Friday, April 29, 2016

Help us build a nursery school for some of the poorest kids in The Gambia
Good Causes Good Karma is filming a documentary for the students of Ceesay Nursery School in Serrekunda in The Gambia in West Africa.  The focus is on this school in particular as the students there have never really had their own "school" as such. Their headteacher Mr Bakery Ceesay has been teaching the poorest kids in the community for about 16 years.  He started his school as a way of providing free education to the children in his community who couldn't afford school fees.  He's been kicked out of building after building -- especially when the charity has managed to scrape together money to carry out modest improvements for the students. So the aim of this project is to build a new school that the students can't be kicked out again.  We aim to raise an additional £10,000 by April 2017 to begin construction on the school.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Leaving a legacy - the story of Sally Russell's calendar

Good Causes Good Karma filmed its first ever video in support of South East Cancer Help Centre in Purley.  Please check out the video below to watch the moving story of how Sally Russell's 2016 calendar came about.  And click the link below to buy the calendar and support the incredible work the centre does for cancer patients (all with no government funding).  Buy Sally's 2016 calendar here.

The story behind Sally's calendar - South East Cancer Help Centre from Good Causes Good Karma on Vimeo.

Monday, September 14, 2015

A shout out for volunteers

A quick shout out for help in London on two projects, the launch of a new calendar at South East Cancer Support Centre on Thursday October 1st and also some filming with a troupe of dancers with disabilities who perform alongside their more able-bodied siblings which is on Tuesday November 24. We're also really in need of some good Android and iPhone app developers with some time to spare. If you're around those days to volunteer in London get in touch on What's App. 07850 172 206. James And here's a short video I put together on Vimeo.
Collaborating for from Good Causes Good Karma on Vimeo.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

A striking image & the tweet that changed a refugee's life forever

History is replete with examples of how a single image that captures just the right moment in time, an expression, an emotion that speaks to us all, has the capacity to reach the hearts of millions.  From the Pulitzer prize-winning photograph of a 9-year-old Kim PhĂșc fleeing a napalm bomb in South Vietnam, which almost single-handedly changed U.S. public sentiment and the course of the Vietname War forever, to the photograph of a lone Chinese protester on the broad expanse of Tiananmen Square, a symbol of defiance in the face of oppression as he stood in the pathway of the People's Liberation Army's tanks.  Nothing transforms apathy into action more than the profound internal change that takes place when we succeed at taking on another's suffering as our own.

June 8, 1972: Kim PhĂșc, center left, running down a road nude near Trang Bang after a South Vietnamese Air Force napalm attack. Photo: Nick Ut /AP

'Tank Man' temporarily stops the advance of a column of tanks on June 5, 1989, in Beijing, in what is widely considered one of the iconic images of the 20th century. Photo: Jeff Widener, Associated Press.

This week's image of a desperate Syrian refugee cradling his young daughter,  whilst attempting to eke out a meagre existence selling pens on the streets of Beirut, was by no means the most powerful photograph to emerge from the Syrian War.  Indeed the conflict is now  the largest humanitarian disaster since the Second World War, the images of its horrors almost a daily occurrence broadcast on news networks across the word.  However, thanks to the savvy social media skills of Norwegian activist and founder of Concflict News, Gissur Simonarson,  a photograph of Abdul Attar Halim Attar and four year old Reem, has led to over £100,000 in donations.
Today I put together a report with Sky News' Siobhan Robbins on just how the photograph reached the smartphones and computer screens of so many people across the world

Southern hairy-nosed wombat rescue in Australia

Wombat Awareness is run by Brigitte Stevens and Biologist Clare Jans, who have dedicated their lives to the protection of the Southern Hairy-nosed wombats. Whilst running the sanctuary for injured and orphaned wombats they are also one of the few voices advocating for the protection of the species against farmers and governmental indifference.

Wombat Awareness from Paul Blackmore on Vimeo.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Noah's bark - helping rescue dogs in Melbourne

 Samurai AV Photography
Photo:  Samurai AV Photography
I love to take photos. Sunsets, family... my food, but the best thing to photograph is the image of a dog. When I was travelling in Vietnam there were so many street dogs. They don't have the same expression as a suburban dog in Australia. They walk freely, they are not overly excited, they don't seem very interested in humans and you can really tell they have experienced a different life. My own dogs Gumpy and Mini are fantastic to photograph, I can use a tennis ball to control their emotions, eye line and make them jump, lay down or turn away. Rescue dogs though, they are in a different category. You can see the pain in their eyes, a glimpse into their history and you can really capture the appreciation that they have for being given a second chance of life.
In early 2014 I started volunteering as a photographer with Noah's Bark, a dog rescue organisation run purely by volunteers. Matt and Caroline, two amazing people that go above and beyond for dog rescue, incorporated Noah's Bark in June 2013. Since then they have given over 160 dogs a new forever home, or as they call it in the dog rescue world, a FURever home.
 Samurai AV Photography

Photo:  Samurai AV Photography
In January this year we had our first “studio” shoot. Petey, Mitchell and Portia rush in to my warehouse. Matt is holding tightly to their leads and trying to find a leg of a couch to tie them to. My two dogs who are out the back are barking furiously wondering who these invaders are, unable to see but can smell the three furballs in their space. I lay a black drape over a big crash mat and direct the lights towards the makeshift studio. First up Petey. The little little Maltese cross's white fur has already covered the black drape, even though he had been brushed 3 times before arriving. Next was Mitchell, another white maltese mix but this one more fluffy. Both dogs super friendly, energetic and just wanting to love.  Last but not least was Portia, a very elegant german shepherd mix. With a few hand gestures (since she is deaf) she climbs up onto the mat and lays down, with big pants you can catch a glimpse of her worn down teeth, droopy face and her floppy lips. You can tell there is something special about her. She is an old dog.

I asked Caroline if she had a favorite dog that she has rehomed “They're all special to me, but there are old dogs that come to be rescued at 15 or 16 years old like Portia. When they are homed, that is the special moment for us and that makes them the special dog”

“When you find amazing people that are up for giving all their love and putting the dogs lives first, that just is the best”

In 2004 when I was working fora local radio station as a broadcast technician, there was a very memorable day when we were pulling out the old studios. On my way to the station I found a lost dog on the street. He was awesome. He had no problem with getting into my car and coming to the station. Everyone fell in love with him. Many people that day said if his owner wasn't found they would definitely adopt him. Since we were pulling out the electrical cabling at the time, we named him Sparky. It being a Sunday I couldn't get Sparky to a shelter so he had to spend the night with me. I wasn't complaining.

I took him to a council funded shelter the next day and told them “if he doesn't find his home please give me a call, I have plenty of interested people”. I called them 2 weeks later (when he was due for adoption if not homed) only to find he had been put down. I was not impressed with their reasoning at all. I felt horrible for Sparky. That sadness hasn't left me.

Luckily these days for dogs like Sparky, organisations like Noah's Bark are fighting the good fight and working with councils and breeders to foster and rehome dogs to give them a second chance at life. It is such a pleasure to do this volunteer work, I get so excited when they call to say they have some more dogs to photograph. How could I complain about going around to a fellow dog lover's house, talk about dogs and get to play with so many different breeds and personalities of human's best friend? There are around 40 volunteers working with Noah's Bark, from foster carers, groomers, transporting, fundraising and on the committee. If you are interested in helping out with volunteering, donating (financially or even collars and leads), fostering or especially adopting please go to 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

As the world gets smaller, giving gets that much easier

After a bit of a rough 12 months in what I should really consider to be a fortunate life, I've found myself thinking more and more about the nature of the mind and the nature of happiness.  I was listening to a podcast the other day from a Nepalese monk called Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche, who said that cause of happiness is virtue – and that virtue is action motivated by non-anger, non-attachment (non-attachment comes from knowing that essentially everything in the world is interconnected and nothing is truly separate) and non ignorance (an understanding of who we really are).  Using that as my springboard I've decided essentially to stop using my money to buy things for myself -- apart from the things I need to function in my life and to educate myself further -- but essentially to cut out as many of the more extravagant things as I can.  I was curious to see if I'd end up feeling happier if I just started giving the money that I'd normally spend on luxuries for myself, to the causes I felt most passionate about.  Today while I was sitting eating my breakfast I stumbled upon a new type of charity that I hadn't seen before.  It essentially allows you to read about a person or project in need of funding and to give to them directly -- in much the same way you'd sponsor a friend or colleague doing a marathon or undertaking a challenge for charity.  So I took out my bank card and instead of wandering down to the shopping centre to pick up a few new t-shirts, I decided to just make do with the ones I already had and to donate.  I ended up stumbling on a student from Kenya who needed an extra $50 to get to his target of $250 to pay for his tuition, school supplies and textbooks. Perhaps this form of giving is only marginally different to that of organisations such as World Vision, where you sponsor a child.  But with the way in which technology has advanced -- where we can rapidly send money across the globe with the tap of a few buttons on our phones -- the immediacy and connection I felt with the person I was helping really personalised the experience.  It made me care more about helping -- and I think that's the key when it comes to encouraging people to give up some of what they've earned. 

Living in the United Kingdom and witnessing the waves of refugees risking their lives to flee the conflict and poverty across Africa, has really allowed me to consider the words of  Lama Zopa Rinpoche in a new light.  While the spiritual interconnectedness that Lama Zopa Rinpoche spoke of may be harder to discern, the effects of ignoring interconnectedness in a real-life context are becoming patently clear.  In failing to help those who are most at need, we have created a humanitarian crisis that is now quite literally lapping the borders of our country.  Entire families piling into boats, scaling barbed-wire fences and scrambling into lorries, just to get to a country where they can live in safety, without fear of being attacked or killed.  

The solution to helping those desperately in need lies in learning to care about other people more than we care about ourselves. The surprising by-product of such a life philosophy is that we actually end up being happier people, and begin to experience joy on levels we never thought possible.  So after 12 months of anxiety and feeling sorry for myself, I've discovered a strange and quite profound peace in letting go of my obsession with myself, and instead started to focus my energy on the people I am in a position to help.  If I can encourage even a handful of people to think about giving some of what they earn as a priority, and not just an afterthought, then this blog will have achieved its purpose.