"In Plain Sight: Child @ Work" is a compilation of photographs that reveals different examples of children at work across a number of countries. Some examples that are often so commonplace that they become obscured by own familiarity.
The International Labor Organization defines the term child labor as “work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development”. This collection includes diverse illustrations of labor, some of which are generally judged as acceptable – a young girl helping her father sell balloons – and some which are universally condemned, such as the horror of very young sex workers. As a staff member of international development organizations who has worked in over 30 countries, I take these photographs to keep myself motivated – by the inspiring successes and the ongoing need.
As reformed a neuroscientist, and a career international development worker, the photographer, Michael A. Cohen, uses the potential of artistic devises to reveal subjects as vibrant and valuable individuals. Successful international development strategies recognize that people are not simply victims of their fortune, but participants in community resurgence. Statistically, populations can be tallied and even compelled to make changes; but individuals are sentient, thoughtful, complicated and defiant. The intensity of local innovative thinkers can be harnessed to generate results that would not otherwise be achieved.
Simply acknowledging that a population is actually a collective of individuals is an oft-forgotten, but essential step before drawing on their energy to change the world – or at least a part of it. My, admittedly selfish goal therefore, is to take pictures that inspire me. They are glimpses into the lives of individuals who happen to belong to the populations that I am tasked with helping to transform.
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