Life in Southern India; Build a school and inspire a community.

children's poverty relief in India by Ron B. Wilson

A few years ago I experienced an adventure which took me throughout the entire country of India. The main reason for my trip was to help document a friend’s work, Tamara, who was in charge of building a school in the southern region of this vast country. This would become my first non-profit photography project; my life would forever be changed.

I met Tamara on a plane one day when she mentioned to me that she was preparing for her next trip over to India to continue building a school for underprivileged children. Once she showed me a few photos on her phone that she had taken on a previous visit I was immediately sold! We didn’t see each other again until she was meeting me at the Goa airport many months later. This was my first time in India, and I was so excited to be there to experience this wondrous place first-hand. Once I got used to the crowded streets, bumpy roads, and honking car horns, I settled in for the 4-hour car ride on the winding roads from the airport to our location. I was so thrilled that I hung out of the window with my camera part of the way taking photos, I didn’t want to forget the captivating scenery I was experiencing.

Most of the people in the area where we were working have their roots in Africa. Although poverty is everywhere in India, many in this community suffer more than the average Indian. School in most cases is not even available.


The school was being built to support the local villagers who otherwise would not have a place to learn and study. At the time I was there, they were just starting the foundation, so I am anxious to return someday to see it all completed, and to experience the facility in full action! The name of Tamara’s NGO was Children’s Poverty Relief, and although she is no longer involved with it, the solid foundation (literally) she set for getting this school built was genuinely educative and humanizing for me. All of the local people pitched in to help move the building materials to the site of the school. Men, women and children proudly carried pails of sand, rocks, cement and other building materials knowing that their hard work would all pay off the day the school doors opened.

Women, along with men, were doing labor to support their families. Kids gathered as if it was their favorite sport watching the men and women toiling around the construction site. During our trip, we found out that according to a current survey conducted in 800 Government Schools across thirteen Indian States key facilities such as wash rooms and drinking water were not available in many schools or were in poor condition. The report further depicts that some government schools had no playgrounds, and some schools even had no toilets, and some girls dropped out of school for these reasons. Due to all these issues, we wanted to build a school with facilities for the poor and needy people who wanted a bright future for their children.

Poverty and lack of social security are the leading causes of child labor. Lack of quality universal education has also contributed to children dropping out of school and entering the labor force. A major issue is that the real number of child laborers may not be accurately detected. Laws that are meant to protect children from hazardous labor are ineffective and not implemented correctly. Poverty puts a large number of children at risk who are doing labor jobs in the country. Lack of availability of basics such as shelter, food, and clothing are the fundamental reason for poor health and nutrition, child labor, child marriage, and other issues. It amplifies the social, economic, cultural, and gender differences already existing in the society. Poverty fundamentally threatens every child’s right: survival, development, and protection. In many cases, poverty is inherited from parents to children as poor children grow up to be poor adults who then pay the debts of their parents their whole life.

I was struck by the colorful yet heavily-used clothing of the children around the area as they posed for me behind a pile of sticks on a hill, as their mother looked on with hope that my photographs might help their community thrive. In fact, whenever a foreigner came to their area, they developed a desire for a bright future for their children. Children looked at me with imploring eyes as they were hoping for better education, food, clothing, and other necessities for their lives. Older women with wrinkled faces and work-worn hands were still hoping for a good future for their grandchildren.

With the help of international volunteers, the people of this region now have a chance to change the direction of their lives. I am so honored to have been a part, however small, of this project. I was only there for two weeks but left with the feeling that I wanted to return someday. The children I met are probably teenagers now and may be adults when I see them again. Helping communities like these lift up the entire planet. We take education for granted in the western world, and it is important to remember that not everyone has the chance as we do to learn.

This trip guided me in my quest for doing work to help others. I will never forget the opportunity.


*****ABOUT RON*****

After spending the past 20 years founding and working with some of the best and busiest wedding photography studios in the U.S. and photographing over 500 weddings around the globe, Ron B. Wilson has reconnected with his true passions: travel, men’s street style, and fine-art photography. So starting “Art, Style, Flow”, a travel inspiration blog and online magazine featuring his photography, was a natural process and has been a work in progress for the past 20 years.

New York City and Miami Photographer Ron B. Wilson specializes in an award winning fashion based documentary style of photography. Ron was recently featured in Professional Photographer Magazine with an article about the {revisited} sessions that he created, and over the past few years he has been honored with many awards at the WPPI and PPA’s Imaging USA Conferences.

Ron’s primary goal is to tell stories with images and to bring out the very best in every detail of each subject he photographs. He is available for fashion, advertising, travel and editorial assignments.

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