SOS CHILDREN’S VILLAGES
Eight thousand miles of planes, trains and automobiles and I was back in the Philippines after five long years. My task was to visit and photograph the children at two SOS Children’s Villages, the first in Cebu and the second in Davao. I had no idea what to expect and as I walked through the main gates I realized that once again the camera, that little box with a piece of glass stuck on the front, had taken me to another place that I would never experience otherwise. It’s the best part of being a photographer and I’m so grateful for it. It’s been an honour and a privilege to have shot some of the things I have, and standing at those gates, I knew I was about to embark on something very special.
SOS is an organization that gives homes to orphaned and underprivileged kids in some of the world’s poorest countries. They build villages with homes for these children, look after and educate them until they are ready to go out into the world and have careers and families of their own. Each house has a mother (Nanay) who looks after the children that live there (sometimes as many as 14). There are eight children’s Villages in Philippines and I wish I could have visited them all.
At SOS Cebu I met kids as young as five years old all the way up to teenagers. My guide for the day was Migueliza (known as Megs) and I couldn’t have wished for anyone more helpful. The children were all so friendly and I got the feeling they really enjoy having visitors in their village. There were smiles and tears and the children asked me as many questions as I asked them. I’m glad to say the experience has been etched inside my head.
I used the time during the flight from Cebu to Davao to select and edit some of the photos I had shot. I was happy with the results, but decided to do more portraits of the children of SOS Davao. There's a lot going on in the eyes of these kids and I needed to capture as much as possible.
Due to my schedule, I could only visit on a school day, so I wasn't able to arrive as early as I would have liked. I shot around the village for a while, just wandering and talking to the kids doing their chores or playing outside. Knocking on doors and going inside, hoping to find a fan to cool down. But it was after school and I knew I had limited time before the light went. I shot mostly outside and started to pick up a posse of the younger kids as I moved around, a few of them demanding I take their photo every minute or two (which I did). A small boy climbed on to my camera bag (which was hanging on my shoulder) and I had no chance of persuading him otherwise. It was hot and humid and the extra weight reminded me how a DSLR kid would have felt and I was thankful for my small Fuji X cameras. I held out as long as possible, but in the end my shoulder faded as fast as the light. I knew I had enough, but I wished I could have had one more day...at least.
SOS Children's Villages are active in 133 countries and territories. They give homes to children who have no parents or who's parents are unable to look after them properly. They give children, like the ones you see here, good homes and a family life. Possibilities and dreams for the future are suddenly a reality for kids that otherwise would have very few chances in life.