Do You Read The Humans of New York ? #WATWB

Humans of New York on FacebookNews stories take different forms.  We are the World Blogfest (#WATWB) focuses on positive news stories no matter where they’re found. It is all about spreading peace and humanity on social media.

The news features I want to discuss on this 18th edition of WATWB are on Facebook: Humans of New York in particular.

For those of you not on Facebook, you can read about this page here.

Humans of New York on FacebookEssentially it is a Facebook page by a very good photographer: portraits of everyday people in New York, and a few lines in the voice of the subject of the photograph. Only it is no longer that any more.

Humans of New York, or HONY has become a force for good: its creator Brandon Stanton has travelled the world, brought us stories from various countries all the way from Pakistan to Sudan and Philippines. He’s raised funds for schools in the United states and Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

I’ve been a follower of this page for years, but the recent series on the genocide in Rwanda has shaken me up. The stories are horrific to read, but in the spirit of WATWB, in darkness be the light, I think they need to be read–the stories of barabaric cruelty of one group of humans towards another. It is not easy reading, but it is necessary reading. Here’s one. Read all 9 parts–it is a harrowing, but good use of your time. Trigger warning: Don’t read it if you’re having a bad day.

These are stories of violence, its inception and its progress, of heroes and villains that far outstrip any in fiction, and forgiveness of a scale scarcely imaginable.

If humanity has to learn not to repeat another genocide, it is important we take lessons from this one.

Have you ever read the posts at humans of New York on Facebook or the genocide in Rwanda? What stories of violence and forgiveness have you read before?


This post was the 18th installment of the monthly We Are the World Blogfest: I’d like to invite you to join, if you haven’t as yet, to post Fvourite Placethe last Friday of each month a snippet of positive news that shows our essential, beautiful humanity.

The co-hosts for this month are: Shilpa GargBelinda Witzenhausen, Sylvia Stein, Simon Falk, and Andrea Michaels.

This monthly event has brought smiles on the faces of a lot of participants and their audiences, and somewhat restored their faith in humanity. Here’s a sampler. Click here to know more. Sign up here and add your bit of cheer to the world on the next installment of November 30, 2018!


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38 comments

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  1. Parul Thakur

    I follow Brandon’s work. I read most of the stories he shares. It’s just so sad and I also wonder how can people forgive. It’s not easy and close to impossible. When humans are pitted against each other, how can we think anything about forgiveness. Thank you for sharing and leading WATWB. It’s a beautiful initiative. Every time I am reading a story, I think of so many stories I read. I need to make up my mind and share every month.

  2. Kalpana

    Hi Damyanti – I’ve enjoyed the humans of New York series as well as all the others. I have of course read about the genocide in Rwanda. I will read your link slowly because you’ve said its hard to read and I’ve been having not only a bad day but a bad month. Thank you for sharing.

  3. ianscyberspace

    I’ve heard harrowing tales of people fleeing to churches in the hope that such an environment would offer them protection only to find that fellow citizens they worshiped with guided criminals to each church and they watched as their fellow church members were systematically hacked to death. Lest we criticize these people as the only ones to have indulged in barbaric acts we need to listen in to the kind of rhetoric being offered in so called enlightened societies that encourage violence against their fellow citizens and others today.

  4. bikerchick57

    Thanks for steering me to HONY, Damyanti, and shining a light on the good it has done. I started reading the Rwanda genocide posts. It makes my heart heavy that there are such cruel, sadistic people in the world. I often wonder how this happens, how someone is filled with such hate that they will commit these vile acts. It’s a hate I will never understand.

    • Damyanti Biswas

      You’re welcome, Mary.

      The usual stories are uplifting, humourous, inspiring.

      But these Rwandan genocide posts have been heartbreaking. I’ve cried gallons the past weeks, reading these posts.

  5. ccyager

    I’ve read HONY posts occasionally but haven’t been following it. I love the photos. Definitely will take another look. Thanks for suggesting that maybe we all need to face the darkness and know what it is in order to be the light.

    • Damyanti Biswas

      Cinda, HONY is totally with following. I support the page—much good has come of it.

  6. Alana Mautone (@RamblinGarden)

    I have followed HONY on Facebook for a couple of years and have read one of his collection books (the first one, I believe). I love how he has evolved over the years and knows just how to tell a story. I do not know any Rwandan genocide victims personally but I did grow up with children who were parented by survivors of the European holocaust of World War II, including both parents of my best friend. Many times, these victims do not talk at all about what they went through until much later in life, and hold incredible suffering inside of them.

    • Damyanti Biswas

      Alana, so happy to meet another HONY follower!

      I can’t imagine what surviving a genocide is like. Surviving any kind of menace is traumatic enough—how do you survive something so all-encompassing?

  7. Shirley Corder

    Thank you for making us aware of this site. I personally know a couple of Rwanda survivors and their emotional scars are huge.

    • Damyanti Biswas

      I cannot imagine what Rwandan survivors carry within them.

      Pls check out HONY. Absolutely worth following the page.

  8. Shilpa Garg

    I read HONY every now and then and it’s so wonderful to read about such amazing, moving, beautiful and inspiring experiences and stories. Will check about the genocide in Rwanda. Thanks for sharing!

    • Damyanti Biswas

      Shilpa, do it when you’re at a strong place.

      I started reading the Rwanda series right after my Grandma’s funeral, and it wasn’t the best decision.

  9. hilarymb

    Hi Damyanti – he has done much … yet he questions things – perhaps he should be a Mandela … and question why he needs to alter the constitution to keep him in power. But thanks for the introduction to Humans of New York – an excellent site to be aware of … all the best to you – Hilary

    • Damyanti Biswas

      Yes, Kigame has many sides to him. I put a screenshot of his voice simply because it was the most PG 13.

      The other stories have descriptions of violence so inhuman that they turn the stomach and break the heart—this blog is usually a place of peace and sanctuary.

      Maybe though, in our world increasingly divided by hatred, we should spread such stories, and tell them to our children. Genocide does not happen in a day—those with knowledge can stop the carnage even before it begins, by recognising the symptoms.

  10. Peter Nena

    “Why are you asking us to forgive?” This question. I have asked it myself. It comes from a deep, dark, agonizing place inside. If you can find peace there, you will be the blessed one. Forgiveness heals. Thank you, Damyanti. I will visit the HONY page.

    • Damyanti Biswas

      Oh yes, it does. I know now that when I forgive someone it heals me more than it heals the other person.

      But these acts are beyond what my tiny head or heart can handle, and a thing like forgiving those who raped me or murdered my entire family and community—that’s beyond my imagination.

  11. Sherrey Meyer

    Like my friend, Susan Scott, I remember reading the news of the genocide, the hutus and tutsis. The children ordered to kill their own families and others atrocities. It seems Susan and I follow a similar path, as I haven’t read the HONY series either. I appreciate you bringing this post to us today so that we can become better informed individuals and learn more about what is going on in the world around us.

    • Damyanti Biswas

      Sherry, I’m glad I was able to bring HONY to you. I started following the page when it was limited to New York. Sometimes, I spend hours on the page, just scrolling through faces and stories.

      It is a stupendous resource for all those who want to understand humanity in all the colours of the spectrum.

  12. Susan Scott

    I remember the genocide Damyanti – the hutus and tutsis … child soldiers having to kill their families and such atrocities. I haven’t read the HONY series but will at some stage thanks for providing the links. Kigame is to be praised for ending the genocide as is Brandon Stanton for all the good work he’s doing, bring relief to ravaged people ..

    • Damyanti Biswas

      I’ve only read about the genocide from the periphery and I’m aware more genocides are going on in the world right now: in Yemen, in Myanmar.

      I try and donate and do what I can, but if anything, the stories have taught me the impact of little kindnesses. They didn’t stop a genocide, but they redeemed humanity. They balanced inconceivable evil out with incredible good.

      This series will stay with me a long, long time.

      Kigame is a politician, but Brandon, I feel he’s as close to a true humanitarian as I’ve ever seen. I’ll never meet him, but he’ll always be a light for me in dark places.