Sunday, December 20, 2009

Banjara Girl, Alwar District, Rajasthan, India, November 6, 2009

Here she stands, in front of two benches.

Everyone is excited, everyone is running around changing places, looking at the pictures. The other girls are sitting to the right, watching her being photographed. They giggle when she smiles, they laugh when she turns shy.

Here she stands, for at least five minutes while color film is changed for black and white.

The day before, we arrived here and talked to the women, the men were absent. They agreed quickly to being photographed. They still cannot believe even after four years that my work continues to follow them, even when they move. They seem happy.

When we arrived earlier today, the men were present and they quickly disapproved. The women were different this time, reacting surely to the break in momentum. The girls then followed the women, having lost their support. The good people of the foundation lacked a response. Everyone was standing around, lacking an answer.

With some input from me, the team began talking to the people. A little by little, the girls came back, frowns turned to smiles and then smiles turned to laughs.

Here she stands, above it all. She is an example to her people, to my people.

Most recently, the wonderful children of Holy Rosary Montessori School in Cleveland, Ohio raised enough money through Yoga lessons and bake sales to perhaps fund this young girl's school for one year, about $1,200.

As their good and kind teacher Anna put it just tonight in our email conversation:

'I look at your pictures and I think to myself--what do I need? I have so much. My daughters have so much.

They will never have to sweep excrement off of the dirt pathways or prostitute themselves because those are the only jobs available to them. How can I look at those Indian twins and not want them to have the same opportunities as my twins? It is a simple act of geography that their circumstances are so different. When I hear the girls saying that they want to be teachers because they are the people that the children look up to, how can I go to the mall and spend money on stuff when their voices are ringing in my ears? A better investment is in their future than in my closet for sure!

I have read that India is a country where you think with your heart. I am unable to go there to teach them myself, but I will give them every opportunity I can to be educated. And when my daughters are on their way in the world, then I will be able to go and teach in India or other places where there is a need. I am thinking of the children with my heart.'