The World as I see: Teens from the waste picker community photograph life in Bengaluru slums

~ Children from Saamuhika Shakti Project in the waste picking community chronicle their world ~

~ Photos clicked by children showcase the desired changes in their community ~

Bengaluru, 11th May 2022: Save The Children-Bal Raksha Bharat launched a photobook today capturing the world as seen from the lens of teenage children from the waste-picker community of Bengaluru slums. Trained in a 2-day photojournalism workshop in December 2021 under the H&M Foundation-funded Saamuhika Shakti project of Save the Children, images captured by these children reflect their perspective of the world they live in and helped them understand civic infrastructure, social and economic issues they face. These images have been compiled into a photobook and were presented to the Department of Women and Child Development, Karnataka.

Launching the photobook, Priyanka Mary Francis I.A.S., Director, Department of Women and Child Development, Karnataka said, “We are delighted to see this initiative and find this a very scalable model, and this should not be restricted to a few children. I would like Save the Children to take this up in more places. It is also important to get the community involved in a place like Bengaluru where there are multiple issues that restrict access to these slums to provide solutions. Community should start demanding solutions from the government by identifying the issue and solutions and joining hands like the way with Saamuhika Shakti programme. When a solution comes from the community, it is more sustainable. The department is ready to support with administrative decision making. Whatever be the starting steps, lets join hands together and see such good initiatives for the future also.”

Backed by the Department of Women and Child Development, the project is addressing learning needs and healthy lifestyles for children from waste-picking families. Children, through this workshop exposure, also learned about their rights which intends to provide a conducive learning environment for 9300+ most marginalized children (3-18 years) from waste-picker and marginal households in Bengaluru city.

Maria Bystedt – Strategy Lead, H&M Foundation said, “This workshop not only gave the children the opportunity to learn about photography, but also the opportunity to show us issues that affect them. As adults, we should look at these photographs and ask ourselves how we can address these issues together with the children and involve them in the improvement of the community.” 

Despite their stupendous contribution, waste picking ranks lowest in the hierarchy of urban informal occupations, and many of those employed in this occupation are women and children, and those lowest in the caste hierarchy and the poorest of the poor, predominantly work as waste pickers. Saamuhika Shakti aims to improve the quality of life of informal waste pickers and their families in Bengaluru. The vision is to enable the waste pickers’ community to have greater agency to lead secure and dignified lives. This is a first-of-its-kind project in India where different partner organizations are joining forces to take a holistic approach to improving the living conditions of informal waste picker households. 

Jatin Mondar, Hub Lead – South, Save the Children mentioned, “The children in waste-picker communities have to contend with extreme poverty, face poor living conditions, and lack avenues for expression. Photography provides a ray of hope for the children to access their right to play, culture, and arts. The Saamuhika Shakti project by Save the Children and supported by H&M Foundation engages the waste-pickers community in planning and executing initiatives to make the lives of children from such households better”.

Further speaking about the initiative, Akshay Soni, Executive Director, Saamuhika Shakti, The/Nudge Institute said, “Here is a great opportunity to see the world with the innocence and freshness that only children have. These kids have transitioned from having their pictures taken of them, to taking pictures of the world. This is a great initiative to encourage the children of waste pickers to follow their interests as other children do.” 

Ritesh A lives in Jyothipura near Ramamurthy Nagar, where water is scarce. He was one of the attendees of the workshop. In his photos, people wait for their bi-weekly quota, lining up at the communal water taps. In another picture, a young boy is hard at work chopping wood, there are no people in the third picture, just a large pile of garbage. This is his Bengaluru, short on water, with an abundance of waste. “I have learned so much during these two days,” says Ritesh. “I took pictures of houses without toilets. “I have also taken pictures of people struggling to draw water from taps. We get water twice a week here”.

Save the Children initiated its journey of implementing Saamuhika Shakti Project supported by H&M Foundation in December 2019. The photographs will be exhibited offline as well as on Save the Children website online media. They will also be showcased to relevant government departments to push for measures to improve their conditions.  

City Today News

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