Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Mentally Challenged, Western Kenya, 2007

We arrive so early in the morning that the girls and boys of this home are still asleep. As we walk closer, we notice movement inside, all seem to be dressing for the session. We set up behind the home in open view of the children of a public school. We are an attraction until they are called in for classes. The number of children in this home is small and so the task at hand quite attainable without moving quickly. 

The children arrange themselves with the help of the wonderful staff, take their turn to stand for their portraits. The one above represents a moment in waiting for someone else. The young girl on the right finds it very difficult to stand alone for her portrait. Her friend to her right holds her hand and calms her enough to take her turn. They stand in unison for five exposures. These children are mentally challenged individuals. Many of them come from families that find it nearly impossible to provide the special attention necessary for their care. 

The caretaker of this home describes certain children and their environment before their placement in this home, with a few of the children being locked in a room or tied down to a tree. Many of these children were hidden within the homes in order to keep them from the view of the neighbors. After the photography, the girls show their skills by singing songs, by collaborating on poems. We leave knowing that they are in wonderful hands.

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