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Working children tell their stories through photos

Inauguration of ‘Living in the Urban Jungle’, an exhibition showing photos by working children

Dhaka, 25 October 2010 – UNICEF in partnership with Drik Picture Library today launched a photo exhibition, Living in the Urban Jungle - a photographic perspective of working children in Bangladesh at Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel, Dhaka. The photos are the works of twenty children living or working on the streets, who are being supported by UNICEF in cooperation with the NGOs Padakhep Manabik Unnayan Kendra and Aparajeyo-Bangladesh. The photos also feature in a book which was launched at the same occasion.

The exhibition was inaugurated Carel de Rooy, Representative of UNICEF Bangladesh, Shahidul Alam, Principal Pathshala – South Asian Institute of Photography and head of the curatorial team of the exhibition, and Per Erik Hylland, Country Manager, Telenor Bangladesh. The twenty young photographers also attended the event. 

The aim of this unique initiative was to inspire working children, living in Dhaka and Barisal, to tell their own stories through the use of photography. The exhibition is also part of campaign against child labour in order to combat social acceptance of this phenomenon, funded by Telenor through UNICEF national Committee in Norway.

“These children are often treated as the dregs of society. UNICEF believes that the first step toward changing common views about working children, is to give those  children a chance to express themselves in the public sphere; to have their feelings, ideas and creativity understood and appreciated’, said Carel de Rooy,UNICEF Representative. ‘This is also part of our commitment to uphold article 12 of the Convention on the Right of the Child:  the right for children to participate and express their views.”

The exhibition is the result of a two-month project. Twenty young people, aged 12 to 16, received a five-day photographic training course and were given a digital camera for a week. During this one week, they took more than 27,000 pictures. Later on, they were fully involved in selecting, editing and writing the captions of the images.

The photo exhibition shows scenes of the ‘urban jungle’ – images from the streets, children living in harsh conditions, children forced to work. It gives an insight into the life of these children and into their inner world; their joys, their pains, their dreams. Many children went back to places where they spent difficult time during their childhood. For example, Shahin went back to Karwanbazar where he spent two months begging after running away from the house where he was employed as a child domestic. 

Shahidul Alam, head of the curatorial team of the exhibition, was impressed by the quality of the pictures: “The images they produced are as strong as their spirits’, he said. ‘They show a real maturity and artistic sense. The children roamed familiar territory - with real journalistic skills - to capture unique, symbolic and often intimate moments. Free from the aesthetic leanings of conventional education, some children have a freedom that their ‘well brought up’ counterparts have long lost. It’s a contagious spontaneity.’

All the participants in this project are beneficiaries of UNICEF-supported Protection of Children at Risk project, implemented under the Ministry of Social Welfare, Department of Social Services, UNICEF is working to protect and assist these children through the Protection of Children at Risk (PCAR) Project.

After the launch in Dhaka the exhibition will be shown at Drik Gallery till the 1st of November. It will then travel to Barisal where it will be inaugurated on the 5th of November. The photo exhibition will also tour some parts of Dhaka with a mobile version mounted on rickshaw van. In Barisal, the mobile exhibition will be mounted on country boats.

The launch was also streamed live on the web at The website also has an image gallery and project details. A photo essay will be available on on Tuesday 26 October.

Exhibition details:

Dhaka: Drik Gallery, Dhanmondi, 26 October - 1 Novemberr, 3-8pm everyday

Barisal: Ashwini Kumar Hall, Sadar Road, 5-12 November, 3-9pm everyday

For more information, please contact:
  • Christine Jaulmes, UNICEF Chief Communication, e-mail: ; tel: 9336701
  • A.S.M. Rezaur Rahman, General Manager, Drik Picutre Library Ltd., e-mail:; tel: 8112954, 9120125, 8123412, mobile: +88 01819226294




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