Sixteen-year-old Sonam Tamang's earliest memory of Kathmandu is of a city his mother abandoned him to eight years ago. "Ama poilo gayi" whimpered Sonam, remembering his mother who eloped with another man. The charity SathSath has taken up the cause of street children like Sonam, sheltered them, and now sponsored an exhibition of 15,000 photos they've taken called, 'My life, My vision', the culmination of three-years' effort by the group's Ben Gough. The pictures describe resilience and ambition.
And 17-year-old Saroj Gole, whose pictures are featured in the exhibition, lacks neither. Once a street kid, he now studies in grade 10, thanks to SathSath. His life's aim is to be a teacher for street children and a musician. His story is painfully familiar ? his parents died amid crippling poverty.
Fifteen-year-old Manish Raj Dhamala also studies in the 10th grade. His parents died from drug use. He has been with SathSath for two and a half years. Like Gole he has artistic ambitions. He wants to be a theatre actor so he can show that "life is full of joy and sorrow".
Sonam Tamang, now a fifth grader at Madhyanik Vidhyalaya, Bhimsengola after four years with SathSath, also vies to be a stage actor. And soon she, Manish and Saroj, will get a chance to test their theatrical mettle. With SathSath's support, they performed a drama called Dabiyako Awazharu in Dhading last week. The play will be performed at public dabalees in Kathamndu after which it will travel to Bhaktapur, Sindhupalchok all the way to Dolakha and then to Chitwan and Kaski.
Damned - FROM ISSUE #462 (31 JULY 2009 - 06 AUG 2009)