Through my eyes: Surabaya, Indonesia

Children capture their city, through their eyes

A workshop participant showing her photo to a subject on her camera
02 October 2019

Surabaya is a port city on the Indonesian island of Java. A vibrant, sprawling metropolis, it mixes modern skyscrapers with canals and buildings from its Dutch colonial past. It has a thriving Chinatown and an Arab Quarter.  

For locals, Surabaya is closely linked to the birth of the Indonesian nation, as it was here that the battle for independence captured the world’s attention. To them, Surabaya is Kota Pahlawan (City of Heroes). 



children playing in water


I spent some time watching the workers cleaning the beach, collecting rubbish and putting it away in garbage trucks. What is amazing is they do their work with so much enthusiasm and even give big smiles. That made us very happy too. 



beach cleaners cleaning the beach

I want to let people know that there are people who are concerned about the cleanliness of the beach and we must all participate in keeping beaches clean. It'll make children happy that we can play on clean beaches. 


Surabaya is densely populated. More people, more waste - that is the reality.

Inequality also thrives in big cities, and the underprivileged still find it hard to access clean water, and markets are the victims of rapid developments like shopping malls. It makes it harder to find customers.



A man looks on while sweeping the streets
A market seller tosses onions


But the spirit of sharing is also clear, with the city making sure that everyone can enjoy all facilities provided in public spaces, including free Wi-Fi.



A mother guides a child on a mobile phone

In my city you always see children playing, they like to play with their friends in parks. 

children eating a school


The atmosphere in the parks is very cool because we have lots of green trees. I took this photo to show that Surabaya children are happy to use the playground and they enjoy the greenery in the city.



children playing (two photos)

I took pictures of moms and their children in kampongs (urban villages) in the middle of the city. I can see how wonderful mothers are, even in the situation where they may have to work so hard to survive the Surabaya metropolis life.


Caring for their children is always a number one priority. And they look so sincere despite all what is going on in their minds. The children of Surabaya owe them so much. Moms are great.

A mother smiles with her two children
Panel of three photos of mothers with their children


The photographers


photo of the 20 photographers who participated