57 weeks ago, I was scrolling through my Instagram notifications.
I saw someone had liked a couple of my photos and when I visited her feed, I came across an adorable picture.
The picture was of a couple of kids holding cameras. There was something very striking about the photo. I saw a paragraph beneath it.
Curious, I read on.
After finishing reading it, I had a wide smile on my face. Perhaps not as radiant as the ones in the photo, but it had sure rubbed on to me as well.
I remembered the glee of holding my first digital camera.
The sheer excitement of capturing a moment and seeing how it had turned out on the screen. How a simple hobby had turned out to be therapeutic for me.
And here I saw what a boon it was to gift a hobby like this to kids.
I immediately messaged Vidu that I would love to spread word about this initiative.
On the parallel side, I ran to look for my first camera.
It lay on a deserted shelf, forgotten. As I swiped the dust off it, nostalgia engulfed me.
The memory of my first photo of a butterfly, camouflaged in flowers, danced before my eyes.
We can gift children toys for temporary engagement. We can gift them chocolates for sheer pleasure. But if we gift them a hobby, it stays with them for a lifetime, through thick and thin.
A hobby: Whether reading books, penning poetry or photography lasts for a long, long time and helps them in discovering themselves.
It took a week to search batteries, find a memory card, get the charger in place and ready the cam. The smile on my face was wider.
I wasn’t just giving away my camera, I was giving away a part of my childhood to another child, to brighten his/her childhood.
And that is when I met Vidu and realised we had met before.
I was awestruck at the coincidence. Vidu, was the judge of a photography competition, held in my college, which I had won. The competition had made me discover my latent talent and given me a boost to learn photography and experiment further. Vidu, had not only inspired the kids at Dharavi, but also me, 5 years ago.
Vidu Chandan, has been wholly committed to this cause of teaching photography to Dharavi kids. As I saw the Little Cameras project grow, I felt overwhelmed at her dedication.
Cameras started pouring in, workshops began in Dharavi and the children did a stellar job of clicking pictures.
Their perspectives were extremely creative and children as young as 8 were clicking jaw-dropping pictures with basic point and shoot cameras.
Thus proving that devices aren’t more important than perspectives.
There had to be a way to showcase this creativity and let the world know about the Little Cameras Project.
So at Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, Mumbai, I saw pictures of these little wonders exhibited proudly.
Magic was all around. These kids had created extraordinary photos with ordinary equipment.
These children were exposed to unclean surroundings and yet they found beauty in simple, mundane things by focusing on the brighter things in life.
How old, unused cameras were put to such a wonderful use and for such a profound cause!
All they needed was a little push, a little motivation and cameras that were stacked in cupboards, forgotten and gathering dust.
The Little cameras project is growing. Donors as young as Viva are donating their point and shoot cameras to these kids to see how they unfold the stories in their surroundings.
If you have a camera that you wish to donate, join in and share the love of photography. Gift something to these kids that no one can ever take away from them: the gift of expressing themselves through this wonderful hobby.
Vidu Chandan is an inspiration. The world needs more of her tribe to #spreadTheVibe. Hats off!
All photos used in the post are courtesy: The Little Cameras Project FB Page.
This post is written for Indiblogger’s #SpreadTheVibe campaign in association with Youth Ki Awaaz.