Coopersmith's Pub and Brewing
Hog Wild BBQ and Subway
Beau Jo's Pizza and Pizza Casbah
Krazy Karl's Pizza and Noodles & Co.
To learn more, buy the book, scroll through a sampling of the participants' images for sale, and read the blog. All proceeds from the sale of the book and prints go to the work in Turkey, for the purchase of wheelchairs, birthday party celebrations, transport costs, therapy equipment, and/or local staff expenses.
This photo was taken by Ceylan, the 17 year old sister of one of the physically handicapped Kardelen workers. Ceylan participated as a sibling affected by disability in Turkey. Her sister was weakened by Polio as a child and then permanently paralyzed as an adolescent in a car crash that took their mother's life. Due to a number of horrific things, Ceylan's sister ended up in the orphanage/institution where Kardelen first began their work. She was later "rescued" and provided handicap accesible housing and a job with Kardelen. Ceylan now spends summers with her sister and desires to be a doctor in the future.
One of the project assignments was to photograph reflections. When we regathered, we discussed the concept of reflecting things to the world. What do you reflect? What does the world see? What would you like the world to see? How would you choose to be perceived?
Samet is the 10 year old sibling of Volkan, another participant. He is an energetic boy, mischievous and fun-loving, with a keen eye to people and the personality that shows through their expressions. He wants to be a chef when he grows up.
Tugba is a 16 year old twin affected by Cerebral Palsy. She is a vibrant teenager whose desires are like those of any 16 year old girl. She longs to look cute, likes to listen to music, wants friends and wishes to go to school. Sadly, these last two are disappointments in her life. She stopped going to school after 8th grade and has difficulty navigating the poorly designed streets, sidewalks, and public transportation system in Ankara.
"Shapes" assignmentFollowing an assignment of photographing shapes in everyday life, participants discussed ways that normal, ordinary things can become things of beauty. We talked about how we are all different shapes ourselves, and no one shaped person is more or less beautiful than another. This photograph, of the famous round sesame roll seller, was taken by 16 year old Tugce. She is a stylish young lady who loved the camera! Mastering the skill of holding, framing, and shooting with one hand, she became our most prolific documenter.
"Scavenger Hunt" assignment
The first thing we do is get comfortable with the camera, and this is best done through a game! One of the items on the scavenger hunt list was "a man" and a more challenging option was "an old man." Zeynep, age 10, accomplished both in this wonderful portrait of an average man on the streets of Turkey. Participants were instructed to extend value to others by seeking permission before taking their photograph. Zeynep is the vivacious daughter of one of the Kardelen workers, with intimate knowledge of many of the families living with disability that her mother helps.
Volkan is a 13 year old boy with a rare genetic skin disease that makes him dependent on a wheelchair for most of his mobility. He is a bright and thoughtful teen who loves his family, education, and wants to be a doctor when he grows up. Of this bridge with multiple shapes, he says, "Actually they made the bridge from many different shapes and engineered something beautiful. This work was not easy but the result was pretty. Normally people don’t like to take bridges to cross over busy streets but this one is so pretty that I’m sure people are willing to take the flight of 35 stairs to the landing and look down. I would love be able to do that."
Tugba's photographs from her self-portrait work are a mixture of gorgeous flowers, small wood carvings of musical instruments, a school building and stairs, ramps, potholes... "When we go visiting anyone, I would love it if there was an elevator there. I wish our home had a ramp so that I’d be able to visit my grandmother easily. It’s hard for me that I can’t be out on the street on my own. Oh these curbs, oh these steps! When I see others walking I get sad and wish I could walk like everyone else." The most poignant image of all is this posed shot of her sister at the nearby intersection of a main thoroughfare. The endless stairs illustrate Tugba's frustration: "Oh these steps!"
Tugce's self-portrait photographs show emotions that run deep. She captures barriers in the home to independent living; a kitchen faucet and countertop that are too high to reach from a wheelchair; a western toilet in a room too small to enter; a high lip into their home... "I don’t like it when people look at me with pity in their eyes. I’d like to be able to go outside on my own. Sometimes when I go outside people look at me strangely and it makes me upset so I go to a corner and cry. Kids in our neighborhood do not want to play with me because I am disabled. This makes me really sad. I’d like to help my mother out at home with kitchen work. We have a toilet at home but I can’t close the door and cannot bring my wheelchair inside."
Volkan's self-portrait photographs express a depth not typical for 13 year old boys. His thoughts are that of a quiet, introspective, intelligent young man trapped in a body that doesn't match his desire. Of this image of the hourglass, Volkan says "Life is short, like this hourglass."
Volkan took his camera home and photographed the community shop owners. There is an absence of friends in his images from home, and his family refused to have their portraits taken, but these men stand out as faces of peace. These local businessmen are kind and accepting. It must answer the longing Volkan expressed at the beginning of the project: "I would like people to accept me as I am. I don’t want them to pity me."
Samet's self-portrait photographs from home include the terrace herbs he cultivates to every detail from inside his house, including a toy gun, their favorite cartoon on the TV screen, and the family clock! He photographs the local businessmen who care for him and his brother, the neighborhood mosque and the view from the top. Overall, one gets a sense of well-being from his photographs. Of these men, Samet says "They share with us."
Most people think human trafficking is an international problem. But it happens in our own backyard! Some groups are more vulnerable to being trafficked than others. In Denver, on any given night, there are estimated to be 1,135 homeless youth on the street. 10-30% of these will be trafficked or exploited sexually, though some will also be exploited for labor.
Prax(us) is an organization dedicated to ending human trafficking from a simultaneous systemic and street outreach approach. In May, 2011, A Face to Reframe partnered with Prax(us) to offer these youth a visual voice into the world of exploitation. Our goal was to empower them to be the authors of their own social change.
Chick Fil A
Noodles and Co.
Special thanks to Awaken Photography for photographing the event and creating this video.
We are able to contribute, an asset to the greater good.
We should be valued in the working economy because we are hardworking, even if we aren’t working a 9-5 job.
I am generous. It feels good to help people, even though I did give that guy one of my last four dollars.
Of the 72 million people in Turkey, 12.3% are disabled (and the numbers are growing). Social stigmas abound and public policy is stagnant. Though special education was first begun under the Ottoman Empire in 1889, today's activity can best be described as silence. Without an increase in education, public awareness, and discussion, the disabled population will continue to be unheard and unseen.
In April 2009, A Face to Reframe conducted a beta project with nine mentally disabled youth in Antalya, Turkey. They were given cameras and paired with a volunteer "coach" and asked to answer different questions through their pictures: What is beautiful? What is ugly? They also had a scavenger hunt clinic and a portrait clinic. This is a sampling of their work.
Entrusting a digital camera to a child who has never used more than crayons in an artistic expression communicates a value and worth in her humanity.
The goal of this project was not to teach photography, nor is the success of this method dependent upon skill. Cameras are a non-threatening and yet still exciting technology; not demanding great technical maneuvering, and yet capable of communicating great depths. For children, particularly disabled children, they are a useful tool to empower their voices to be heard. It is not about the quality of the picture, but about the perspective of the one behind the lens.
As one of the outcomes of the Muted Voices project, A Face to Reframe published a book, highlighting the work, perspective and authorship of the 9 disabled youth. These photos unveil a dignity within these men and women that has been painfully overlooked. Through this book, we were able to raise awareness and advocacy,
as well as literally make authors of the participants.