COMO Foundation celebrates 15 years of grantmaking through the lens of Leica photographers, Dilla Djalil-Daniel, Ha Phuong Thao and Laxmi Kaul, capturing the purpose, work and impact of our partners.

Sangita Karki with one of the babies she monitors in her role as community health volunteer with One Heart World-Wide. Photograph by Aditya Kaul.

“Being a mother is the hardest job in the world, so I’m proud of what I do to help.”

– Sangita Karki, 42, Dhading, Nepal

Sangita Karki is a community health volunteer in the rural district of Dhading in Nepal. Clad in her signature light blue sari, she goes door-to-door providing basic healthcare services to women and families who would otherwise have none. Amongst the many organisations recognising the vital role of community health volunteers globally are One Heart World-Wide and Living Goods, working in different parts of the world to the same end – to galvanise the power of women to strengthen communities.

Goma Chepang, 20, delivered her three children at a community health post in Dhading, Nepal.
Her potentially life-threatening postpartum complications were addressed by community health workers from One Heart World-Wide. Photograph by Laxmi Kaul.

Since 2003, our grantmaking journey has also led us to appreciate the deep roots that effective organisations develop within communities. Our partners appreciate the nuance and rhythm of culture and tradition, providing access to basic goods and services, opportunities for livelihood sustainability and access to education for women and girls.

Domestic chores can eat into a girl’s education, but Educate Girls works with parents to support their daughters’ right to go to school. Photograph by Laxmi Kaul.

Life in these communities are often defined by limited resources and entrenched cultural norms. That is why we rely on our partners to translate theory to practice, demonstrating the tangible benefits of strengthening women and their role in society.

Mother and daughter in Rajasthan, India, one of the many families working with Educate Girls to send their first girl in the family to school. Photograph by Laxmi Kaul.

“My daughter can write her name. She is the first woman in the family who can write her name.”

-Lata Devi, 34, Rajasthan, India

Educate Girls, for example, deploys volunteers to work personally with girls, parents and schools to keep the at-risk girls in school. Using fun, child-centric learning tools, the girls become confident in English, Hindi and maths, keeping pace with their peers in school.

Women of strength, resilience and determination, in Dhading, Nepal. Photograph by Aditya Kaul.

We have been inspired not only by the stories of impact by our partners, but also the way that women catalyse change within their communities. The resilience, creativity and camaraderie they build in their daily lives multiply when presented with opportunities to grow and learn.

Community Health Volunteers learning how to use a smartphone app developed by Medic Mobile to coordinate patient data in Nepal. Photograph by Medic Mobile.

When mobilised, women are a formidable force for good. The community health workers of Medic Mobile, for example, use mobile apps to coordinate patient care efficiently. They not only provide life-saving services, but also represent a new model of the role that women can play in society.

A Palliative Care Volunteer from Yayasan Rumah Rachel providing home-based palliative care for terminally ill children in Jakarta, Indonesia. Photograph by Dilla Djalil-Daniel.

“When our existence has a meaning for others, it’s the happiest feeling in the world.”

– Milyanti, 47, Jakarta, Indonesia

We see such role models in so many of our partners. In urban Jakarta, Indonesia, nurses and volunteers of Yayasan Rumah Rachel represent female expertise and strength as they help their patients live their last days as well as possible.

A mother-daughter team cultivating vegetables in Phu Xuyen, Vietnam. The mother oversees production while the daughter is in charge of logistics. Thriive enabled the purchase of a delivery truck, cutting delivery costs by 50 per cent. Photograph by Ha Phuong Thao.

“My mother is my inspiration. She plays a decisive role in our business, and everyone wants to work with us because of it.”

– Nguyen Thi Mai, 38, Phu Xuyen, Vietnam

Other partners have encouraged the entrepreneurial drive of women to create opportunity for others in the community. Thriive, for example, supports women-led micro-enterprises in Cambodia, Guatemala, Kenya, Nicaragua, Palestine and Vietnam through loans for business growth. Uniquely, the loans are “paid forward” with contributions of job training, services and goods to the most vulnerable members of their communities. In this way, local businesses immediately benefit their communities through social investment and outreach, while creating new jobs through business expansion and increasing employment prospects for their trainees.

Co-founder of Little Sisters Fund Usha Acharya (in orange sari) with some of the alumnae of Little Sisters Fund, who now serve as mentors to young girls currently in school across Nepal. Photograph by Laxmi Kaul.

“She is one of my greatest role models. I really want to be like her
– she’s superwoman.”

– Anima Bhattari, 29, Teacher and graduate of Little Sisters Fund, of co-founder Usha Acharya, 70

Culturally-sensitive and holistic efforts creates sustainable impact for generations. Over the last two decades, Little Sisters Fund’s has enabled over 2,600 girls to gain an education, reducing their risk of child labour, early marriages and trafficking. The girls, who regularly outperform national averages in national examinations, have more than transformed their own lives with higher education and purposeful careers. Many have chosen to give back to society as role models, teachers and nurses.

Global Press journalists from Kashmir, India. Photograph by Global Press Institute.

As mother and daughter, wife and sister, a woman’s unique perspective is itself valuable. Global Press Institute taps on this strength by training women with only basic literacy to become professional, ethical journalists. Their stories bring balance and context to global issues. Syndicated across a network of 180 news agencies, including NPR, BBC and The Guardian, their stories are read by some 20 million people each month. With the income earned through their reporting, over 70 per cent of Global Press journalists are now the primary breadwinner in their families.

Women do not shy away from tough work. Kim Duc, the co-founder of Think Playground,
a Thriive-supported business, constructing playground equipment for children in Hanoi.
Photograph by Ha Phuong Thao.

Despite significant progress over the last 15 years, there is still much to be done. Goal 5 of the Sustainable Development Goals calls for gender equality not only as a basic human right, but also as a critical factor in accelerating sustainable development. At COMO Foundation, we are grateful for the opportunity to have partnered with over 57 organisations working to this shared goal. They, and the communities they serve, are our reason for being.

Simron is studying with the support of Little Sisters Fund in Kathmandu, Nepal,
and wants to be a doctor when she grows up. Photograph by Laxmi Kaul.


Dilla Djalil-Daniel

Dilla Djalil-Daniel has been taking photographs all her life. She has published a photography book a Trunk and other Tails and her work has been published in various publications as well as exhibited in China, Indonesia and Finland. Based in Jakarta, Dilla is an accomplished photographer with a determined commitment to the documentary and photojournalism approach.

Dilla Djalil-Daniel

Ha Phuong Thao

Ha Phuong Thao is the CEO of Nha Trang Bay Investment and Construction JSC. She has been an avid photographer since 2009. Based in Vietnam, she enjoys documenting everyday moments. Portraiture is an important aspect of her photography.


Ha Phuong Thao

Laxmi Kaul

Laxmi Kaul regards photography as a quest to capture emotion in a moment, naturally and as if telling a very human story. A professional photographer, she holds emotional and environmental portraitures and documentary photography closest to her heart. Her photographs have been showcased in various publications and she has held two exhibitions in Singapore.

Laxmi Kaul