Editor’s Note: With #TheInvisibles, Youth Ki Awaaz and Save the Children India have joined hands to advocate for the rights of children in street situations in India. Share your stories of what you learned while interacting with street children, what authorities can do to ensure their rights are met, and how we can together fight child labour. Add a post today!
By Rajen Nair:
It was when I lost my hearing in 2000 and had to wind up my trading business, that I did a professional course in journalism and photography. Today, I am a photojournalist based in Mumbai, and besides teaching photography to deaf children and children battling cancer, I am also a great fan of street photography. Trying to capture something interesting from the seemingly mundane, everyday lives lived on the street is both demanding and inspiring.
My photo stories are often about children living on the streets, or from underserved communities, who live in slums. I didn’t consciously choose to work with those who have come to be labelled as “street children”, but the fact that they are the most vulnerable members in our society and need our attention more than anyone else, is what pushed me in this direction. Over the years, I have interacted with a lot of these children and their families. I often tell the children’s mothers to send them to school, so that when they grow up and work, they can take their parents out of the streets.
I’ve learned that many of these children are physically abused, don’t attend school and are forced to do petty work, or beg. Sometimes, they fall prey to drugs and alcohol addiction, and even crime to survive. I use my camera mainly to highlight this plight of theirs and the injustices they face through my lens. After all, it is our collective responsibility to rehabilitate them, give them good homes, education and skills development. Only if we are all aware of their struggles, we can make a positive difference in their lives and that’s what I try to do.
Youth Ki Awaaz, along with Save The Children, is curating photo stories of India’s invisible children. If you’ve taken a photograph of something that moved you (or disturbed you), share your photo story with us via email (email@example.com), Tweet to us @YouthKiAwaaz, message us on Facebook, or tag us on Instagram. Use hashtags #TheInvisibles and #EveryLastChild. The best photo stories will be published across Youth Ki Awaaz platforms!
Rajen Nair is a freelance photojournalist based in Mumbai, where he also teaches photography to children with disabilities and children battling cancer. You can Tweet to him @rajennair.