This past weekend we spent a few days in the troubled region of Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh. Over the past two years violence has erupted causing tens of thousands of refugees to flee their homes in search of safer ground. Some of these families have settled in villages surrounding Kairana, and one in particular being that of our host for the weekend.
Our last visit in 2013 introduced us to this wonderful family and their good works. Like a few families in the area, they have given their land for the sake of the refugees, and have even built more permanent homes for them in addition to handing over the deeds to the land. Our host for the weekend has even built a school financed completely from his own pocket, and would like to go even further should funds be available to do so.
We were granted access to the children from the village in this safe, serene space. On this day the boys were photographed first with the subtle light of a window, one by one as they took a break from their religious studies. Some knelt facing the window, others facing the camera. Most were wearing white fabrics, some like this young boy a bit darker.
The school is in the middle of a very conservative village, without which we would have never been able to make such portraits. Even my friends here in India were quiet surprised when seeing the images, thinking that such was impossible. What the family has done in just one year has been to change the mindset of those around them, to include the girls in their quest for education and to show that Christians, Hindus and Muslims could work together seamlessly like in the team making this image.
Note: This image was made with a Sony RX100M2, with natural light.