Friday, April 16, 2010

Early in the Morning, Student, Humana People to People, Rajasthan, India, November 20, 2009

In a previous posting, this morning is described. It will suffice to note that the morning was most difficult due to a general lack of cooperation from everyone excluding the students. This portrait is an example of a child lacking the support of her community, her teacher. Everyone seems interested in the scene, men standing around having their tea served to them, women unable to do more than stand at a distance for reasons beyond their control, a teacher that seems more interested in the end of the session rather than the substance. The girls are lined up to my right, with a volunteer from Humana writing names down in a notebook. 

The teacher, rather than speaking to the girls before their turns, wears a sullen frown and pushes the girls around, her mannerisms rough and sudden. The girls, before our arrival, had on their own made a few patterns on the floor to welcome our team this morning. One of the patterns can be seen behind this little girl. They were looking forward to this morning and the sadness on their faces is clearly evident. After a few girls, I decide to end the session, feeling it very difficult to make portraits of girls unable to smile, without a single source of support. Confusion takes hold of the people around us. They wonder why the camera is being put away. 

After a few minutes, we agree to continue but only if the teacher goes home. By this time, the sun has risen and we walk around the village in search of another spot. We find it, in the shade of a small courtyard. There we make portraits with smiles, portraits of happiness rather than sadness. This young girl, along with her friends, attend a Humana People to People India school for three years. At the end of these three years, she is to join a government school for the remainder of her education. 

The design of the Humana school is to bridge the distance between illiteracy and formal training. Her attendance at this school is an accomplishment, in light of the local economic reality. While the family loses a helping hand at home or a pair of hands in the field, they gain eyes that can read and hands that can write; a combination that will perhaps one day break the economic chains that prevent her family from making a better world for themselves.

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