120 Hours in India
The title ‘120 Hours in India’ came about as I was given 5 days to complete this project. The timing of the trip wasn’t ideal as it was in the middle of our family vacation to Italy but having a truly supportive partner and son (who ditched me when we were picked up at Milan Bergamo Airport by his nonno and nonna) helps.
The project was the brainchild of Shaloo and Adhish Kulkarni, the parents of a 9 year old boy I tutored in photography. They organised a trip to India so that he could work on his project ‘Faces’ in their ancestral home. As supporters of the charity Smile Train, they also arranged for him to visit Sant Parmanand Hospital in Delhi and photograph some of the children who were born with Cleft palate. The treatment is carried out by Dr. S.C. Sood and his staff and funded by Smile Train making it a free service.
The family asked whether I’d consider travelling with them to document and mentor their son in Delhi and Varanasi. Once they told me of the work of Smile Train undertake and their commitment to bringing smiles to children across the world it was difficult to turn down.
Image on the left, Ameya with Mamta Carrol (Smile Train Vice President and Regional Director of South Asia), Neeraj Bali (Smile Train Director of Communications and Fundraising) and his mother, Shaloo at the rear. Image on the right, Ameya standing in front of Dr. S.C. Sood with one his team members.
Dr. S.C. Sood addressing the parents of patients who travelled from various villages in the region. He visits Sant Parmanand Hospital twice a month to conduct consultations and surgery. The families arrive at the hospital with help of Neeraj Bali. He coordinates a team of workers who travel across the region finding families who may have children born with the condition. Many are from very poor backgrounds who initially want to hide their children away because they’re ashamed or feel they’ve angered their God in some way. The team educate the families and assure them that it is just a birth defect that can be remedied with the help of doctors. They then organise travel for them to attend a hospital for a consultation.
In a tiny room, Dr Sood carries out the consultations with the families and photographs the children for his medical records.
I was attempting to be as invisible as I could while we accompanied Dr. Sood on his rounds. However this child, who had come in for a post-op check, found and held my gaze.
Whilst Ameya shoots material for his project I noticed that the children were receptive to having their photos taken. There was a mixture of curiosity and happiness from the parents but no objections.
A member of Neeraj’s team helps a family to understand the documentation they need to complete. Now the family are ready.
This man was offered the chance to have a free operation as was his daughter.
Print S a l e
The following images are available in print. I decided that I’d donate proceeds from the exhibition to Smile Train Organisation, also they are single run only. They cost £185 each, approximately the cost to treat one child.