In the above portrait made on November 17, 2009 she stands with confidence, her hands on her hips. Through the second exposure on the twelfth roll of film she expresses herself so. She looks into the distance and releases a most subtle smile for the lens, for her future audience perhaps. The sky is her background and she stands elevated, above her environment.
Her hair is cut short like many of her friends, and this fascinates me immensely. The line between boy and girl is blurred, and at times the clothing is the only clue as to difference. For me however the gestures matter, the most nuanced tilt of the neck, the manner with which the hands are placed against her body, and the curve of her lips. One can cut her hair short but one cannot remove her identity.
I shall return to her village in 2013 and document the changes. My hope is that she has now joined the government school in her district, mandated since the government put into effect guidelines to enroll every single girl under the age of fourteen in formal education. Her time with Humana People to People India will have hopefully given her the tools to make the transition more easily.
For the older girls who had never received such a chance, we move forward with our plan for a school. Humana People to People India has gracefully entertained the idea of opening such a school in the area to supply an education for girls outside of the official mandate. If this is of interest to the reader, more information can be gathered through the following.
Halim Ina Photography