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Isolated island kids tell vivid stories with pictures

Update: October, 28/2005 - 00:00

Isolated island kids tell vivid stories with pictures

(28-10-2005)

A thousand words: A picture by 10-year-old Dinh Thi Diem Trinh is among those on display at the exhibition.

HA NOI — Visitors gather around a series of colour photos pasted on the side of plastic boxes filled with water. They listen to the stories of children living on the isolated islands of Diep Son and Ninh Tan in the central coast province of Khanh Hoa, as part of an exhibition entitled Water Droplets.

More than 100 photos and pictures were created by 46 primary-school children, aged from 8-14, as part of the two-month Support to Marine Aquaculture (SUMA) project. The children were given cameras and crayons and told to capture their dreams and desires.

"My visits to the islands have changed my view about the range of lifestyles in Viet Nam. The islands are only a few kilometres from the mainland but the value placed on time, access to information and belief is worlds apart," said Tran Luong, one of two visual artists who ran the project on the islands.

"I found that children on the islands were suffering from serious disadvantages: lack of information and education and poor living conditions. Their ability to express themselves both verbally and in writing is very limited. When they were given the tools to show their artistic ability, love and knowledge, it became obvious to me that they are innately excellent children – pure and honest with dreams of brighter future," he added.

"The photos on display are some of the most natural and vivid images I’ve ever seen," a 74-year-old visitor to the exhibition said.

Besides taking the photos, the children were asked to talk about what they shot.

"I don’t know why I took all the photos on an angle, but I found it quite interesting. Perhaps I had seen it somewhere before. I will hang the photos of my mom standing next to the boat, of our garden and of the pier in Diep Son on my wall after the exhibition is finished," nine-year-old Pham Thi Hong Ngan said.

The character of children was not only reflected in their photos but also in their words. "Without these photos, I wouldn’t have known how beautiful the scenes of my house looking out to sea and the boat carrying straw from the mainland so that we can feed the cows are. I also took a photo of Cuc whom I feel pity for, I often take her to bathe in the sea," 11-year-old Pham Thi Phuong said.

Water Droplets is the result of SUMA’s "photovoice" project, which is co-funded by the Ministry of Fisheries and the Danish International Development Assistance (Danida).

"Photovoice" was conceived by Caroline C Wang and Mary Ann Burris in the early 1990s. Essentially the process involves "the possibility of perceiving the world from the viewpoint of people who lead lives that are different from those traditionally in control of the means for creating images of the world".

Through the project, SUMA wants to find out children’s thinking, desires and hopes, to know if they want to stay on the islands to contribute to the development of their homeland or go elsewhere in search of a better life and to understand what they think about their life and their family’s life.

Water Droplets, which includes 50 installations symbolising water droplets and the soul of the children, runs until next Monday at Exhibition House 29 Hang Bai Street, Ha Noi. — VNS

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