Saturday, March 13, 2010

Kids With Cameras

1.2 million prostituted children are believed to be currently enslaved throughout India, that's roughly the entire population of Dallas - Indian Government statistic, 2009

Born into Brothels is a documentary that follows the lives of several unforgettable children who live in the red light district of Calcutta, where their mothers are part of the over 10,000 women and girls who live and work as prostitutes. In the documentary, Zana Briski, a New York-based photographer, gives each of the children a camera and teaches them to look at the world with new eyes.

Her program, called Kids with Cameras was based on the belief that photography was an effective tool for igniting children's imagination and building self-esteem. The children's photographs were seen around the world and sold, allowing many to go to school and leave the brothels behind.
Kids with Cameras has supported the education of several children from the original photography workshop. One of the children completed his secondary schooling in Utah and is now studying film at NYU Tisch School for the Arts. Another arrived in the USA one year ago to finish her secondary schooling and expects to graduate from a private boarding school in 2011. Many of the other children are excelling in private schools in India.

I watched the documentary when it first came out in 2005 and it had a lasting impression on me -- how terrible and beautiful life could be for children trapped in situation beyond their control. It went onto to win a well deserved academy award that year. Kids with Cameras believes that education provides a way for children to leave the red-light district ad are currently raising funds to develop Hope House, a safe haven specifically for the children of prostitutes to provide an opportunity for them to learn, thrive and lead future generations.

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