Romanian teens use photography to expose human trafficking

by World Vision - MEERO | World Vision Middle East/Eastern Europe/ CA office
Thursday, 16 December 2010 12:50 GMT

* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Teenagers from rural areas in Iasi County, north eastern Romania chose to celebrate Human Rights Day by sharing their views on human trafficking with their peers, teachers, families and World Vision Romania staff. Looking for new and interesting ways to express themselves, the 10 teenagers chose photography as a medium and put together an exhibition of 35 impressive photographs. 'The exhibition talks about how vulnerable children in rural Romania are, about how it feels to be a teenager in Romania and also about what human trafficking means. We chose human trafficking as the theme for our photos because of our involvement as volunteers in World Vision Romania's anti-trafficking projects. It was a wonderful experience, I personally learned a lot and I will always take part in such initiatives', said 17-year-old Ana Maria M. In Romania, children and youth from broken homes, young girls from poor rural areas, teenagers graduating vocational schools and young people from institutions are at high risk of being trafficked. Youth in rural areas remain the most vulnerable, because they lack the economic opportunities that may be found in towns and cities. Ana Maria and her peers - aged between 15 and 19 - are all beneficiaries of the Community Development Project or Scholarship Project developed by World Vision Romania in Iasi. During the workshop, they had the opportunity to develop new skills and learn more about photography while better understanding what advocacy means and how it can be used to create awareness on specific problems that their communities are facing. The photographs were taken during a ten-day workshop session organised by World Vision Romania in partnership with the UK charity PhotoVoice, in the fall. The workshops focused on introducing the participants to the art of photography and, more importantly, to advocacy photography. Seven of the ten participants are also beneficiaries of a scholarship project developed by World Vision Romania in five rural communities from Iasi County and all ten of them were involved in different World Vision projects, as volunteers. PhotoVoice seeks to bring about positive social change in marginalised and minority communities by providing photographic training through which project participants can advocate and improve the quality of their lives. The exhibition is being hosted by the County School Inspectorate in Iasi and will stay open until the end of the year. From January 2011, the exhibition will be taken into all interested schools and high schools from Iasi and neighbouring Vaslui Counties. The photos taken by the Romanian youth will be combined with those taken by youth in Armenia, Albania, Lebanon and Pakistan, collectively called the 'See it our way' photoproject, which will contribute to the Human Wrong Initiative in 2011– a World Vision US campaign of university students from across the U.S. raising their voices to fight child slavery ( -Ends