On the Road to School

directed by Maher Attar

We reach out to children for the pleasure of sharing with them the best things we have. As a professional photographer, I wanted to use the “On the Road to School” project to teach my skills and pass on my passion for photography. My meeting with ROTA enabled me to transform that idea into reality and be a part of what was a very special experience.

At the outset, things were by no means straightforward. The challenge was to teach the art of photography to a group of fifteen or so boys and girls aged between 12 and 15, most of whom had never worked with a camera before, in a mere four days. Furthermore, the project was conducted in a number of Indonesian, Nepalese and Cambodian villages that could best be described as isolated.

What immediately struck me about those villages was their poverty. And yet that poverty was rapidly eclipsed by the joy and enthusiasm of the children who lived in them. From the glint in their eyes it was clear that they were thrilled by the project. They were serious about it too and had no difficulty in understanding not only the technical aspects of photography but what the project involved: taking photos of their daily life – going to school and coming back home through the village or the surrounding fields …

The results were incredible. The children were quick to understand the concept of reportage while simultaneously retaining their innocence and freshness.

I will never forget the moments we shared together. I hope I was able to teach them something, and that seeing their work published in a book will encourage those children to develop their creative skills. Photography is still one of the most beautiful vehicles of universal communication.

Maher Attar