Uma em cada seis pessoas no mundo vive com 1$ por dia.
A ONG Forgotten International lançou uma campanha que visa o problema da disparidade de riqueza mundial.
Thomas A. Nazario, fundador e presidente da ONG, e a foto-jornalista vencedora de um Pullitzer Renée C. Byer, viajaram por quatro continentes, recolhendo imagens e entrevistas. O resultado é um livro, Living on a Dollar a Day: The Lives and Faces of the World’s Poor.
É facílimo olhar para estas imagens como se não fossem reais, mais são-no. Isto existe. O maior desafio é estabelecer essa ligação, para que as pessoas entendam que morrem 18 mil crianças por dia, com menos de 5 anos, de causas evitáveis.
Renée C. Byer
Entrevista de Renée C. Byer à National Geographic:
BECKY HARLAN: Renée, tell me about your new book, Living on a Dollar a Day. How did you get involved with this huge project?
RENÉE C. BYER: The Forgotten International, a San Francisco-based non-profit, was seeking a photojournalist to work on the book. They focus on programs in the U.S. and worldwide that alleviate poverty and the suffering it brings, especially for women and children. I’m pretty well known for working on projects that shine a light on people who are suffering. People who may not have the ability to illuminate those issues themselves. So this was a dream assignment, frankly. The first thing I had to do, though, was to spend a few months figuring out how to carve out some time from working atThe Sacramento Bee where I’m a Senior Photojournalist.
BECKY: When you were working on your Pulitzer Prize-winning photo essay, A Mother’s Journey, which chronicles the relationship between a mother and her son as he struggled with Neuroblastoma, you clearly spent a lot of time with the family. How did you deal with working on Living on a Dollar a Day, a project where you spent a little time with a lot of different people?
RENÉE: You know, for me, spending time with my subjects is very important to make that intimate connection. When covering out-of-the country assignments, there are a lot of different variables, so first, depending on the countries, you might need an interpreter, security, a driver, a social worker, so it’s more difficult to get that one-on-one connection that you might get in the U.S. Your most important connection is with your helper, making them understand what you’re doing as a photojournalist. Working on A Mother’s Journey was actually very important to this because I could show the people I was working with that body of work and then they would understand what I was trying to accomplish.
BECKY: So it’s still about connecting with people, but it’s about connecting with the people who are helping you connect to your subjects?
RENÉE: Yes, you’re still having to do it, but now you’re having to do it to educate the people in the country who are helping you. You can’t assume that they know what photojournalism is, so you’re having to explain storytelling. You have to start from the ground up. As I gained images and stories while I was working in different countries, I would show them those stories as well. Just like the story [from Living On A Dollar A Day] on Jestina Koko, that was where I had shown my previous work from other countries, and then the fixer saw what I was really trying to do and they said, “Oh we have this case scenario,” and they connected me to Jestina.
BECKY: Tell me about Jestina’s story.
RENÉE: She can’t walk, and so she drags herself about her home. Well she’s actually squatting in someone else’s home. They’re allowing her to sleep in this hallway with her child. I remember that her only hopes and dreams were first, to get herself a place, a little apartment or room that she and her daughter could live in so she wasn’t in this trafficky area in this other place, and also that her little girl could go to school. This is a great example of where a child is not able to go to school because she’s needed to help her mother. Her mother doesn’t have enough money to put her in school. The cycle for her is very grim. Everything is about getting from today to tomorrow. If it wasn’t for the good will of a neighbor she would be sleeping outside.
Jestina has struggled with this disability since the age of three. So she’s living and begging on the sides of the street. When it’s raining she can’t drag herself out, so she has to work really hard on days when the weather is nice to make up for that. She does laundry for other families, she makes cookies to try and sell, you can see how hard working she is. You see this in almost every country. Nobody is lacking the will to work, they just need a little bit of extra help to get out of the poverty cycle.
BECKY: You’re known for capturing really intimate, relational moments in your photo essays. Tell me about that.
RENÉE: Whether the story is done in the U.S. or abroad, the most important thing is to let it unfold on its own. Time and access are the essence of compelling photojournalism. I have this innate curiosity that drives me beyond the obvious. For me it’s very important to go behind the scenes and into their home to find pieces of daily life that everyone can relate to. So people aren’t seeing a photo that will push them away, but will pull them back into the scene. So they’re not being overwhelmed by the emotion, but they’re able to relate to the emotion. So that they can imagine themselves trying to live this life, and in some way, hopefully, they could help.
For instance, we were at a slum in Delhi, and I see this little boy scavenging in this horrible garbage wasteland. He’s got bare hands, no protective clothing. He’s wearing flip flops, I think. And he’s looking for a few rags to sell as material to earn some money for his family. I’m standing there in insufferable heat, my shoes are literally melting it’s so hot, and all I’m thinking about, focusing on, is how can I tell this story about this little boy? No one else can smell this terrible smell that I’m smelling, nobody can feel this intense heat, nobody can imagine this wasteland that I’m standing in. How can I give this justice in a photograph? That’s what’s going on in my head. I’m trying very hard in my head to translate that to someone who has never been there. Later on, I went inside his family’s home. I had no idea what the inside of any of these places was like, so I was just stunned that it was this one tiny 10’ x10’ room with just a bed. That was their entire living space. And these boys just started playing on the bed. It was such a beautiful slice of life. It’s one of those moments that’s so unexpected that you just feel privileged to be witness of. To me it was such an interesting dichotomy between this child and his determination to try to find something to help his family survive and then later in the day having him play in this very childlike way on the bed with his brothers, and it was this range of emotion which is so important in this kind of work. It shows how the human spirit can transcend even the worst deprivation.