This was my first trip to India. It is safe to say this place has left an indelible impression in my mind. The imprint the culture and people left was one of amazement and awe but nothing was more powerful then the memory of the children of I-India.
I landed in Jaipur, Rajasthan named the pink city due to all the pink stoned palaces and buildings and immediately my senses were overwhelmed by the smell, copious noise and stunning visions. Not surprisingly the camera came out as soon as my feet touched the ground.
I spent the first two days walking around the city with my lovely chaperones, Balou and Shiv from I-India, documenting everything and anything that caught my eye. I was in a state of sensory overload! A reportage /documentary style of photography rapidly ensued.
The palaces were overwhelmingly stunning and an architectural dream to photograph. The streets were lined with color and activity with people going about their day to day business. Life appeared very basic and functional – no shiny glossy shop fronts or expensive goods. It was like stepping back in time 80 years!
I was initially anxious about visiting the centres and shelter homes, concerned I would me met by a sense of sadness, despair and resignation. However much to my astonishment, when I arrived at Jhag after a long and winding trip down a dirt track, what I witnessed was the complete opposite – happiness, excitement, pride and hope were the order of the day. These kids have come from nothing and still have nothing in terms of materialistic wealth and yet I-India has given them something far more powerful and rewarding – hope and confidence for the future. These kids want to succeed and have a better life and be able to support their own families.
I ran a photography Workshop for the lovely girls of Ladhi– it was the most rewarding experience for me professionally. I am so grateful to the lovely people who donated the cameras for the girls at Ladhi. You can see the photos the girls took on our FB page – www.facebook.com/littleonesphotography. Watching the girls walking around with their new gifts and taking photographs was a beautiful moment for me. To be able to spend time and show them how to make a good photograph and put a smile on their faces was inspiring but also so humbling. Many of these girls were abandoned and abused from a young age and the shelter home gives them care and comfort to recover and rebuild, allowing them to be children again.
The centre at Jhag is literally a lifeline, a new start for these children. Generous donations have allowed them to attend school every day, eat a meal once a day, have access to medical care but most of all, to be safe and cared for. I was greeted with many hugs whilst I was at the centre from children as young as 5 up to 14 – With no parents around to shower them with love it breaks your heart. These little faces will stay in my heart forever.
I visited rural villages and was accepted and welcomed into families homes to catch a glimpse of what life is like for many people in Jaipur. Many survive on less than a $1 per day to feed the whole family.
Here school is a luxury, which many will not see. I met a 12 year old boy looking after four little babies. They lived in a open field with no electricity, water or proper shelter .He would not have a chance to go to school as he is needed to look after the other children whilst the parents work.
The Girls and Boys are taught both life and vocational skills like sewing and block printing. The products they make are beautiful and are available to buy in Singapore. Picnic rugs, tablecloths, jewelry and other gift ranges are just a few examples of the extensive product range. 100% of the funds go straight back to I India
I couldn’t help thinking about the extreme contrast with the privileged life myself and my children enjoy in Singapore. Each and every one of us could make a difference to a child’s life by donating to I-India.
I-India gives hope and support to these children and a chance to have a life outside of poverty, abuse and neglect. I believe this should be the basic right of every child on this planet. Everyone can do something to help however big or small, they key is just to do something to support this amazing charity.
None of this trip would have been possible without the friendship and support of Ashu and the founders Prabhakar and Abha. They all welcomed me to India and made me feel part of this wonderful team.
So was India dirty, smelly, loud, busy? Yes, it was but did it possess a
spiritual calm and happiness at the same time .This is what inspired and surprised me on reflection of my time spent in India.
We have a range of prints and postcards available for sale in the studio and through Street Child Project another great way to support the children.