Venezuela: How Children Show Their Community Through Photography II

Counting the consequences for the victims of the armed conflict in Colombia can be extremely difficult. Survivors and refugees have had to run from their own land and cross the Venezuelan border in order to guarantee security for their families. However, even then, the situation often does not get much better. Immigration problems, unemployment, poverty and other forms of insecurity have hurt the quality of life for these families.

Within these communities, children can often be the most vulnerable, yet they have immense potential to grow. The group Ancla2, which has been featured on Global Voices last year, recognized this opportunity and gave a workshop to a group of refugee children in a town called El Nula located along the Venezuelan-Colombian border. The beautiful landscapes of the region were the backdrop for the workshop, which taught the children how to approach and appreciate the details of daily live and to have a sense a community. They communicated this through the use of photography and creative writing.

Thus, the blog El Nula por la Paz [es] shows the experience and the results of these workshops telling the story of a community often ignored by the mainstream media. As the site's description reads:

Detrás de las hermosas formaciones geográficas que se observan desde que se entra a El Nula, se crean una serie de preguntas, ya que la imagen que se tiene desde la capital y otras provincias venezolanas no es muy positiva del todo, ¿cómo vive la gente del pueblo?, ¿por qué esa imagen negativa de sus habitantes?, ¿cómo se entretienen los niños?, ¿cuáles son las ventajas de sobrevivir en esta controversial población?

Por medio de la fotografía y la redacción de algunos textos que acompañan a las fotos podemos notar como los niños van más allá de lo que comúnmente puede verse en el pueblo, pues el contacto humano y la querencia de un pueblo en paz nos sirve para darnos cuenta en cómo la luz de sus miradas traducen el universo ideal que está dentro de sus visiones futuras.

Behind these beautiful geographic shapes that can be seen as soon as one enters El Nula some questions come to mind, since the image that people from the big cities have is not always the best. How do people from this town live? Why do they have this negative image of their residents? How do kids pass their time here? What are the strategies of survival among this controversial population?

Through photography and accompanying text, we can see how children go beyond of what is commonly seen in the town. The human contact and the love of a peaceful people is good to make us realize how the light in children’s eyes can translate the ideal universe that exists within their future visions.

Some of the workshop's participants are featured on the blog. Cleida, 13, chooses to photograph and to write about the cows she sees around her community [es]:

Photo by Cleida and used with permission

Photo by Cleida and used with permission

Yo voy a escribir sobre las vacas. Las vacas dan leche y de la vaca que estoy escribiendo la vi cuando íbamos para La Playita y la vaca tenía un becerrito recién nacido, y un perro se estaba comiendo la placenta de la vaca. Le tomé la foto y nos fuimos del lugar donde estaba la vaca y el becerro, y me gustó ver el becerrito tan lindo que tenía.

I’m going to write about the cows. Cows give milk, and I saw this cow that I am writing about when we were on our way to La Playita. The cow had a newborn baby and a dog was eating the cow’s placenta. I took a picture and then we went to the place where this cow was, and I loved seeing its beautiful little calf.

Fourteen-year-old Álvaro took a picture of his mom and titled the post “my mom is like a rose [es]”:

Photo by Álvaro and used with permission

Photo by Álvaro and used with permission

La foto la tomé porque es mi mamá y porque yo la quiero mucho. La otra foto se la tomé a mi vecina porque es muy amable con las personas y le enseña a los de tercera edad y a los niños, por eso me gusta tomarle a mi mamá a la vecina y a los animales, a las cosas, y a las personas que fueron para el curso de fotos. Al profesor Álvaro y a las personas de la calle y a los conocidos, a Ingrid. La foto que más me gustó fue la de mi mamá y la de Ingrid.

I took this picture because she’s my mom and I love her very much. The other picture I took was of our neighbour because she’s very kind to all people and she teaches senior citizens and children. I like to take pictures of my mom, the neighbours, the animals and other things, and also of people that went to the workshops. I took pictures of our teacher, Álvaro, of people in the street, people I know. The picture I liked the most was that of my mom and Ingrid.
Photo by Ancla2 and used with permission.

Photo by Ancla2 and used with permission.

The project also attracted admiration from others in the citizen media community. David Sasaki, published a post about this project that adds more context about the ongoing conflict and the refugees:

What I love about this project is that it doesn’t just represent El Nula as a war zone like every other reference to the community that you’ll find online. No, it shows El Nula through the eyes of those who live there. When tragedy hits next then the young people of El Nula will know how to use online tools to spread awareness and seek help. But until then, they also know how to spread awareness about all the good in their lives as well.

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