After having travelled to faraway places, they become part of you. Their people, the colors, the smells, the feelings and emotions that define each place are always at hand ready to reconnect you to that place in a split second. It is the most amazing thing. And with photography: that connection is instantaneous. A frozen moment like this of 3 girls in a New Delhi slum comes to life and buzzes with feeling when I connect to it once again. And isn’t life a continuous stream of such frozen moments?
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.
Have you ever noticed how children can change expressions so fast without being hung up on the effects of each emotion they experience? We adults tend to carry baggage through our emotions that causes us to often hold grudges, feel anger, thoughts of contempt, attachment, jealousy, animosity… the list goes on. When children fight, they are able to make up in a split second and whilst we are still wondering how to solve the problem they are already hugging and running off to play again.
Don’t you sometimes wish that our children could live in their age of innocence a bit longer? To stay protected from sarcasm a few more years? To remain connected to what created them a little while longer?
The children of the world are the only hope for its future if there is to be one…
They are the ones who will carry on when we stop, who will live after we die, and who will break into the new realms that await the human race after we come close to giving up. If this is the undeniable truth then how come we, as a collective can still allow them to be abused and exploited by the few sick ones among us? I can not imagine a crime bigger than the ones committed against the children of the world.
Imagine having a makeshift hut or a tent for a home, knowing that your home is where your belongings are, it is not a place, it is a moving entity…
Growing up in Lebanon I have always been fascinated by the lives of Bedouins. I watched their children play on dusty roadsides, barefoot, in and around tents, knowing that as the weather got colder, they would pack up and move again. I knew them to have a great honor system and to be extremely hospitable.
We were lucky as children to have a bedouin nanny named “Mahasen” live with us to help take care of my 2 younger brothers. Mahasen used to have very long black hair, a gorgeous figure and she danced with a jug of water on her head in the most elegant way. She spoke a language unknown to us and her arabic was colored with a unique accent that my little brother eventually picked up. Mahasen enchanted us all with her charm, entered our hearts and became part of our home, until the horrible day came when her father took her away from our family by force. I remember driving in our parents car years later in Beirut, Lebanon’s capital and seeing her with her own child on her arms begging for change from the passing cars. We froze, she froze, she ran to our car kissing my little brother and tears were flowing out of everyone. That was the last time I saw Mahasen until I was in Egypt a few years later and I saw her in every Bedouin child’s face, in their deep eyes, in their rags, in their brown skin and in the warmth I felt radiating between us.
We live our lives in chapters and at some point each chapter has to end…
One of the hardest things to do after being charmed by people and after the sharing of a small part of life with them, is the separation. On the trip to Egypt, I had to say good bye so many times to so many beautiful people, it felt like leaving a small piece of me after each departure. It was always the children who left the most remarkable effect on me with their innocence, their playfulness and their natural way of being. Now that I have a child of my own, I feel so blessed to be able to laugh every day, to enjoy the simple things, to view the world through a veil of uncorrupted innocence as children do when I am in her company.
Children are our most precious responsibility, and they deserve out best effort to protect them and help them develop into the leaders of the future. I wonder how good of a job we are doing.
As I got ready to post my final image of the project today, I realized that I missed posting the photo I took on December 16th! So before I end and to keep things tidy, here it is!
Children looking at a graphic skyline, children who hold the future in their little hands, and the little people who will sculpt the future through their own original visions. I wonder what they will build…