Children of Kurland Village
On the edge of the Tsitsikamma Nature Reserve in South Africa and in an area overlooked by Peak Formosa, is the rural township of Kurland Village. In stark contrast with the upmarket tourist haven that is Plettenberg Bay just down the road, Kurland Village is by and large, a poor rural community, with high unemployment, alcoholism, domestic violence and HIV.
A number of NGOs and volunteers from around the globe have been working to uplift the community, with an emphasis on the education of of the kids of Kurland Village as well as more immediate help with daily necessities and housing. I had the privilege of visiting Kurland Village as well as a couple of pre-schools with an ex volunteer and found the experience both humbling and inspiring. People are warm and welcoming and there are many people in and outside the community who work tirelessly to contribute in whatever way they can.
One observation I made was that the womenfolk of the community seem to be the doing the lion’s share of the work for the community, be it running soup kitchens or teaching in the schools. I noticed a lot of men just hanging around the street corners idling. Perhaps a longer stay in the community will reveal otherwise but this was my initial observation.
The children are the hope of the future of this community and it is not surprising that the majority of the community and volunteer projects are geared towards improving the education of the kids, often having to work alongside parental indifference towards education, as well as domestic violence or just the hardships brought about by poverty.
I left my job as an advertising Creative Director in August 2012 to travel Africa and South America for a year with my wife, documenting these beautiful places with my Fuji X-Pro1. View the rest of my RTW adventures on Handcarry Only and follow me on my journey by subscribing/following/bookmarking.
Children out on excursion | Ueno, Tokyo 2011
With a skip in their step and hands joined, a rowdy rabble of school children in yellow hats passed by, on their way to Ueno Zoo, their teacher at the back like a shepherd watching over his flock of noisy sheep.
See the rest of my photos from Japan!
Jizo keeping warm | Kamakura, Japan 2012
Jizō, or Ojizō-sama as he is respectfully known, is one of the most loved of all Japanese divinities. His statues are a common sight, especially by roadsides and in graveyards. Traditionally, he is seen as the guardian of children, particularly children who died before their parents. Since the 1980s, he has been worshiped as the guardian of the souls of mizuko, the souls of stillborn, miscarried or aborted fetuses, in the ritual of mizuko kuyō (水子供養, lit. offering to water children). In Japanese mythology, it is said that the souls of children who die before their parents are unable to cross the mythical Sanzu River on their way to the afterlife because they have not had the chance to accumulate enough good deeds and because they have made the parents suffer. It is believed that Jizō saves these souls from having to pile stones eternally on the bank of the river as penance, by hiding them from demons in his robe, and letting them hear mantras.
Jizō statues are sometimes accompanied by a little pile of stones and pebbles, put there by people in the hope that it would shorten the time children have to suffer in the underworld. (The act is derived from the tradition of building stupas as an act of merit-making.) The statues can sometimes be seen wearing tiny children’s clothing or bibs, or with toys, put there by grieving parents to help their lost ones and hoping that Jizō would specially protect them. Sometimes the offerings are put there by parents to thank Jizō for saving their children from a serious illness. Jizō’s features are commonly made more babylike to resemble the children he protects.
As he is seen as the saviour of souls who have to suffer in the underworld, his statues are common in cemeteries. He is also believed to be one of the protective deities of travelers, the dōsojin, and roadside statues of Jizō are a common sight in Japan. Firefighters are also believed to be under the protection of Jizō. (info from Wikipedia)
Surfer Kids Of Essaouira And Other Portraits Of Children In Morocco
The perennial waves and windy conditions off Essaouira translates to excellent surfing and kite surfing opportunities all year round. This has led to the formation of a semi permanent rag tag colony of surfers outside town, some Moroccan but mostly expat. It was hilarious to see some of the local kids, whose primary contact must be with these expat surfers, take on some of their lingo and mannerisms, which you can imagine, is quite different from the rest of Moroccan culture as a whole. These kids were boisterous and confident, dressed in hand-me-down Rip Curls and Quiksilver boardshorts. One of the young ones grabbed my camera when I was shooting them and started shooting away at his friends himself. One resulting image is in the slideshow above.
I really enjoyed taking pictures of the kids in Morocco, they are at once inquisitive, cheeky, shy and boisterous, but all innocent and playful, and it was heartwarming to see how some kids make do with so little, a reminder to us all to be thankful for all that we have.
See the rest of my photos and read about my Moroccan adventure.
School children on excursion | Tranås, Sweden 2007.
Canon 5D, EF 50mm f1.4
ABOUT THIS PROJECT
Over the past 15 years, I’ve been lucky to have travelled to a multitude of places and met countless amazing people. This collectively has played a huge role in shaping my world view and making me the person I am today. What I’ve come to realise is that despite differences in our skin colour, language, socio-economic status, we are all united in our common humanity, that we by and large dream the same dreams and seek the same things in life: Love, security, friendship and a purpose to wake up in the morning.
From the archives is a celebration of people, places and travel, and its limitless potential to open eyes and shape minds. From time to time, I will post a photograph I’ve taken from my archive of 43,000 photos from this period, with a brief description. Some photos are taken on film, some on digital, and I will include any camera equipment details if I have them. Please feel free to comment and let me know your thoughts!
View the other photos of the ‘From the Archives’ series.