|In this photo by Damiao Victorino, an orphaned boy named Antonio looks at some mementos of the family life he once had, including photos of his family when they were all alive and together.|
By Thierry Delvigne-Jean
MAPUTO, Mozambique, 14 July 2008 – Last year, 21 children aged 11 through 17 took to the streets of Maputo with cameras to document their lives and their communities. Over the course of two weeks, with help from a team of professional photographers, they opened the doors of their homes and learned how to tell their stories through the camera’s lens.
The resulting exhibition, entitled ‘The House is Small but the Welcome is Big’, has just opened here. It puts the children’s photos on display as part of a social art initiative organized by the US-based organization Venice Arts, UNICEF and other partners.
The photo project, which aims to explore the impact of AIDS on various communities as experienced through the eyes of children, will travel to New York City in the fall. The project brought together 15 orphaned children and 16 activists who are already working to address social and public health issues in their communities – as radio and TV producers, actors in community theatre groups or peer counsellors in youth-friendly health centres.
|Joaquim Alberto Macamo says about his photo: “These are photographs of my family, which reveal their past.”|
Promoting children’s rights
“These are photographs of my family, which reveal their past,” said Joaquim Alberto Macamo, a 16-year-old participant. “They represent the lives of my parents, and that makes me happy.”
The debut of this exhibition marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recognizes that basic rights and fundamental freedoms are inherent to all human beings, inalienable and equally applicable to everyone.
Of course, children also have a human rights declaration of their own. The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) was ratified by Mozambique in 1994. Since then, significant steps have been taken to improve the legal framework for the protection of child rights in the country.
A positive contribution
“Children have the right to express their views and to participate in decisions that affect their lives,” said UNICEF Representative in Mozambique Leila Gharagozolo Pakkala. “They have ideas, experience and insights that enrich our understanding of the world and the problems we face.”
One recent achievement in this regard was the approval of the Children’s Act, which reflects a renewed commitment to realizing children’s rights in accordance with the principles of the CRC. UNICEF believes the new legislation will strengthen the legal and protective environment for Mozambican children, including victims of trafficking and abuse. It serves as a basis to guide the actions of the government, its partners and others working on behalf of children.
Meanwhile, the photographs in ‘The House is Small but the Welcome is Big’ exhibit are proof that children themselves can enrich adults’ understanding of their lives and make a positive contribution to society.
‘The House is Small But the Welcome is Big’ exhibition website
(external link, opens in a new window)