Photos from left to right: Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Heather Pieper, Abha Rai, Sarah Warui.

Recipients named for Giving Voice to Voiceless grants

The Giving Voice to the Voiceless Fund, created to support projects that shed light on unattended societal problems and promote social justice and global understanding, has named three 2019 grant recipients and two honorable mention recipients.

Abha Rai, Sarah Warui and a team composed of Laural Hiatt, Heather Pieper and Yolanda Machado will receive money to help launch their projects giving a voice to people who otherwise would not have attention focused on their issues. LaDiamond Lett and Steve Armour also will receive money as honorable mention recipients.

The Giving Voice to the Voiceless Fund is endowed by author and journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault (ABJ ’63) and her husband Ron Gault to support projects created by a range of University of Georgia students by helping those that focus on problems that otherwise go unnoticed yet are vital to people who are affected by them.

“I am thrilled to learn of the first students receiving the first Giving Voice to the Voiceless awards in that they exemplify exactly why we created the fund,” said Hunter-Gault. “Throughout my journalistic career, I have tried to shed light on people who have had to endure in silence problems in their lives through no fault of their own. Now, I am grateful there is a younger generation willing to carry that torch, and Ron and I are so proud of them.”

Rai, a student with a masters in social work and a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Social Work, was selected for her submission, “Giving Voice to South Asian Immigrant Communities: Understanding Domestic Violence.” This project focuses on spreading awareness and demonstrating the difference between domestic violence versus culture in South Asian communities. Interventions will be held in Athens, Georgia; Atlanta and Chicago in partnership with South Asian community-based organizations.

“Once we hear from both men and women, we can create an intervention around awareness,” Rai said.

The UGA team consisting of Hiatt, Pieper and Machado also won for their project, “Undocumented, Unprotected, Unheard: Voices of Athens-Clarke County Immigrants,” surrounding traffic violations such as driving without a license resulting in unfair arrest, jailing and deportation. The team decided to construct a project around the biggest obstacle surrounding the Athens immigrant community after listening to guest speakers in a Spanish Service Learning class.

Using their grant money, they will collect and transcribe interviews, design brochures and create informative postcards for representatives and various legal bodies for the 2018-2019 political campaign.

Pieper, an international affairs and romance language major, said the grant impacts more than just those who directly care about the issue.

“With the funds from the grant, we can reach a much larger portion of the community,” she said.

Warui, a fourth-year international affairs and journalism double-major, proposed her project, “A Day in the Life of Three Athens Families Using a 3D Camera.” Her work explores the lives of five Athens families experiencing diverse neighborhoods through an interactive map.

“My lifelong goal is to elevate under and misrepresented voices through different platforms, so when I heard about this opportunity I jumped at the chance. I am excited to do this on a smaller scale because this is only the beginning of what I want to do for the rest of my life,” Warui said. “I am hoping virtual reality can unearth the stories of the many different individuals living in Athens and prevent the biases and ignorance that may come from outsiders.” 

Date: February 20, 2019
Author:  Madeline Fiorante