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This startup uses photography to empower women around the world

Bonnie Chiu has used photography to express herself for as long as she can remember. But it was a chance encounter with a group of teenage girls in Istanbul, Turkey, that changed the way the 22-year-old looked at the art forever.

Despite speaking different languages, Chiu and the teenagers were able to bond over their fascination with her camera.

"I realized then how photography is a universal language, and can transcend cultural barriers," she tells Mashable.

The exchange made Chiu think about how many women and girls around the world don’t have access to cameras. It prompted her to create Lensational, a social enterprise that uses recycled and donated cameras to organize photography workshops for underserved women, allowing them to capture their world and tell their own stories.

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With zero funds and a dream to create a system that connects marginalized women across the globe, Chiu launched Lensational’s Facebook page on International Women’s Day in 2013.

"I shared a few articles related to International Women’s Day and I uploaded the photos I took of the four Turkish girls, and that’s how the whole thing got started," she says...

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