The Manali Model School was a project I undertook during the 2009 Foundry Photojournalism Workshop after making a difficult but necessary decision to abandon my initial project at the Lady Willingdon Hospital despite having done extensive research and obtaining the appropriate approvals from the hospital authorities and their Board.
Having volunteered with the Malaysian AIDS Foundation for the entire year in 2009 – working on a highly sensitive project and advocating the rights of the people we were photographing – my principles would not allow me to stick yet another camera lens into another person’s face at the hospital, since 6 over zealous and ambitious (what we sum up accurately as “kiasu” in Malaysia and Singapore) budding photojournalist had been there; some as early as 14 days before the commencement of the workshop.
Facing some further issues (1) time – late start and falling ill at the end of the workshop, and (2) personal issues of integrity and ‘personalities’, on what should have been a rather subdued subject / photo story, I had an overall average working experience with the Manali Model School and thus, had not put much effort or after thought to it.
But as if the story had a purpose and life on its own, the Manali Model School photos and story refuses to take a back seat! 9 months since … Raju-ji was called by CNN-IBN Delhi’s office for their HEROs show, the Photo Philanthropy Organization requested to use one of the photos for their promotional postcards, and private funds had ensued.
Though I’ve put together a simple multimedia (attached below) and written a piece on it in Penelope Gan | Photo Blog (read HERE) as well as on Photo Philanthropy‘s site (click HERE), I would like to emphasize (in my books at least) that the Raju-ji story is just another typical story that represents one of the hundreds of thousands of schools in India that lacks funding, facilities and equipped teaching resources. It gets worse in some parts of India as written by a journo-friend Arijit Sen in his blog “Report Card“.