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May 8, 2007

Memory Project

Posted by Kevin D. Hendricks | Filed under: Featured Nonprofit

Memory ProjectStarted by a college student in 2004, the Memory Project offers orphans hope by connecting them with high school art students who paint their portraits. The project gives art teachers pictures of the orphans and teachers then assign their students to paint portraits. The finished works of art are then delivered to the orphans, giving them something to cherish and remind them of their childhood.

"They share everything, so they don't have much they can call their very own," Jayden Kirn, a director of an orphanage in Nicaragua, told CBS News in the midst of the excitement of the portraits being delivered. "I think it will touch them profoundly once they get down and get a private moment to sit and look at that picture."

Ben Schumaker founded Memory Project after a trip to a Guatemalan orphanage when he felt compelled to do something but didn't know what.

"Then a Guatemalan man who had grown up in an orphanage stopped by and told me how much he wished he had something to help him remember his earliest years," Schumaker told the Duluth News Tribune. "He didn't have any photographs of himself as a child or any parents to tell him what he was like. I've always enjoyed making portraits of people, so the idea came naturally."

So far Memory Project has handed out more than 4,000 portraits to orphans around the world and started a book project for students of all ages. (links via Foursquare NextGen Summit '07)

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