Monday, December 7, 2009

Young Girl, Student, Alwar Slum, Rajasthan, India, October 31, 2009

Today we arrive at an Alwar slum, our fourth visit since 2006. The school holds classes in an open temple, without such luxuries as chairs or libraries or privacy. The children stand to greet us and then take their place on the floor.

We look around and decide on the steps of the temple as the studio. The equipment is arranged, chairs are placed and a reflector is given to two volunteers to experiment with until the children are ready. Our friends from the States have given us presents for the children, so we arrange a chair to the left for the disbursement of the gifts.

One by one, the children sit on the steps and have their portraits made. There are perhaps sixty people in this small space, forty of them children and the rest adults from the slum as well as people from the foundation. A friend from Thailand named Anna sits down in a chair and finds her rhythm in handing out the gifts.

These gifts were made by the students of Holy Rosary Montessori School located in Cleveland, Ohio. A couple of months ago, after seeing and hearing of the children from Nirvanavan Foundation, the students from Holy Rosary along with their teacher Anna decided to make gifts for every girl associated with the foundation, about 350 girls in all. The students looked at some of my photographs and realized that some of the girls had safety pins attached to either their dresses or bracelets. On their own they came up with the idea of placing beads in safety pins as gifts, along with bracelets and necklaces.

The expressions on the girls' faces in the temple as they collect these safety pins today is proof in itself of the intuition of children from across borders and cultures. One after one, they almost jump off of the steps and run to Anna for their gifts; now my photography has competition and nothing could make me happier. To see their faces as they turn to their right and start walking with a smile gives me a perspective never experienced before, absolutely perfect.