Madurai

Seeing harsh realities from a different angle

Photos clicked by children attending Dr. Ambedkar Free Evening Tuition Centre at Gomespalayam in Madurai was on display on Sunday.   | Photo Credit: R. Ashok

Sunday saw a steady stream of people visiting Gomespalayam near Arapalayam where a photo exhibition was going on.

The residents here are mostly conservancy workers or manual scavengers. Photographs clicked by their children which showed their parents at work were on display. The exhibition was organised by Dr. Ambedkar Free Evening Children’s Tuition Centre. A total of 180 photos clicked by 11 children were on display.

M. Palanikumar, a freelance photographer who focuses on manual scavenging, conducted free photography classes for the children for 15 days. “After the classes, the children were given DSLR cameras to document the lives of their parents at work,” he said.

R. Sankareswari, a resident of Gomespalayam who teaches free classes through the tuition centre, said the children learned more about their parents’ job through this activity. “They all woke up early and travelled to places where their parents collect garbage and clean septic tanks. They learnt how their parents work without proper safety gear. Two children even broke down when they were sharing their experiences,” she said.

“The activity will be helpful for the children - to understand the importance of education and not to be forced into the conservancy work, a job associated with our community,” she said.

New perspectives

Mr. Palanikumar said he learnt new perspectives from the photographs clicked by the children. “When I click pictures of manual scavengers, it is usually with sympathy. But the pictures clicked by these children show their way of life inside their small cramped houses,” he said.

He also highlighted that deaths due to manual scavenging was increasing and was often underreported.

A Akshaya Shri, a Class 11 student, said she learnt how difficult it was to be a conservancy worker. “Our parents work too hard every day to ensure that we get good education,” she said.

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Printable version | Apr 11, 2021 9:08:05 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/seeing-harsh-realities-from-a-different-angle/article33956474.ece

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