In this article, we highlight the fifth and last finalist for the inaugural Reminders Project Asian Photographers Grant. We take a look at Zishaan Akbar Latif’s touching and revealing project with the NGO Arushi.
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Ability in Disability
Zishaan Akbar Latif, India
Emerson says, “ A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer. “
The dictionary definition of a ‘Hero’ is an exceptionally skillful individual, one who fights against the odds. And wins. Going by this, every disabled person alive would excel in the test to be a hero.
India is home to the largest number of persons with disability in the world. The 2001 census of the country estimates their number at 21906769 people with disability in India. However, according to many observers the actual number of Indians with temporary and permanent disability could be as high as 60 Million.
Despite a sound legal framework, a plethora of programmes, schemes and rules, improvements in the circumstances of persons with disabilities are far from visible. Their lives continue to be handicapped by social, cultural and attitudinal barriers.
My project aims to assist Arushi, an NGO that aspires to bring a ray of hope into the lives of the disadvantaged sections of the society by striving for their integration into the mainstream. Arushi means the first ray of the sun – the first ray of the sun brings forth a new day, fresh hope, promises and prospects. As a centre of motivation and a platform of exposure for disabled people, Arushi encourages them to explore and instils self-belief.
Words from our Jury Panel:
“It takes great patience, dedication and heart to produce photographs such as these. This is a visual poetry that empowers the subjects: no victims here. These positive and uplifting moments are offered up as extraordinary by the photographer as he recognizes and understands the difficulties faced by these often-unsung ‘heroes’.”
– David Dare Parker, Award-winning photographer & co-founder of REPORTAGE
“I was really surprised when I saw this work. For all candidates, I started with reading the proposition first, and only after that I consulted the images. Upon first reading I feared that this would be difficult to visualise in a different way to avoid some of the clichés relating to disability. But the work sent in was very strong and I really liked the hope and positivism that was undeniably present in these images. Beautiful use of light and composition, adding to the quality of the photos and that made them really convincing.
I felt that this photographer knew what he was doing and how he wanted to bring the story. Always respectful and almost making you forget about the nature of the people portrayed. Making them look very able to enjoy life and that was really impressive and original as opposed to the image we have of disabled people in my part of the world – which appears to be similar reading the description he sent. I am convinced the NGO he is working for must be very pleased to be able to work with such a talented photographer who can visualise perfectly their mission.“
– Bruno De Cock, Photo Editor, Medecins Sans Frontieres International
Zishaan Akbar Latif
I am a photographer. I observe the environment around me and I try to pause these observations with my camera to share. To do this successfully, I need to be confident in what I see. This work takes me to many places, and requires me to embrace a somewhat solitary life. I am liberal. I grew up in a free home where we were encouraged to follow our beliefs and fall in love with who we wished. I stand for something and I, too, am unwavering and stubborn in my perspective.
Invisible Photographer Asia (IPA) is the official media partner of the Reminders Project Asian Photographers Grant.
The winner of the grant will be announced in November during the 7th Angkor Photo Festival, held from November 19-26, 2011, in Siem Reap, Cambodia. During the festival, there will also be a special showcase of the finalists’ projects.