COLUMNS,  Kuster,  News

How New Media is helping Humanitarian Orgs to Change Lives

An inspirational story of Light and Love, told through Social Media

Amsterdam, NL & Illinois, USA

We’re delighted to publish this article which include our wonderful Columnist Kevin Kuster – don’t miss this…


Watts of Love, a non-profit org, partnered with startup PastBook to publish an online ebook of their recent humanitarian trip to the Philippines, delivering 1,000 solar lights to remote impoverished communities living without access to electricity. The ebook binds Instagram photos and text into an emotive story, which reads stronger as a whole over single images. This innovative method demonstrates how non-profit organisations can use new media to communicate their story and change the world.

Landing Page for the Book –



Earlier this year, Illinois based non-profit organisation Watts of Love delivered 1,000 solar lights to impoverished communities living without access to electricity on Ilin Island, Philippines. The island has roughly 35,000 people living with no access to electricity, roads, buildings, clean water, medical care or infrastructure. The mission also included photographing 40 couples who had waited years to be married, yet could not afford the $60 USD equivalent marriage license without the support of a local charity.

Throughout the journey, photographer Kevin Kuster documented the humanitarian mission by sharing real-time images on his Instagram account (@kevinkuster) and that of the JJ Community (@joshjohnson), an online photo community of over 425,000 followers where Kuster is the Chief Photo Editor. The images received an overwhelming response, and caught the attention of PastBook and many other worldwide viewers.

The Instagram photos revealed the remarkable stories of several families living on Ilin Island who struggle without basic access to electricity. They capture the emotional response of people receiving their solar light, and the extent of how light will improve their living conditions by eliminating hazardous and toxic kerosene lamps, allowing children to study longer and parents to be more productive when the sun goes down.

This was also the story of hope and love. 40 couples waited years to get legally married, an opportunity provided through the support of a local charity to cover the costs of a priest, license fee, traditional marriage clothing, and a mass ceremony for all the families. Watts of Love donated the services of a photographer and provided each couple a wedding photograph, which was printed, framed and immediately gifted to each couple – the first and only photograph these people have ever owned.


The combination of images and story-telling engage viewers and make them feel that they are being taken along on the journey. Originally, however, the photos were difficult to view as a collection within the limitations of the Instagram app format, so each photo had to be viewed one at a time.
PastBook provided an opportunity to use their technology to display the photos in a digital book format in order to more effectively communicate the full story of the mission, and donated their services to bring this story to life.

The digital book was created using the PastBook online platform, which enables a user to easily collate photos from Instagram and other social media sites into a book, and share this to spread the word. The e-book can be downloaded as a PDF, or printed as a hardcopy to present to potential followers, donors, investors, or sold to help raise funds for future projects.

PastBook will continue to make their easy-to-use and autonomous online platform available for charities and organizations to self-publish their story through social media.

This innovation allows smaller organizations to voice their presence and mission on a global scale, using minimal resources and the power of social media to help change the world.


Since the success of the first mission to Ilin Island, Watts of Love have continued their solar lighting donation program with projects in Haiti, Mozambique and Ghana. Instagram will continue to play a large role in documenting and spreading the word about these projects.

Kevin Kuster has initiated a Wedding Gift Giving Program where he will donate 10% of his photography fees from wedding commissions towards assisting couples in these poor communities who cannot afford to get married. It is his goal and intention to go back to the Philippines and other countries and institute the same successful program.

PastBook will donate profits from the sale of Watts of Love books, as well as a percentage from all personal photobooks created using the special code WATTSOFLOVE towards funding for future Watts of Love projects.

Relevant Links


Landing Page –

WOL Create a photobook page (10% of all books created donated to Watts of Love) –

Watts of Love Homepage –

PastBook Homepage –

Kevin Kuster –

Joanne Carter, creator of the world’s most popular mobile photography and art website—— TheAppWhisperer platform has been a pivotal cyberspace for mobile artists of all abilities to learn about, to explore, to celebrate and to share mobile artworks. Joanne’s compassion, inclusivity, and humility are hallmarks in all that she does, and is particularly evident in the platform she has built. In her words, “We all have the potential to remove ourselves from the centre of any circle and to expand a sphere of compassion outward; to include everyone interested in mobile art, ensuring every artist is within reach”, she has said. Promotion of mobile artists and the art form as a primary medium in today’s art world, has become her life’s focus. She has presented lectures bolstering mobile artists and their art from as far away as the Museum of Art in Seoul, South Korea to closer to her home in the UK at Focus on Imaging. Her experience as a jurist for mobile art competitions includes: Portugal, Canada, US, S Korea, UK and Italy. And her travels pioneering the breadth of mobile art includes key events in: Frankfurt, Naples, Amalfi Coast, Paris, Brazil, London. Pioneering the world’s first mobile art online gallery - has extended her reach even further, shipping from London, UK to clients in the US, Europe and The Far East to a global group of collectors looking for exclusive art to hang in their homes and offices. The online gallery specialises in prints for discerning collectors of unique, previously unseen signed limited edition art. Her journey towards becoming The App Whisperer, includes (but is not limited to) working for a paparazzi photo agency for several years and as a deputy editor for a photo print magazine. Her own freelance photographic journalistic work is also widely acclaimed. She has been published extensively both within the UK and the US in national and international titles. These include The Times, The Sunday Times, The Guardian, Popular Photography & Imaging, dpreview, NikonPro, Which? and more recently with the BBC as a Contributor, Columnist at Vogue Italia and Contributing Editor at LensCulture. Her professional photography has also been widely exhibited throughout Europe, including Italy, Portugal and the UK. She is currently writing several books, all related to mobile art and is always open to requests for new commissions for either writing or photography projects or a combination of both. Please contact her at: [email protected]