When I was looking around in a bookstore I came across the book Where Children Sleep by James Mollison. I am not very easily moved to the point of wanting to cry and holler at the same time, but this book absolutely– positively did the trick. I bought the book and showed it to my children. They were fascinated and I could not believe how much conversation and awareness this book brought to light.
In his book, Mollison has documented children and their bedrooms around the world. Mollison states “From the start, I didn’t want it just to be about ‘needy children’ in the developing world, but rather something more inclusive, about children from all types of situations. It seemed to make sense to photograph the children themselves, too, but separately from their bedrooms, using a neutral background. My thinking was that the bedroom pictures would be inscribed with the children’s material and cultural circumstances ‘ the details that inevitably mark people apart from each other ‘ while the children themselves would appear in the set of portraits as individuals, as equals ‘ just as children.”
Here are just a few pictures from his book. Mollison also describes each child’s situation. Alex, the 9-year-old above, sleeps outside on an empty bench or discarded sofa if he’s able to find one; otherwise, his bed is the pavement. Prena, a 14-year-old domestic worker who works 13-hour days, earns about $6.50 a month for her efforts and sleeps in a tiny, cell-like space. Despite that, she does manage to go to school three days a week, and she dreams of being a doctor when she grows up.
Where Children Sleep = Social Inequality. Children are not to be blamed for their surroundings – they are born into certain situations. How can we make it more equal?