The power of the story

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The ever incredible ‘Humans of New York’ (HONY) is a prime example of the immense power that a story can bring to opening the hearts of people around the world. This power of the individuals story can drastically change the opinions, ideology and perceptions of a person or group of people created by pure ignorance.

On such a topic I decided to try my own HONY in India on a family trip. On a beach in Goa I encountered some young girls selling small items like necklaces and scarves to earn some money. One such girl had a fabricated English accent and excessive use of the term ‘Darling’. I asked about her story and found  that she was from a large family, far from Goa but she travelled twice a year to sell items on the beach to earn money. She had a boyfriend who was 18 (she was 15) and 9 siblings at home, who the money went to support. Being from Australia, my primary reaction to such a young girl working was where was her chance to get an education? I am aware that as a rich girl of the first world my trivial problems with her lifestyle might seem at odds with her necessities; housing, food and clean water (which does not flow out of every tap like it does in Australia). This profoundly affected my understanding of my privileges and responsibilities in this world with what power I’ve been given. The power of this story was that it pushed me to appreciate what I had, understand life from her perspective a little better and challenge those practices that keep her and other girls her age working when we should be eradicating poverty and pushing for girls to get educated.

Brandon Stanton (producer of HONY) has understood the power of the story and travels around the globe to share the stories of those who can’t share their own. We must remember the profound effect that our experiences have on shaping who we become and how we think. The product of our experiences can be hard to understand for someone with different experiences so it’s important to keep an open mind.

  • To read more about HONY, you can visit the Humans of New York Facebook page or buy the book.
    I was inspired into writing this by some podcasts done by TedTalks. Specifically, ‘I grew up in the Westboro Baptist Church. Here’s why I left’ by Megan Phelps-Roger; ‘Why women should tell the stories of humanity’ by Jude Kelly and ‘Our story of rape and reconciliation’ by Thordis Elva and Tom Stranger.


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