24-year old Haran Kumar is a freelance photographer for the Times of India. What is perhaps less known about his life is the story of his rise from a boy living on the streets to an internationally acclaimed lensman.
Teneshia Naidoo narrates this for us in The Times here. Haran Kumar had fled his hometown in West Bengal at the age of 11, and came to Delhi with 20 rupees in his pocket, to find home with hundreds of other children on the streets. Says Kumar:
“I had many educational problems. I was really bad at studying and I had been bunking school for a month. When the school sent a letter to my parents, I knew I had to take a chance and run away, because I was so afraid of my father and I knew he would beat me.”
“Life was hard. During the evenings, I would try to sleep in a train, but sometimes police would come and beat us up for being on the train.”
After some time, Kumar was noticed by a staff member of Salaam Balak Trust, an NGO that offers shelter to street children. With the help of this NGO, Kumar was able to rebuild his life. He began going to school again and actually started performing well.
He discovered his talent and love for photography at a workshop, where he excelled at his chosen subject: shooting street children. He had an unusual flair for depicting these children as happy and full of life, unlike the usual attempts to bring out their misery. This got him a lot of recognition, and he has an exhibition lined up from September 5 to October 5, 2008 at the Sandton Art Centre. Anyone living in South Africa would no doubt love to check it out.
While on this story, do see this interesting project that Salaam Balak Trust has started to sensitize people to the lives of street children. People in Delhi can participate in a City Walk, the details of which you can find here, and learn about the city, its heritage, its stories and its people from the youngsters who know it best!