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Children prove photography not just a passion for adults

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Anjali kids review their work with photographer Tanzim Wahad. 
Photo by: Nicky McGavin

Round-up of today’s events
Children’s Day at 5pm
Venue: Garden of Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor

Featuring slide shows especially for the young and the young at heart,
as well as photographs by the children from this year’s Anjali Photo Workshops for kids of Anjali House

Photography isn’t just for grown-ups, and the children from Anjali House have made this point very well.

They’ll be showing off their work tonight at the Children’s Day exhibition, which opens in the Raffles Angkor Gardens at 5pm. The double exhibition will show what they created during a special project with British demining NGO The Halo Trust, and work by Try Sophal, one of the rising stars at Anjali.

The evening will also include a special slide show and readings by the children.

Anjali House is a local NGO that was founded by the Angkor Photo Festival as part of its mission in 2005. It’s a non-residential shelter that provides education, health care and family support for 110 children from Siem Reap.

Anjali works to keep kids off the streets by helping their families to send them to school and supplementing what they learn there.

A structured academic program that includes geography, science, maths, history, English and Khmer is supported by a broad arts program, especially photography.

It was Magnum photographer Antoine D’Agato who first had the idea to set up  workshops for the Anjali kids in 2005.

They’ve run every year since, building the children’s skills and, just as important, their self-confidence.

Meeting young Vorng Pech, whose work was shown at this year’s Festival opening night at the FCC, showed just how much this project can bring to the kids. He shone with pride and happiness at seeing his work being appreciated by such a large crowd.

The focus of this year’s exhibition is The Halo Trust Project, but there’ll also be a series of photographs taken by Try Sophal that focuses on  temples and portraits.

“She takes wonderful portraits, and really sees into the heart of people,”  festival program director Francoise Callier says.

Sophal, 21, has already won a national award for her work and is delighted (and a little bit nervous) about a job offer she recently received.

The Halo Trust was so impressed with her work that it offered to hire her. She begins at the end of this month as a photographer and surveyor for the organisation.

As well as the exhibitions, there will be a selection of slide shows curated by Callier showing the results of workshops led by Sohrab Hura.

“Sohrab is a very talented young Indian photographer”, Callier says, “and they’ve been taking fantastic photos this year.”

Callier herself, when not organising the festival, takes the kids out on informal workshops during the year.

“I sometimes go with the kids when I don’t have too much to do. I enjoy it. I love the kids, and I love photography. It’s wonderful to watch them learn and grow”.

Anjali House director Sam Flint, agrees. “Their self-confidence is really boosted by the workshops and events like this. They receive validation and are appreciated in ways they don’t always get at home.

“It also broadens their horizons in interesting ways, giving them the confidence to go up to people and talk to them, and to meet people they wouldn’t normally meet.”

Flint is excited about a magazine the kids have produced that marries their photography work with the results of some creative writing classes the kids have been taking.

“It’s really nice that the kids can create a complete product with their own work.”

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