Making life a little better for people all over the world

Another day, another terror alert or dastardly attack. More deaths and casualties. Fires, earthquakes and other unexpected natural disasters hit. Political players continue to slug it out, heedless of the consequences to all around.

It can all get so downbeat, depressing, and dispiriting.

Yet, behind the scenes and away from the headlines, many continue to plug away to find practical solutions to real-life problems. Some do so in the desire to change the world. Others hope to just make things a little better for those around them. For some, the quest is to find a better way of doing things so as to improve the lives of all.

These efforts, alas, often get forgotten in the hurly-burly of daily news coverage. But they are no less worthy of attention - and support.

Indeed, in a world where old certainties are being shaken by waves of disruption in just about every field, and when recent political events have sent shock waves round the world, all the more we should pause to celebrate the unrelenting efforts of those who seek to make the world just a little more sane, sound or sustainable.

This the raison d'etre of Impact Journalism Day.

It is why The Straits Times, for the fifth year running, is joining leading newspapers from around the world today to publish a special supplement on 50 ideas, people and projects that might just change the world.

Our friends from Spark News, a social enterprise with a mission to promote initiatives that have a positive impact in addressing global challenges, have brought together 50 news organisations from 40 countries, with a combined reach of 120 million, for this year's effort.

These include Le Figaro in France, El Pais in Spain, The Asahi Shimbun in Japan, Politiken in Denmark, Kompas in Indonesia, the Hindu in India, USA Today in the United States, among others, each of which will publish a curated collection of stories from all partners in the project in their newspaper and website, today. Each media organisation will thus produce a unique Impact Journalism Day special, based on the collaborative efforts of journalists around the world.

From us in The Straits Times, we have offered features on home-grown non-profit groups like New Vision, which has helped nearly 20,000 people in Indonesia with cataracts improve their vision through surgery by volunteer doctors. We have also profiled billionBricks, another Singapore-based non-profit, that provides weatherproof tents which can be set up quickly and relatively cheaply to help those who have lost their homes through poverty or natural disasters.

By doing so, we hope to celebrate these Singaporean efforts and showcase their good work to the rest of the world. Hopefully, this will help them gain wider recognition and support.

Many readers have told us that they have found previous editions of this annual special moving and inspiring, prompting them to pitch in, with time, effort or funds, to try to make an impact in their own ways too. We hope this year's Impact special will do the same.

Do also check out our weekly Community and Causes pages, which appear in our Home section every Thursday, for more features on people who are doing their part to make an impact in the world around them.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 24, 2017, with the headline 'Making life a little better for people all over the world'. Print Edition | Subscribe