days, people had donated over $2.3 million to the campaign.
Stanton’s ability to catalyze such immense generosity is astounding. His secret?
He is curious and knows how to listen.
When interviewed about his original motivations behind Humans of New York, Stanton explains,
Rather than adhering to the common numerical formula which characterizes a census, Stanton opted to reframe counting people, not as numbers, but as the stories they chose to share.
With many millions of social media followers and two published books, both of which made the New York Times Nonfiction Bestseller List, and the ability to raise $2.3 million in 96 hours, Brandon Stanton has discovered the power of storytelling.
Stories will always generate more empathy and engagement from their audiences than facts and numbers will.
If Stanton had decided that numerical censuses are the only ones of value, we would have missed the incredible opportunity of meeting hundreds of people through his pictures and, perhaps, he never would have met Syeda Ghulam Fatima or raised $2.3 million.