Behind a very soft facade, Caroline Irby has travelled as a reporter photographer in almost every conflict zone in the world. As a matter of fact, she’s going to Afghanistan next month. I met her today to discuss one of the brightest project I’ve heard of lately: photographing and interviewing one child from each country of the world represented in the UK. That’s 185 immigrant children searched and met over 12 months.
Did you know that there are 192 official countries in the world?
With the help of school teachers and city councils, she’s been able to track down boys and girls up until 16 years old, living as far north as the Scottish islands. The only criteria was that they would be born in their home country, to both parents of the same nationality. Only five countries fail to be represented, for lack of immigrant in the UK, or in the case of North Korea, the reluctance from those found to be featured.
Questions like what is your favorite song would often break the ice during the interviews. Funny enough, the most common answer was twinkle twinkle little star! (let’s call it the integrating song from now on). When asked what they miss the most from their home country, my granny, or my home food would be most frequent. So touching.
Quite a few teenage girls said that they would like to become human rights lawyer. And at least one child (and his family) has been deported back to his country (Uganda) since the interview.
Initially commissioned by The Guardian newspaper for a special issue titled Home from Home, the project has evolved into a book which will be published this May, A Child from Everywhere with proceeds going to Oxfam. It will be followed by a photography exhibition at the V&A Museum of Childhood London, from May 7th until August 31st 2010. Meanwhile, you can watch here the short films made out of the project and aired on Channel 4 last year.
I think that the book will be a true educational tool for children and adults alike. Another perspective on the atlas of the world.