On Thanksgiving Day of 2008, we make her portrait on the rooftop of the school building. Her expression is represented on the tenth frame of the twelfth roll of film on this spectacular afternoon. We walk around town from one cluster to another, treated to the most beautiful of spirits.
While hardened to the streets from my observations, within their neighborhoods it is an entirely different world. Rather than approach me as a stranger and with the thought of collecting donations, they approach me on this day as a contributor to their schools and offer themselves to my camera.
Children come running from every corner and chaos it seems is the order of the day. However when one child steps up all the rest allow their friend to have a portrait made. Only when time comes for the next person does chaos return. Like waves landing on a beach, there is a rhythm to the process.
With the introduction of Humana People to People to India came the Academy for Working Children. As written by HPPI:
Humana People to People India runs Academy for Working Children. The idea of the program is to provide basic education to the migrant workers children in industrial areas of India. The project responds as well to the child labour issue by providing a chance for the children to pursue education to have a brighter future and teaching the parents to value the children's education.
Their work invigorates me, gives me more reason to follow through with these images. Without asking for anything in return the good people of Humana People to People invite me into their villages. They are just happy that these children get access to someone and something different from their routine.
After six years of documentation it is time to do something more, to perhaps involve myself more so. This is the thrust behind the current movement to locate funding for five schools. I have worked with two other foundations in India and have nothing but respect for them. I look forward to visiting Rajasthan in November of this year and to perhaps seeing these schools filled with children like the young girl above.
For more of my work, and to contribute your thoughts regarding this project, please visit the newly designed website below, courtesy of Patrick Luu.
Halim Ina Photography