I wonder how many of us considered how lucky we were growing up to have that cosy bedroom with the Jurassic Park bed sheets, a book shelf full of Biff and Chip classics and a box of toys that had about as much meaning and relevance to our lives as the decisions made by those sitting in the seats of Parliament. Nothing mattered except our happiness and development. And that was because things were made easy for us. James Mollison is a heavily-awarded, Kenyan-born, England-raised, Venice-based photographer who has a passion for showing cultural diversity through his work. In 2011, he released a book called Where Children Sleep showcasing the material and cultural differences of children around the world, focusing on class, poverty and the diversity of the children. A portrait of a child is paired with a photo of his/her bedroom. This will open your eyes. Read on.
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James spent three years travelling the world from Senegal to Tokyo documenting the children he met, taking their portraits and getting an insight in to where they sleep at night. The images are truly striking. What’s brilliant is that the book is aimed at children as an attempt to make those more privileged in the developed world aware of the differences in the world they live in, outside their box of a room. Check out some of the photos below. Names and descriptions copied from the book via Polymic.
Dong, 9, Yunnan, China
Nine-year-old Dong shares a room with his parents, sister and grandfather in the province of Yunnan in southwest China. His family owns just enough land to grown their own rice and sugar cane.
Alyssa, 8, Harlan County, USA
Eight-year-old Alyssa lives in a small house in Kentucky, heated only by a wooden stove. Alyssa’s father works at Walmart and mother works at McDonald’s.
Alex, 9, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Unable to go to school, Alex spends his days begging on the streets and sleeping on whatever he can find at night — an empty bench, an old sofa, or the pavement.
Kaya, 4, Tokyo, Japan
Living with her parents in a small apartment in Tokyo, 4-year-old Kaya’s bedroom looks like every little girl’s dream room. All of Kaya’s dresses are made by her mother — who makes up to three a month — and she has 30 dresses, coats, pairs of shoes, sandals and boots, and multiple wigs.
Prena, 14, Kathmandu, Nepal
Prena, a 14-year-old domestic worker in Kathmandu, Nepal works 13-hour days as a domestic worker, earns $6.50 a month, and sleeps in a tiny, cell-like space at the top of her employer’s house. She goes to school three times a week and dreams of one day becoming a doctor.
Jaime, 9, New York, USA
Living in a top-floor apartment on Fifth Avenue in New York, 9-year-old Jaime likes to play the cello, kickball, and study his finances on the Citibank website. His parents also own luxury homes in the Hamptons and Spain.
Anonymous, 9, Ivory Coast
An orphan and refugee from war in Liberia, this 9-year-old boy goes to school in Ivory Coast for ex-child soldiers and lives in a concrete shack with some of his classmates.
Erlen, 14, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Living in a favela in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 14-year-old Erlen is pregnant for the third time. She usually sleeps on the floor but her mother has swapped places and allowed her to sleep on the bed during the later stages of her pregnancy. Erlen was 12 and 13 years old during her previous pregnancies, but lost both babies shortly after their births. If her new baby survives, she will be a single parent and will have to drop out of school.
Rhiannon, 14, Darvel, Scotland
Rhiannon lives with her parents and brother in a terraced house in Darel, Scotland, in an area plagued with heroin addiction and gang violence. She and her family have become used to abusive behaviour from people in the neighborhood. Sporting a mohawk like her parents’ ever since she was six, Rhiannon and her family and friends are part of a punk subculture and have formed a community of support where they all look out for each other.