‘Sometime a crow visits my balcony and its harsh calling wakes me up. Those mornings often turned me down. In such meaningless morning I just pack my bag, give myself a break and walk out in a nameless street. My endless journey welcomes me ahead and I picked memories one by another from my unknown destination. Capturing a definition of an indefinite street is street photography to me’- GMB Akash
‘Stop being bookish, follow your own theory’
‘Make yourself comfortable’ or ‘feel being at home’ these advices are too bookish to me. In practical, my heartbeat goes up and my knees shake a bit when I stand in a place that I want to express just accurately the way I am encountering. When a cat suddenly popped up with an old woman and their astonishing-frightened-funny stunt gives me a command in my head ‘click-click-click’. ‘But what I shoot!’ I missed a second and that took out all. Yes, this is the biggest challenge that street photography offers you. You have to seize the moment before your cerebrum read it. So the question is, ‘are you afraid being in street’? I believe when a person become photographer he/she leave ‘afraid/anxiety’ behind. I rather call it hesitation/nervousness and insecurity. When you jump into the street by carrying your camera you already killed your 50% fear. Now it is your nervousness that holds you back and just after clicking your first shot you are ready to rock in the road.
‘A photographer next door image’ or ‘an invisible photographer image’?
In the middle of a big crowd, surrounded by so many people different than me sometime I become unusual. And when people started noticing me by raising their eye brows then my big smile helps me out being abnormal. Yes, as a photographer it is very important that you have a familiar face with a universal smile at least an ability that tells people you are reliable. When you learn to merge in the ground then surprisingly you will see that you learn the method of being there but unseen by people. It depends on you either you want to earn a ‘photographer next door image’ or an ‘invisible photographer image’, pick one that serve your intention and that helps you to shot well.
Get the hint
The street that I often visit is not only familiar by me but I am also familiar by it. A common place I visit has a triangle turn where then comes the street corner; there I usually followed by one or two street dogs. In the beginning it was not the same. In the very first day they suspect me and even after touching them they suspiciously moves with me whole day. Now when I appear in the street they wave their tail and follow me obediently. Inhabitants know well that I am no longer a stranger. So whenever you are new to a place make a relation, get a hint or balance yourself repeating something people can understand that photography is your passion not any venture. When you are totally in a new place and you might never get another chance to be there even then try to find a mutual intimation. Trust me your understanding and relation will show in the picture you will take.
Enjoy discovering yourself
Every street is different, people belong to the street is different, smell is different, color, texture, light all are different. Indifferent is you and your camera. Discover a different you in every different street is your voyage. The biggest challenge is to discover the unique thread by this common with your third eye. For me the photograph is only a wow – when I take a picture of the street and after showing it to the curious inhabitant they express, ‘when it happened? Does it really look alike?!’ when people laugh, shout, surprise and question then I get the picture is happy to be about. It’s a treat for yourself when seating at your lab you suddenly bumped in a folder where you found the expression of a European shopkeeper is the same with an Asia shopkeeper just difference is in place and circumstance. Discovering this similarity is way more interesting than finding differences. Enjoy discovering yourself in everything that is the wow factor will keep you motivated in long run.
Try to answer yourself why you are fascinated about street photography. What will it bring to you? Why are you passionate to be in street? Are you stopped yourself because there is no fame or name after continuing do it! Find your inspiring trigger and forget about expectation. Keep yourself motivated, ignore critiques. Find an inspiring space which appreciates that what you are doing. It can be a friend circle; it can be your blog or your website or just your facebook. It is very important to be inspired to continue your work that you are doing.
What actually Street Photography gives you?
- Street Photography helps to be a good photographer. Street photography has a trial and error method that helps you to enrich yourself as a photographer though whatever your field is.
- It brings you the utmost courage to go to that much close to the people that someone allows to welcome a stranger. Its helps you to mix with unknown people and to know about their attitude towards you
- It bounds you to take challenge. Finding a way of a maples road is aspiration of street photography.
- It will help you professionally to gain new concept, unconventional idea and will help to create your masterpiece.
- People said in street photography 99% are wasted. I said street photography teaches you photography 99% and rest 1% you have to gain.
How to do good out in the street?
- What you are carrying who cares, carry that much you can effort, just remember you have to walk a lot and you cannot annoy people by your baggage.
- Street photography helps to stay focused but you have to make the connection. Smile a lot and try to make fun with people you are meeting.
- Make street photography one of your favorite time pass. Discovering new things everyday is like surfing in a new you.
- Street photography is like swimming. I am not kidding! When you learn to swim (photographing) you will desire to go deeper.
- Learn to handle yourself in the street. It is you and your personality that will help people to look at your camera naturally.
- Until you are not enjoying your walk your camera or your mind will not take your demand.
- Take a company or a friend with you at the beginning to break the ice. Shooting alone is way too enjoyable when you know how to treat yourself best in a lone journey. Do not go out with more than three friends then shooting will be secondary.
- Keep wakening your third eye
- Look at things in the streets like you are watching a movie. Find the characters, drama, action, humor and romance.
- Carry the camera that follows your command. Do not juggle with new equipments in the street without run it previously.
In the journey of photograph limitless experiences remain uncounted. Bad news won’t keep navigators from the open seas. The street photographer who loves the work he/she is doing will never stop. The courage of such ONE gives birth of His/her kind of street photography.
I teach street photography in The compelling Image: The Compelling Image: Online-Interactive Courses in Photography and Multimedia Storytelling
If you are interested to join in my street photography course sign in: Street Photography Classic and Creative
‘A tattoo tugs my mind. Not the tattoo but the meaning. ‘Alis Volat Propriisi’ which is Latin for ‘She flies on her own wings’. A girl who is the proprietor of the tattoo was in a beauty parlour in Laos. She said, she prefers to to live like a free bird which her tattoo said. It gave a new meaning to the work I did in Laos. It’s been two weeks and I was looking for a salon to cut my hair and to do the shaving. After looking for a proper place I discovered salons and women with beauty possessions. As I never worked on the topic it was new to me. I generally know girls are obsessive about being beautiful but it was something out of my experience. I learned a makeover can change beauty within. I take permission from girls to take picture and being able to know about it. Meeting striking women from being the perfect professional and home maker to being crazy party girls it just compliments the ‘multi-tasker’ title for women. My photo series took a turn when a girl was wearing her mask on and whispered, ‘Every morning before I face the world I face myself’. I am trying to bringing out the glamazon to you and accepting the fact that wearing hearts on sleeves like woman is not easy! Isn’t it?’
- GMB Akash
It was a new territory for me. It takes time to adjust myself to take photographs in women region. Language was a barrier but already I learn few from the local language and started the conversation with the help of English. I was carrying my photography book which helped me to take permission to take photographs.
My bouncy hair and tiring traveler-raw-look scared women but whenever I showed them my book they smiled and said yes. I was very wrong in the perception that women do not bother about man’s look. They do! And additionally they care about their look most!
Woman empowering by entrepreneurship is inspiring. A good example of entrepreneurship is parlour business. Women are working independently on the sector they preferred in Laos. Men and women are their clients. They are offering different kinds of services which varied in price and quality. From head to toe parlour offered services. It starts from beauty treatment and ends to full makeover. They offer facial, threading, waxing, massage, yoga, skin therapy, foot massage, steam bath and many services to indulge in luxury. Every parlour is busy with their clients. Few of them offer membership card and special discount to attract new clients. Parlour is a business which proved services can beat products. Every client wants better service and hardly they know about the product those parlour girls are using on them.
A woman who was receiving foot massage said, ‘It’s a healing world. It gives me a break from the tension world I live in’.
Discover beauty within is the best part of any makeover. Inner beauty brings the outer beauty and may be vice verse. A makeover is not complete until a life changing makeover is not under taken. If an external makeover helps to bring out internal beauty then why not to indulge in this treat. Giving a break to yourself to get a new you is whole worthy, right?
Now, I back to my story. As in the beginning of this exciting photo trip, I went out to cut my hair and shave my beard in Laos. Let me speak out the truth. When I enter into a parlour then a girl arrive to cut my hair. Being a traditional Bangladeshi I was surprised and can not seat in the chair. Its naive but what to do about it! It is me! I brought out my camera in the parlour. I requested the parlour lady to allow me to take pictures. She asked me, ‘Do you want to cut your hair also?’ I wave my head right to left and then left to right. No regrets. What is more important for a photographer than a whole new set of photographs and such new experience!
Why participants need to attend a workshop? - Simply to raise the quality of their images. When I ask a participant to tell me the strengths and weaknesses of an image, the reply is often a ‘pause’ or a few responses in generalizations. If you can't specifically identify what's right or wrong about a photograph, it's nearly impossible to seriously improve.
“My photo book ‘Survivors’ is not only important presentation of my 10 years works. It is significant to me in many ways. Surviving in a poor country — facing adversity daily — is akin to a lifetime of tragedy. So in a number of ways, the images presented on these pages are my own experiences, too. My journeys connect me to the many characters. Sometimes I had to run, take a ride on the roof of a moving train, sleep on a flooded floor and spend many hours walking the maze of avenues through sprawling city slums. It is the reaching of my protagonists, the welcome into their homes and their lives, that makes my work worthwhile.
And if mine is the hand that blocks the scorching sun from their eyes — bringing shade for just a single minute, then there’s value in the work I do. I am touched that people started valuing my small step. Yes, one never can complete one’s quest for serving for humanity but I am trying. While photography is a big task but beside it is my willingness to serve these people whom I photograph which is more challenging.
I am gifting business/source of income to each family I am able to give from my book ‘Survivors’. Finding people from the book whom I captured 5-10 years ago, talking/sharing ideas with them, finding the right business, even in some cases doing the business myself for few days, educating them, monitoring them become toughest than photography. But I believe, every amazing achievement starts with an impossibility. Now after seeing these happy families of Survivors, I realize, when many little people in many small places do many small things, they can change the face of the world” – GMB Akash
Over the course of the last decade, I have built a collection of photographs depicting the wise, resigned, sad and sometimes bewildered faces of children, sex workers, climate change survivors and many others who share the “struggle” day-in and day-out. And although the circumstances of many of the people I portray may be grim, as individual they are people of remarkable character. And it is the beauty of such people and the human soul that remains when nearly all else is gone. This beauty I strive to capture in the photographs I take.
This post is tribute to those ‘Survivors’ who sifted their life with my small gift and make a bench mark to rest of the people by becoming example to their community or locality.
Sajib – a child labourer is busy with his immense workload. These children are deprived from almost all human rights, dedicating the entire childhood towards supporting their families in need. Heavy workloads, prone towards injuries and discrimination are common to them all.
I took picture of Sajib in an aluminum pot factory four years ago. Sajib’s (14) mother Salma Begum’s (35) working life started when she was 15 years old. 10 taka (1 USD =80 Taka) was her first salary. She has one daughter and only one son Sajib. She might never send Sajib to work in silver factory if her income can generate three times food for her two children. She came to her slum 26 years ago. She earns 500 taka per week as well Sajib earns 400 taka per week. They have to pay 1400 tk rent of only one room in which she, her husband sleeps along their children.
Her husband has affairs with other ladies and spends his whole income either for women or for addiction. She cannot let him go as he is her children’s father. Her daughter is very good student. She always do top in the class. But Sajib or Salma Begum no one can give her fees, books, dairy or even Tiffin. Sajib sometime manages to do overtime and gives his extra salary to his sister to continue her education. I spotted Sajib and get a picture of him three years ago in silver cooking factory when he was 11 years old.
Through the ‘Survivors’ project I find him out and get the insight of his family. I understand Salma Begum is one who can help the situation, if I lend my hand to her by project ‘Survivors’. She has previous experience of selling bed sheet and she earns enough that time. She was just an employee of a Khala (aunt) who has the capital. She saw khala earns 200-300 taka daily while she sells everything. But end of the day she got 50 taka as her labor cost. She leaves the job as she has no capital and the income was low. Now she wants to do that business again by the assistance of expertise of one of her sister. She wants to sell Kamiz (women dress) and Shari to door to door and later in a shop. The only thing is she needs capital. I trusted on her idea and let her do the business and go to buy clothes with her. Her plan was she will buy cloths with her full capital then with the selling profit she will buy more and again move for selling.
Her planned worked. She got good customer in her locality and other areas who willingly buy cloths seating at home. She do profit less, sells more thus she gains customer loyalty and this uneducated lady now is a successful seller. It’s been nearly year she is doing her business and her son Sajib is helping her. She sends Sajib to Brac School but he could not able to read or write and feels shame to do study with juniors. Salma Begum decided to involve Sajib more in her business and admit him in a technical school beyond conventional. She bought furniture for her small house and her only daughter now goes to teacher for private tuitions.
She is more than happy with the fact that still woman like her is capable to earn a dream with dignity. And my happiness? Seeing this family, I feel simply proud.
31 year old Hashmoth lost half of his face in a tiger attack in 1995. The attack was on his first day out fishing. He was sleeping in the boat when the tiger attacked. Though he survived it, the damage to his face was such that no one from his village would come near him. His parents forced a girl to marry him. At the initial days of his marital life, he would not allow his wife to look at him. The region is home to approximately 500 Bengal tigers, one of the largest single populations of tigers in one area. These tigers are well-known for the substantial number of people they kill; estimates range from 50-250 people per year. Satkhira, Bangladesh
By the project “survivors” I planned to help him. I ask them what business will be easy to do for them or what income source can be easily maintain by Hashmoth. He & his wife came to a decision that they will sell fish in market. For this purpose they need capital. I go to their near market with them, saw Hashmoth’s capability of selling fish by a trial. Then we went with Hashmoth to see how difficult fish business for him is. As my method of helping is not giving money in hand, so I assign a volunteer who will assist them to do business in first one month. Already I visited twice but still the place is far from the city, so I keep my faith alive that they will overcome all obstacles.
And they did. Along help of her brave wife Hasmoth is selling fish in the market and spends his profit for daily expenditure of their family. His wife manages to save little from their profit. Hashmoth goes to sell fishes at early morning and at evening. Rest of the time either he takes rest. Thus Hashmoth is able to stop himself from begging door to door and become a real survivor in the race of life.
“Several times I have been severely broken heart, injured or illnesses have torn me down. Nevertheless I continue working because of my strong belief that my pictures can make a difference. I learn, the wound of today is the power of tomorrow. And ‘Survivors’ proved me that no matter what happens in life still life is precious, each moment deserves celebration
“I was searching for ‘Survivors’ to help their families. It was a long journey to find each and every face after ten years later.”
A quote of Helen Keller is a big inspiration for me in this journey which I want to share with you all:
“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.”
- GMB Akash’
What are the rains like in your country? Are they soft and drizzly? Or are they firece and theatrical like the storm visit us in south of Bangladesh? Or may be they’re just charming and infuriating like Dhaka traffic in the rain? Monsoon touches each region of our land in a different way. Scent of wet earth, where careless hopes takes root, where no dreams grasps for savagery. In where life is full with enormous liberty to mesmerize – a crazy photographer this me, loves monsoon gravely. Walking into the slippery mud, hanging my camera bag, I can’t stand umbrellas. I keep reciting
‘ But in love our hearts are as red earth and pouring rain; mingled beyond parting’.
This is a land of rain. It forms in the best colour in monsoon. Inviting you to watch glimpse of it how colourful the rain remains in my country.
The rain bring cooler weather, and the dusty,dry forests transform within a week of the first showers from arid brown to a languid mix of lush greens enveloped by a phantasmagoric mist.
Rains when you are heading to school make you miserable; But rains when your are off for the day are license to splash!
The rains might be picturesque. But some of us still have to get to work.
Rain start suddenly and pelt you furiously with huge coin-sized drops
You’re rushing home from work just as the rain starts.
Harvesting shapeless dreams in the figment of canvas
If you want rainbows in your life, put up with rain first
Sometimes LITTLE things matters BIG in our life
Is that your lonely heart rains loud sometime too!
Leaving umbrella can be risky for heart of mine, as camera needed to handle with great care in rain. I wrapped my camera well and the camera bag is always weather sealed still a raincoat for my camera bag is must. I love to lost in the villages and Bengal rain is something you should remember in your lifetime. Photography in rain is difficult but it is the fun of a blend how desperately you are enjoying the photography and the rain. The difficulty is being pick the moment of certain glimpse of heavenly background from the continual pouring of dull weather. But when the rainbows shines it takes you into a different world. Many times I waited in a field for hours to follow a photo moment without anticipation. And the colour? A refreshing burst will be found in the screen of the camera, the fresh eloquent moments to capture. Everything become heavenly in a moment. So why to wait with empty hand?
The smell of wet earth, the first raindrop on your skin,followed by the subsequent rhythmic thud in the background – rain remind us that we’ve been cribbing about the summer too long to be anything but grateful now. In teenage I use to imagine – Tears of love turn into heavenly drops of rain, that make the heart bud. The monsoon so as a rainy day is always dear to me. For YOU too?
I am nobody and I have nothing. A simplistic human being stated as photographer who continued to question around his world. I conjure traveling in the different layers of myself and host an activist inside me by innate attributes. Yes, neither I am an industrialist nor do I hold a lion’s share of a company. For me CSR or charity is fancy word. But the passage I walked 15 years smiled melancholic to me. I marvel and interpret it to the world believing for a change. But the verb ‘Change’ itself very ‘dearly-won’. I found 18 years old drug users dyeing abandoned before I take him in my shoulder, I know how a sex worker cut off veins and her bleeding marks keep me awakening nights. I know how cold and deep an old lonely mother’s breathe can be in an elderly home. In the dormitories of injustice of the world I uphold to believe in ‘Miracles’.
Roton a 12 years old street child once said me. “You rich people just talk, talk and talk! You are nonsense, all of you are nonsense. Children of my age goes to school, plays at park, their mother clean their skin, force them to get shower. Look at my hand, my hair, my skin no one tells me to take shower. I run to carry baggage of passengers, they throw me money like I am piece of shit, police beat me, and goons take my money. No one care, nobody. I sniff shoe glue, I want to lost, and I want to delete my memory. I curse you, I curse government, I curse my unknown parents, I curse everyone of this cruel world”.
Roton’s voice echoing all the time and I can’t rest in peace with my eminence. This is the story of me and the people I care for. I feel it to tell it to you as I want you to love someone, to give tinniest love of your heart to the abandoned. Try to discover your image in the light of their eyes with love and hope. So sharing a small episode of my continual journey and once more telling you I am one of you, a person having no wealth at all but a heart to give away whatever I have. If my single word, small phase of explanation inspires you, please merge in.
You’re given this life as gift; make yourself a gift to life.
‘By wiping off tears with corner of his shirt a Teenage boy was walking through rail line. The world seems ugly with eyes pour water. A weird anger runs in his vein which is unexplainable to him even. When he takes a seat under the lazy evening light, he started feeling the pain of his chest. His father beat him by clutching with mango tree. His step mother was literally happy and didn’t give him his lunch. His crime was to fall asleep in the field with cattle. Hungry Shuvo (13) started missing his dead mother, who may never allow him to go away from home without having lunch. In the station and in such a warm day who care about an oversensitive boy and his empty stomach. Anger, depression, misery everything mock at Shuvo. Two days, three nights Shuvo had only leftover from restaurants. When he jumped into a running train, he didn’t calculate about upcoming calamities of his life, only he heard the roar of his angry heart. When he started seeing around him, he saw many of other children reluctantly sleeping in the floor of station’s platform. In the time Shuvo feels he is not alone. Unknown faces become familiar and more affectionate. He sleeps with serenity after three nights of sleeplessness. From the day Shuvo is bohemian.
When Shuvo tell me his tale, Raihan (11) laughs loud and say ‘Police first day take me and beaten up a lot. They thought I take drug. I don’t even know what Dandi (a drug street child takes) is’. All of their daily earning is 60-80 Tk by carrying baggage of passengers. Sharif (14) remained silent. Neither he wants to share his story nor listen to others. Depression is in his skin, in everywhere of his belongings. When I smiled at him, he smiles back too, then whisper, “Do you think I can do it ?” I replied “YES! Three of you can!’
Their curies eyes, hope on me, their trust making me nervous inside. What I can do further? In a scorching afternoon I can lend my hands to them and show affection but what about their wound which is as fresh as their age! It’s been already months I seat with children show movies, counseling with them, taken them into lunch BUT THEN? One, two, Three thus hundred children and their dreams! Am I capable to hold them all! But I stop myself questioning. I started doing something. With my nameless family our journey begins. Shuvo, Sharif and Raihan are three members of my family.
‘Can’t sleep last night Bhai, I pushed Sharif many times and ask him when the sun will rise and you will come’ – It was Raihan speaking to me in the final day. Three of them were wearing two paints and two-three shirts at a time. They don’t want to lose their precious dirty cloths so they wear it all the time. Returning from a long assignment and was on the way when I received call at 6 am from Shuvo asking when I will come. I change my mind and by hanging the bag I started towards them skipping home. I was 10 minutes late but as soon as I appear to the place three of them running to me like kitties. Besides them many of others were wondering with curiosity. I heard a loud voice of Paglu (self-named) ‘Bhai, if they become good boys I will join you too. I swear my Mojnu (a street dog) that I will never take drug again.’ Paglu is along them with whom I pass a day monthly, show them my images and discuss topics needed to share.
When I walked with my three boys I realize they didn’t eat anything yesterday. So first we went to have our breakfast and had it full. They listen to my each word carefully and we planned what we will do in coming three months. Already I taught them small calculation weeks ago. Then I went to buy clothes for them. Raihan is the youngest and started demanding many things while Sharif scolds him for his behavior. When again I ask them, is that they can remember their address/home and I can take them back like Masud, then their faces become cloudy. After a long period of silence Sharif said ‘After I become succeed in life I will return back. Then you can take me home’. I realize their mental condition and don’t force any more.
In the shopping mall they started selecting their desired cloths in the time of bargaining I shared sharing their small story with curious people though none of the shopkeepers sacrifice a penny of profit for the sake of these boys. I don’t wonder because I know ‘responsibility’ term only referred to ‘family’ in our society. & we cannot change until we realize from ourselves. After buying cloths, we buy sandals, combs, mirror, oil, everything they needed to live a children life properly. I took them to cut their hairs and nails. Then I took them to a place for shower.
When I stood beside them with soap they were the world’s happiest children in that moment. I can’t control to capture the moment with my camera. Crowd of people were following us, few of them thanks me and few of them make me annoyed. After having full packed lunch we moved to our working place.
I gift them small opportunity of work and connect them with business under a mentor. MD. Melon has a popcorn business who alliance with us and agreed to be their supervisor. I gift them the capital for popcorn business for three months. At first day of their work I myself sell popcorn in the road with them to inspire them by standing next to them full time. We calculated profit and they put it in their own piggy bank as saving of their first day job. They were amazed to see that together they made a good profit and still had enough for food. Thus their story starts, every day after finishing school they come to their Supervisor and take products and go for selling. At evening they return back calculate prices and pass free time by playing. It’s been three months and they make their capital double. The name of their business is ‘Street Boy’s Dream’. Now they are planning to shift their business for selling Ladies accessories and cosmetics.
Beside them other groups of children are doing different kind of small businesses by my gift which comes from my book ‘Survivors’. It is bless to share that ‘First Light Institute of Photography’, the photo school, I am going to launch in this August will be their institution and support center. I dream to go along with street boy’s dream. Their small steps are gift for my life, reincarnation of my soul. Their affection has filled my heart with utmost peacefulness. I believe, we cannot afford to lose hope, for we are all part of making some small and large changes, each day, each moment. We all can make a deposit into someone’s life. The best part of this form of giving is that it is LIMITLESS. By which we can make an incredible difference in their world.
I inspect them with my wondering mind. Standing in the middle of a place, which is unspeakable with adjective is pretty shaking. The guard opens the door and bumped me in, before I realize I saw he disappeared and I found myself in the cage. A whistle breaks my nervousness and I eyed over a young face. He mocked at me and as soon as I take my first step he vanished with sound of his chain fitted in his leg. In a meter distance from me a naked man seating beside the drain. A few meters away some contorting their emaciated bodies as much as the shackles will allow. Others are setting comatose. The 1,000-square-meter center is divided into two iron-fenced dormitories — one for men and one for women. Confined by the length of their chain, the wooden stock in which they are trapped, or the makeshift cage in which they are imprisoned, they are forced to eat, sleep and defecate in the same spot.
I found the boy mocked me at the door again in water area. A naked boy, thin with protruding ribs, turns his head down as he is sprayed with a water hose and getting bath by the help of center’s stuffs. But this time he didn’t even notice me.
I continue motivating myself not to lose my mind. As a human being it is intolerable to look into faces which have no more past, no more future in fact no more present even. It’s seems odd to see how patients are living in iron-fenced dormitory and how many are chained but this is somehow logical when the centre’s assistant make me understand later. They do it for patient’s attacking behaviors. Many of them hurt others as well themselves by hitting head in the floor or wood. In the beginning when their treatment starts with the chain they slowly become clam and it helps later for their treatment.
A man suddenly appears in front of me pointing his finger he is calling me ‘Hello Mr. Teddy Smith, how are you?’ for a second I feel he is completely fine, a normal person like me. Then I saw his chain. His words were echoing in my ears. With another turn I noticed, I am wearing a T-shirt with a print in it “Teddy Smith”.
I keep looking at patients lying in the floors. Confined by the length of the chain a patient is lying comatose. Most of the patients have brought by police or NGO’s as they were spending their lives in on the streets for lack of ignorance family to the lack of psychiatric services for the poor. In lunch time most of the patients eats boiled rice and usually there is not much chatter between them. They need at least 3 tons of rice a month and tons of vegetables, but the center hardly can manage the food for enough funds.
My times up but the guard forgets about me. I shivered in fear for a moment that how I will pass more hours in these iron-fenced dormitories. I keep listening someone is crying quietly, someone is reciting Quran’s one phase repeatedly; someone is singing a song with an unusual tune. I waited and imagine how life itself taken ourselves in its cage. How every day the battle of living gives birth of insanity. There is a small portion of psyche living inside all of us. The difference is people who lost themselves fully only treated as psychiatric patients.
After a longer battle having inside me, I heard footsteps of the guard. I hurried to go out and listened ‘Mr. Teddy Smith, Bye, Bye’.
The overwhelming stink will welcome visitors in the entrance of Yasan Galuh rehabilitation centre for the mentally ill, outside Jakarta. Created in 1994, The Yayasan Galuh rehabilitation center is a foundation that cares for mentally-ill individuals who have been debarred from the Indonesian society and who have no access to medical care due to their limited financial resources. In Yayasan Galuh, more than 260 patients spend their days on hard tiled floors hooped by open sewers. Patients are often chained, caged, and naked. The screaming and weeping is constant. Despite the awful conditions, here facility staffs see themselves as healers giving patients – many who have been left at Yayasan Galuh by family members – ancient and effective therapies. Most of Yayasan Galuh’s 260 current patients were referred to them by the police, NGOs or the patients’ families. Tens of thousands of mentally ill Indonesians bear an unimaginable torment, left to battle the demons of severe psychiatric disorders while chained and shackled for years on end. The 1,000-square-meter center is divided into two iron-fenced dormitories — one for men and one for women. There are hundreds of mentally ill people shackled for years, even decades, by poor and clueless families who believe they have no alternative. Indonesia has a population of 240 million, and only 500 psychiatrists. The resulting treatment gap leads many to rely on traditional herbal treatments and prayer to alleviate mental illness commonly thought to be caused by dark spirits. Almost 750,000 Indonesians with mental illness get no medical treatment throughout the country.
|nehajayaram on ‘Survivors’ Part II|
|nehajayaram on An Unflinching Eye|
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"I see the beauty of people and the human soul in the pictures I take. And though the circumstances of some of the people I portray may be grim, back-breaking, depraved, the people themselves are always remarkable characters and souls" For me Photography is my language, to access, to communicate, to identify and mostly to make it hear. Through photography I only jot down my heart’s language. The best part about being a photographer is that I’m able to articulate the experiences of the voiceless and to bring their identities to the forefront which gives meaning and purpose to my own life. I have received more than 68 international awards and my work has been featured in over 70 major, international publications including: National Geographic, Vogue,Time, Sunday Times, Newsweek, Geo, Stern, Der Spiegel, The Fader, Brand Ein, The Guardian, Marie Claire, Colors, The Economist, The New Internationalist, Kontinente, Amnesty Journal, Courier International, PDN, Die Zeit, Days Japan, Hello, and Sunday Telegraph of London. In 2002 I became the first Bangladeshi to be selected for the World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass in the Netherlands. In 2004 I received the Young Reporters Award from the Scope Photo Festival in Paris — once again, the first Bangladeshi to receive this honour. In 2005 I was awarded “Best of Show” at the Center for Fine Art Photography’s international competition in Colorado, USA. And in 2006 I was awarded World Press Photo award and released my premier book “First Light”. In 2007 I became the first Bangladeshi to be selected for the 30 Emerging Photographers (PDN 30), sponsored by Photo District News Magazine, USA. I won the 7th Vevey International Photography Grant from Switzerland in 2009 and in the same year, I took home the international ‘Travel photographer of the Year” title at the International Travel Photographer of the Year Competition (TPOY 2009) in the UK, the most prestigious award in travel photography. I was one of the speakers in the fifth Global Investigative Journalism Conference, held at Lillehammer, Norway in 2008 and as well I was the first Bangladeshi in Ted talk at TEDxOporto 2011, in Portugal. I was one of the speaker of “7th Forum of Emerging Leaders in Asian Journalism”, Yogyakarta / Indonesia”. In 2011 Nikon has selected me as one of the 8 influencers in Asia pacific (APAC region). Presentation of my 10 years project published as form of book ‘Survivors’ in 2012, which has reviewed by prestigious Geo magazine.