Inspired to make a bit of a difference

On Impact Journalism Day last year, The Straits Times ran a story on affordable adjustable spectacles that were distributed to poor villagers who could not afford a pair.

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A woman in Singapore who read it showed it to her husband, who works at a multinational lens manufacturer.

The result: his company is now working with the inventors on a project in India to take the spectacles to many more people.

That's the kind of impact newspapers around the world aim to achieve - not just leaving an impression on our readers, but also inspiring them to do something in response, to make a difference.

Last year, 22 newspapers took part in the first Impact Journalism Day, a global effort to feature inspiring stories of people and ideas that might change the world. This year, there are about 40, and we hope to make an even greater impact.

What makes this year's selection of stories even more special is that most of them were sourced from ideas from the readers of these newspapers - including you.

Earlier, we asked Straits Times readers to submit proposals on people who had or are making an impact on the world around them. We received scores of responses. Of these, we picked three about Singapore-based people and organisations who are doing their part to make the world a better place.

One is the Mothers of Light, a group of women who sell solar lamps to light up Indonesian villages; another is Aidha, a group that trains domestic workers to set up their own businesses back home; and the third is Billion Bricks, an enterprise set up by a man looking out for the homeless in India and beyond.

The aim of Impact Journalism Day is not only to celebrate those who have done their bit to improve the lives of people in their communities. We also hope to inspire you to take up some of these ideas, adapt them to Singapore, or to come up with your own initiatives to help others around you.

As you will see in many of the stories in this special section, the people behind these ideas are always looking to scale them up, and to have others replicate them elsewhere. An idea shared is an idea multiplied.

So we hope you will read on, be inspired, and make an impact of your own.