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© Ton Hendriks 2010
Coming to a book, exhibition and website
I want to make an informative, interesting, beautiful, uncompromising and compelling PHOTOBOOK concerning the street children from the world. A PR book for the children worldwide that have no means to tell their lives.
Together with this book comes a touring exhibition with an extract of the book prints. The exhibition will tour through the major European cities. Adjacent a website will be launched (www. Globalstreetchild.org). Both the book and the touring exhibition will be launched in the same period as to ask attention to the topic in the most efficient way.
The aim of the book (and connected exhibition) is to make the European citizens aware of the fact that still millions of children worldwide have to live in the streets, mainly in undeveloped countries but also in modern countries.
The street child phenomenon is an alarming and escalating worldwide problem. Street children are maltreated, imprisoned and, in some countries, killed. Street children, as the offspring of complex contemporary urban environments, represent one of our most serious global challenges.
The phenomenon of street children represents one of humanity's most complex and serious challenges. No country and virtually no city anywhere in the world today is without the presence of street children. Both developed and developing countries face a broad spectrum of problems posed by these children, yet few steps have been taken to address the issue.
The following causes of the phenomenon of street children have been found worldwide.
The dramatic increase in the number of street children has been linked to societal stress associated with rapid industrialization and urbanization. Conversely, in industrialized countries, inner-city decay and chronic unemployment accompanying economic downturns are held responsible. In agricultural societies, drought and famine may be to blame.
In circumstances where there is family pathology, such as alcoholism, child abuse (physical or sexual), or neglect, children are motivated to leave home, or may even be driven out. Other reasons for turning to the streets include overcrowding, social disruption caused by frequent relocation (migrant labor), as well as parent-child friction in reconstituted families. Contrary to popular belief, only a small percentage of street children have been orphaned.
Poverty is another cause. Some families could not survive with another mouth to feed, or without the financial contributions of working or self-supporting children (which sometimes involves prostitution).
There may be as many as 100 million street children in the world, unloved, undernourished, and uneducated. Society often tries to forget them, or ignore them, or sometimes even deny that they exist. The problem will not go away by itself, however, and unless addressed soon, may lead to more dire consequences. (After Cheryl Sylvia Smith, Ph.D., University of Durban--Westville, Faculty of Education, Durban, Republic of South Africa.)
Lets add to this conclusion that the problem of street children is in the countries itself seen as a burden to get rid of, or to exploit.
The phenomenon ‘street children’ is one of the many problems that once occur in developing countries. They can be seen as a part of the overall poverty. But it seems also a more a condensed form of the global relation between the rich and poor, the haves and the non-haves.
The increase of the number of street children could possibly be seen as relative to the phenomenon of the globalization. Young people are the most vulnerable and at the same time they are the working and intellectual force of the future.
Developing countries are depending on the capabilities of the youth in the future time. That is why this problem of the street children must have more attention here and in other countries. Europe as a bundle of states that have added to the troubled past of many third world countries should also show their responsibility towards the children of those countries.
I want to make this photographic project (book and exhibition), called Global Street Child, to show images of the street children themselves, pure as it can be. Not only focussed on the bad circumstances, still portraits in the classic portrait style of the portrait photographers. That is why I call the project Global Street Child, in single form, to focus on the person of the child and its personal tragedy. Often people are confronted with a lot of figures, numbers and calculations concerning the problem. I want to show the person behind the story. Therefore focus on a pure portrait is for me the best means to reach this goal. The image nowadays has a big impact.
For my photographic survey I use an old-fashioned large format camera that gives very detailed and sharp images. The advantage of this format is the big realism the photos reveal. The spectator feels obliged to look at the person depicted. Together comes a more slow and meditative aspect that gives more room to ponder on the persons live. I also use a special lighting technique with a combination of daylight and flash to clarify the person on the picture.
To be precise I want to include children in countries from different continents as to show the problem worldwide. This means that countries from Asia, Africa, and Americas and from Eastern Europe must be included.
In the book photo-portraits of children related to the following topics should be included as to show the different aspect related to street children: Girls, Slavery, Criminality, Labour. This means that preferably children involved with slavery work, paid labour, criminal behaviour and child-prostitution should be included. This should not be the main part of the book as not to overkill the reality of most other children in the street.
The book must contain about 80 portraits of children from the proposed countries. Together with these portraits come short interviews texts concerning their lives. I have found out with my other projects that portraits that come with short texts have a greater impact. Large texts might diminish again the attention. (Large insight- texts will be put behind in the book). Apart from the portraits and their text the book will include different essays concerning the issue written by scientists and field workers, as well as foreword from politicians that show concern. The revenues of the book go to the children by supporting different actions. The book also contains a list of all relevant organizations in the field.
All other portraits that have been produced will find their way to the website. On the website links will be made to different organizations that work for street children and to other fundraising organizations that help field organizations. Also the website will contain links of the sponsors.
The project Global Street Child wants to provoke awareness about
the situations of 1oo millions street children. It must be a kind
of “PR” for the hardships that they encounter in order
to put the issue on the political and social agenda. This comes
close to the aims of the European Foundation of the Street Children
Worldwide. The mission of the EFSCW comprise between others:
• to raise political awareness within and with EU institutions in the field of excluded children with particular focus on street children;
• to intensify informed political debate, in particular at European level, and to have the issue of such children integrated into mainstream social and economic policy making;
• to raise public awareness and to mobilize public opinion on the issues of such children;
• to promote applied research and the exchange of knowledge and experience (best practice) acting as a broker for affiliated persons and institutions;
The photographic image, as is known, is a strong vehicle to raise awareness of an issue. But at the same time many images are worn out, and can create the opposite effect. Because I choose for a personalized approach in the form of detailed portraits these images will create fresh reactions.
Ton Hendriks, Amsterdam, 2006