WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHS BY HEIDI WOODMAN – http://www.heidiwoodman.com/
Shelter. A home. Beyond water and food it’s perhaps our most basic need.
For many of us, it’s hard to imagine not having somewhere to go back to at the end of a day. A safe place that protects us not only the elements but from those who may want to do us harm.
For many though this is far from reality.
In Nepal there are an estimated 5000-6000 street children, with approximately 2000 in Kathmandu alone. They are a widely misunderstood, much maligned and completely neglected part of Nepalese society. Regarded by many as a stain on the community and awarded no rights or support by law or in daily life.
There are no shortage of NGO’s and individuals wanting and trying to help these children however the problems are so complex that there is no quick fix, no one-size fits all remedy. Many fail to fully rehabilitate these children, not through lack of will or effort, but of true understanding of what these children have been through and the impact it has had on their mental, physical and emotional health.
There is a possible answer. People who are equipped to help these children fully transition to a life in regular society and willing to sacrifice the time and effort to make this a reality. Beyond food, shelter and access to schooling and support programs [all essential still of course] the missing link is often simply empathy and love.
This was the answer I was given when I asked the young man who inspired the amazing charity THE BIG UMBRELLA. Ramesh was sold to a restaurant at 4, by an unworthy and unloving mother. He had been on the streets 10 years when he encountered Justin (the founder of the Big Umbrella) and had met countless people who ‘wanted to help’. However when asked what was different with Justin he replied simply, ‘He was the first person to show me love’.
It is on this principle that THE BIG UMBRELLA was borne out of.
Their activities focus on issues impacting the marginalised and disenfranchised and those affected by human rights abuses, human trafficking, exploitation, forced labour and homelessness. Their work began with the street children of Kathmandu and has wielded extraordinary results, it’s this work and the joy it has spawned that I show here.
See full project here: http://www.heidiwoodman.com/to-have-a-home/