Romanticizing the killing machine~

romanticizing the killing machine~ ChinaWhen faced with a hot issue in the world like guns and the recent school shooting, it is a good idea to look at the simple facts. What are guns? Why do we have them? How did it all begin?

The simple truth is that they are human fashioned killing machines. That is their sole purpose, a metal object designed to project at strong speed another metal object with the purpose of puncturing the body of another human or animal and to cause injury or death. That simple fact should halt all arguments about having them with children, near children or having them at all.

I listen the news about Syria and all the children that died in the least week to benefit a recent group of arms dealers who benefit each time there is conflict and who thrive from the misery of the less fortunate. They try to romanticize the issue and muddle it so we won’t comprehend, but it is very simple, isn’t it?

Power, greed, wealth and the personal need for self gratification without counting any cost.

Day 55 of 365~

Image taken in a back alley in Shanghai, China

Protecting Innocence~

mindful of their innocence~ Kashgar.jpgThey arrive to this earth relying on our coded ability to host them as they take human form. They are born tiny and helpless and it is up to us to support, care for and nurture them till they can care for themselves. They carry in them the promise and possibility of a better tomorrow. They are our most valuable assets. Why can’t we all put their wellbeing before that of wealth, power and greed?

Day 53 of 365~

Image taken of a child in the old streets of Kashgar, Xinjiang

harsh realities~ Qibao

a life she drifted into~

a life she drifted into~

a rough start at life~

a rough start at life~

In Qibao, and old area of Shanghai, is a neighborhood(if you can call it that) of green lanes. Confronting realities wait there behind each door and in front of some where young women prepare to sell themselves for a living. As much as this practice is as old as civilization itself, it remains heartbreaking to witness people’s daughters going through this to survive. And most painful of all was seeing a little girl forced to grow up in that strange world of green lanes.

 

Life course interrupted~ Syrian refugee

Syrian refugee in North Lebanon

Syrian refugee in North Lebanon

As the west prepares to launch a missile attack on Syria in the coming days, the innocent children find themselves caught in the games of warring adults having no say as to where their life will be taking them next. More than 4000 Syrians are seeking refuge daily in Lebanon, where they make a staggering 35% of the Lebanese population today. A ticking bomb in a fragile zone, heart breaking and unfair in so many ways. If the children are the hope for our future, why are we endangering that chance?

a bucketful of possibilities~ Yunnan

a bucketful of possibilities~ Yunnan

a bucketful of possibilities~ Yunnan

Children, no matter where they were born, under which circumstances, hold the whole promise of a better future. In them are the seeds of what has not yet happened and through them the codes of originality and possibility for human development. They are our greatest asset, let’s treat them with care.

displaced destinies

displaced destinies (a child at a migrant school in Shanghai)

displaced destinies (a child at a migrant school in Shanghai)

Today two good friends and I went for an adventure in a remote Shanghai neighborhood where mostly migrant workers from the provinces live and where their children go to special schools. These are the workers responsible for lifting Shanghai from the ground up to soaring levels with its new high rises and luxury hotels that mushroom at an impressive speed around the jewel of China. The residences are extremely modest and the children struggle to learn as best they can under their current circumstances. On this day the teacher said that they would be celebrating children’s day (normally on June 2nd in China) and strangely enough they pointed out a few of the girls who they consider ‘beautiful’ and explained why they were dressed in party clothes and not the usual school uniform. The declaration of their beauty was done openly in front of all the other students, a concept I found incredibly alien and difficult to understand. “She is the most beautiful girl in the class” the teacher announced loudly, ” and this is why she will be presented on stage today”.

Day 2~ December 2nd~ Guilin

hanging in the balance

hanging in the balance~ mother and child in Yangshuo

Of all the significant issues in the world, nothing strikes as more crucial than that of the future of our children. It is them who will inherit our planet in its current state, and it is they who will have to cope with the changes that are onsetting. How do we handle the very fine balance of preparing them without weighing them down, inspiring them without hiding the reality and training them when we ourselves are not sure what to do?

First love: It is the one that haunts us till the end.

It is always most powerful the first time. The first time we feel our hearts racing and fluttering, the first time we feel our breath shortening and escaping us, the first time we feel that a look can lift us off the ground and the first time we feel haunted day and night with thoughts of our love and with their presence inside of our skin at all moment of our waking and sleeping. It is powerful, passionate, wonderful, unreasonable and it scars us for life.

Egypt, 1996 is where I fell in love with photography. I had just gotten my first Pentax manual camera while living in New York (that is a whole other story), learned the basics very quickly, went to B&H photo when is still was downtown on 18th street and bought 35 rolls of film and slide film. Off I went to Egypt on the most memorable trip of my life. And like a first love this trip still lives in me and beckons me to go back and revisit it. We have to meet again.

We will…

a boy selling trinkets in Egypt, January 1996

girls baking and selling bread near Luxor, Egypt, 1996

When inspired children inspire

Demobilized child soldiers dancing in Goma, October 2009

Before the trip of “by art we live” to the Democratic Republic of Congo, an open line of communication and collaboration was opened with Jody Kennedy who teaches Middle School students in White Plains Public Schools, NY. Ms. Kennedy currently serves as a virtual trainer and consultant with the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration in Cleveland Ohio. She is the founder of the Global Ambassadors program and the Global Run project which is highlighted on the United Nations’ UN WORKS For People and the Planet website. Connecting with over 26 countries, Jody provides a virtual stage for youth to share ideas, art, music, and poetry-she has pioneered live videoconferencing to promote a global, borderless classroom. Jody’s expertise in interactive technology brings young people all over the planet face to face, in real time, to celebrate culture and art and a collaborative vision of humanity.

The Global Ambassadors, who are a very inspired and inspiring group of children, were very moved to launch an Art Drive to raise awareness and raise funds for the purpose of assisting demobilized child soldiers in Congo.

After several video conferences that I was invited to by Ms.Kennedy and the Global Ambassadors, a video was produced as well as a drive to collect art supplies and materials for sending to the Congo.

Quoted from Ms. Kennedy: “These are some examples of what the students who learned about the Congo from you created in order to help teach our community about Child Soldiers! Hannah created the T shirt design,Daniella and Sophia had the idea of selling pencils for $1 to raise funds to buy more art supplies. Daniella created the drawing . Hannah is an accomplished artist for her age. She herself has said that art has taken her through some hard times in life. I think that is why she feels so connected to this project.”

The GLobal Ambassadors' pencil design

What is better than children helping children? So inspiring! Thank you to Jody Kennedy and her Global Ambassadors who are always doing so much. I am so honored to work with you.