Two years after yesterday’s picture was shot I was back on Nias Island, this time for the opening ceremony of the new high school. It was a big deal with the Bishop coming from Aceh to bless the school as part of the opening ceremony. After that the media parade once again did the rounds of the outlying schools, more for PR reasons than anything else because the donor money had all been spent. It was a photo-op so we could produce a photographic record of the good deeds as well as a book to be given to the donors and visiting VIP’s.
This time the reception from the teachers and staff was understandably less enthusiastic than our last visit, because while new classes had been built, they were still receiving their salaries months late. Nevertheless, a brave face was presented by all as the good cheer caravan moved along. From my prospective things were still mostly the same, although the children had grown a little older and their futures had begun to be etched into their faces.
In this picture it’s possible to see the difference in massive advancement in the quality of digital cameras. Yesterday’s picture is noisy whereas today’s has a greater tonal range although both were taken during a rapidly shot burst.
It’s also possible to glimpse this young girl’s future, unpalatable as it might seem. If history is a guide, then the undeniable facts are that she has very poor parents, slightly darker than average skin, large front teeth and uneven facial features, which would suggest she would be sold into marriage at about 13 years old, with odds being that it will be to an older framer who has lost his previous wife due to illness or accident. Knowing this will happen even as I took photos of these eager children almost broke my heart and eventually I just couldn’t do it any more.
I have never returned to Nias.
24mm, f1.4, 1/400sec, ISO100