Foyer Schauspielhaus |
Transformations from Pain to Power
Girls and Women in the Care of Sanlaap Kolkata
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ACHINTO
The women and girls in these photographs are the victims of neglect, human trafficking and rape. Others are the children of prostitutes. They live together in a home run by “Sanlaap”, a nongovernmental organization which runs a total of four such homes in the outskirts of Kolkata.
Documentary photographer Achinto Bhadra worked with 126 children and young women between the ages of 8 and 25 over several months. Harleen Walia, a therapist, assisted him in his work by providing psychological care for these people. Terre des hommes Foundation (Lausanne / Switzerland) has implemented this project through its office in Kathmandu, Nepal, by providing funds, support and expertise to its partner Sanlaap and the photographer Achinto.
In “Another Me”, each of the women tells their personal story of a lost childhood, abuse and deception, kidnapping, human trafficking and the slavery endured in the brothel. At the same time, these stories convey their vulnerability, dreams and desires. They yearn to find love, independence, power, energy and joy in their lives. Some of the women and children specifically wanted the “entire world” to hear about their fate.
After talking to these young women, the photographer and therapist helped to transform them into the people they wished to be. They bought scarves, jewelry, old saris and everyday items for the girls and women to choose from, allowing them to take on a different identity. They helped each other get dressed and put on makeup for the photo shoot.
A hush fell over the photo studio as the women transformed into their “other” selves. The only sound came from the photographer as he quietly gave the women their instructions. Each of the women was able to sense their own sense of power, making this a significant moment in their lives beyond the project itself. The women were able to experience trust while also gaining a new perception and appreciation for themselves. Months later, the photography project “Another Me” serves as a reminder for these women and girls, a source of power and self-confidence.
Achinto Bhadra studied photography in Kolkata and London. The freelance photographer has taken pictures of poor and disenfranchised women and children for national and international developmental projects over the last several years.