Today we went to Sulukule to give back photos and a thank you poster (a few alternate images of sulukule). Though not many adults participated in the workshops, the kids did, and in the last three weeks they have become our friends, guides, bodyguards, teachers...They have been inspiring and I hope we were for them as well. One thing is clear, it's a long process. We have made a dent.
It took us some time to earn their trust as a class, we worked with them for three weeks. We never photographed initally without their permission and only did for our mapping excersises. As they felt more comfortable, we photographed more. Don't get me wrong...some loved to be photographed, but we had to be aware, since we were expected to bring the pics the next time we visited.
Our work is based on a participatory process, we want to plan with the community and have them make decisions for their place. So the whole us and them thing has to turn into a we for a bit. Once their organized, it's their work. The process varies from place to place- I'm still figuring it out. Though in text it may seem like a simple, straightforward process, it's not. It's kind of nonlinear and varies. You may think you know what it is, but does take time to understand it fully-I've been studying it quite intensely for six months now. I think one must be wary of preaching it, especially if they have never practiced or experienced it.
It may be that since we are foreigners, Sulukule was more welcoming towards us. The area has been the focus of some media hype where many people are curious to see how they live- take photos of them, write a bit about what they saw, publish their work and feel merry. They are treated like objects and I believe they should be offended at times. How can you trust these people? Why should you let them in your community? Sometimes people take advantage of the trust you have earned. How do we know when to trust? Trust, though a simple concept, is different story in practice- kind of like the participatory approach.-Meghna