Friday, October 28, 2011

Mentally and Physically Challenged, Chamacanga, Western Kenya, 2007



Her home is a small group of buildings resembling a school campus in Western Kenya. She lives with perhaps two dozen children and the caretakers of the facility, religious figures as well as laypeople.

All of the children are inflicted by either physical or mental challenges, often times a combination of both. The people of this wonderful home have taken it upon themselves to speak to the communities around them, gaining access to these vulnerable children. In many instances, the families of these beautiful children keep them from public view, afraid of the social stigma associated with having such children. The caretakers shared stories with me that made me reflect deeply on the human family, and wonder quite a bit about our innate goodness.

In the middle of rural Kenya and with very little other than the buildings in which the children are housed, good people tend to daily chores associated with a most difficult situation. Without access to medical personnel or basic supplies or luxuries such as the internet, they do their best. All of the children have uniforms, and rooms in which to sleep. It feels like a large family, with many of the children treating each other like sisters and brothers.

On a sunny day we make portraits of the entire population within the campus, including all of the children. In a few instances the good staff help children stand still for their portraits, and in a few other instances a wheelchair is provided for support. Some of the children laugh uncontrollably with the joy of the moment, while some take this opportunity to share with me a snapshot of unimaginable difficulty.

From this day forward, I take it upon myself to locate such a school in each country visited by me, and to tell such stories. This is the least one can do, while aspiring to do much more.

As Father Felix of the school tells me in an interview:

'What it means to me having children of this type is that I will look at them as Gods' creatures who need all of the assistance possible to live the life god meant them to live as human beings when he crated them, so that's why we struggle hard to make sure that they are helped positively, physically, mentally and even spiritually... like on Sundays they attend mass, those who can listen they listen a bit and they are just there with the hope that God blesses them as they come because our intention towards them is something very positive.'

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Halim Ina Photography