Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Two Refugees + Wall of Fabric, Muzaffarnagar, India, 2013


As Nirvana and his team move to establish a school in this region, memories of the crisis leading to this very movement come rushing forth. Four years ago I was invited to document the refugee crisis as a result of the Muzaffarnagar Riots of 2013. During our walks my eyes witnessed people doing the work on the ground, donating their land so that those without could begin to rebuild their lives.

We walked around tent where children had nothing more than the clothes on their bodies. The only protection between them and the world was a wall of fabric, and so we decided to make some portraits with the girls behind these walls. We did so in order to show the fragility of their circumstances. For most of us it is nearly impossible to imagine such an existence, especially in light of the fact that these very children were forced out of their villages in a most tragic manner.

Over the years the good people of this community brought to our attention the possibility of a collaboration. While public schools do exist in many of the villages, the quality of the schools are so that most parents refuse to send their children, especially their girls. This holds even more so when it comes to anything higher than primary school, since sending their girls to a secondary school further away is out of the question.

The community does however have incredible faith in their traditional, religious schools. The elders of one village advised that they would of course donate the building and the land, should Nirvanavan Foundation be able to implement a school worthy of their children within these schools. For such to work, a proper curriculum would need to be implemented, which would include the traditional classes as well as the arts, and so forth.

A sincere conversation was had earlier this year as Nirvana made it a point to visit the area personally, and with his team. He also invited the leaders of this community to Rajasthan in order for them to witness the foundation's work in person.

Long story short, the generosity of those here on FB will soon be realized on the ground, as the school begins to take shape over the next few months. My aim is to be there in February to document the changes, and of course to make portraits of the very children benefiting from this collaboration! 


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Note: This image was made with a Hasselblad V system.