2016 / People / Children

The Window

  • Photographer
    Jing Hu

The image series belongs to my ongoing photography project "Under the same sky". It was taken at Siloamu School, which is located in the slum area in Nairobi, Kenya. It's an area where terrorists are known to make bombs. It's an area where more than 50 percent of residents carry AIDS as per local healthcare surveys. Due to the densely packed dwellings and fire prone construction materials, it's also an area where fires are common. I witnessed one big fire and a local firefighter told me there are 10+ every day. In the whole slum area, there's a ditch running through which brings sanitation concerns. The Siloamu School has 4 classrooms and about 85 students study here across classes 1-6. Due to lack of electricity, they use natural sunlight in their dark classroom. Apart from light from the open door, they cropped a hole in the wall, which served as a 'window' to get light. But the classroom is still very dark. Apart from that, a ditch runs through the school and the aisle to one classroom is not a flat ground but is actually the ditch. The kids need to pass through the ditch to move across classrooms and some students walk the path barefoot. Also, due to limited space, they also have two classes studying in the same room facing opposite sides. As a volunteer and a photographer, I got permission from the school principal to take photos of the school and students studying there. The kids were excited about the idea because they were being individually photographed for the first time. I took portrait photos for each student at school, and asked them to bring whatever they liked most. It was heartening to know that despite their environment, they enjoy school, they play, they laugh, they make friends, and take care of each other. With these photos and after some persistence, I held a photo exhibition in Nairobi University to raise awareness and funds for the school. I also printed and handed the photos to the children and they were delighted to see their own photographs as it was a first for them.