Archive for poverty

The Most Dangerous Place to be Born

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 4, 2011 by stevemccurry


  Afghanistan is the worst place to be a child.


As politicians, pundits, and diplomats endlessly debate the future of the world’s involvement in Afghanistan, it seems wise to reflect on the  innocents of Afghanistan over the decades of invasions, insurgencies, civil wars, and abject poverty. 


 “Afghanistan today is without doubt the most dangerous place on earth to be born.”
– Daniel Toole, UNICEF, Regional Director for South Asia


 The burden of wars, poverty, instability, and insurgencies has always been borne disproportionately by children.  They are killed and maimed by landmines and other explosives.   Schools are being destroyed by the Taliban, and girls who seek an education are often threatened and attacked.   Children are recruited by the Taliban to be suicide bombers and smugglers.



 No one growing up in Afghanistan has ever known what it is like to live in a country at peace.




These pictures are hard to look at, but much harder for the parents
to look at their children who are severely injured physically, emotionally, and psychologically.



 A UNICEF-supported study found that the majority of children under 16 years in Kabul suffer from psychological trauma. 


During the ten years the Soviets were in Afghanistan, they killed one million Afghans.  Five million became refugees.


UNICEF, the UN children’s agency, says that Afghanistan is the worst place in the world to be a child. One in five children do not live past the age of five.  Most of those deaths are caused by curable childhood diseases and malnutrition, compounded by the security situation, which means that parents are unable to access proper health care.


It is estimated that at least 30% of children from five to fourteen work to help their families survive.  Many weave rugs and work at factories making bricks.



00299_01, Kabul, Afghanistan, 2002, AFGHN-12432. A water vendor poses.

“It is very difficult to put a hard and fast figure to the number of children dying from hypothermia alone on Kabul’s streets as there would undoubtedly be other reasons that would make them sick or vulnerable in the first place,” UNICEF regional communications chief Sarah Crowe wrote.


 “Extreme poverty, having lost a parent, being trafficked or displaced, or many other reasons may have forced them on to the streets where they would be deprived of their most basic needs (decent food, health, immunization, protection) and exposed to the extreme cold of Afghan winters.”


“There are a lot of children in Afghanistan, but little childhood.”
– Khaled Hosseini,  The Kite Runner

Born Unequal – India’s Dalits

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 3, 2010 by stevemccurry

Dalits sweeping the streets, Bombay, India, 1996

The life of the Untouchables or Dalits (the oppressed)  as they preferred to be called, is to live in grinding poverty and violence, especially in the rural areas of India.

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Dalit Buddhists worship in front of a banner of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar a main architect of the Indian Constitution promoter of Buddhism amongst the Dalits. 1993

Dr. Ambedkar won a scholarship from Columbia University in New York and the London School of Economics, at a time when few Dalits could read or write. When he returned to India, he was shocked to realize that he was still considered Untouchable, and devoted the rest of his life to advocate for Dalits.

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Man working in Sewer, India, 1996

“The Dalits may live in the world’s largest democracy, but their lives are shaped by a system of sanctified apartheid.” Carla Power

India, Bombay, 1993

Bombay, 1993

Discrimination based on caste has been illegal since 1947, but little has changed for the Dalits, especially in the rural areas.


Bombay, 1993

Against all odds, some Dalits have been able to rise to prominence.  Among them are K.R. Narayanan, president from 1997  to 2002.  A Dalit woman, Mayawati, is the current chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, India’s largest state.  She heads her own  political party, the BSP.


Anand, Gujarat, India, 1996

Meira Kumar, a Dalit woman,  was elected unanimously as the first woman Speaker in the lower house of Parliament, where she will preside over 543 elected members.  She is a lawyer and diplomat and was elected to the parliament a total of five times while having served as a cabinet minister at the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment from 2004-2009.

Meira Kumar

Meira Kumar Photo courtesy: Sipra Das/India Today 

As India takes her place amongst the world’s superpowers, there are many indications that this centuries-old oppression will start to change as education becomes more available, and as globalization changes the economic landscape of India.

Children at Work

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 1, 2009 by stevemccurry

In developing countries one in six children from 5 to 14 years old is involved in child labor.


Nepal, 1983

In the least developed countries, 30 percent of all children are engaged in child labor.


Boy working in candy factory, Kabul, 2006

Worldwide, 126 million children work in hazardous conditions, often enduring beatings, humiliation and sexual violence by their employers.


An eleven-year-old boy working in gold mine, Mindinao, Philippines, 1985

An estimated 1.2 million children — both boys and girls — are trafficked each year into exploitative work in agriculture, mining, factories, armed conflict or commercial sex work.


Tibetan Girl, 2002



Children work in an opium field in Badakhshan, Afghanistan. 1982

The highest proportion of child laborers is in sub-Saharan Africa, where 26 percent of children (49 million) are involved in work.


Niger, 1995


Boy sells flowers in busy road, India 1993


Young Welder, Bombay, India, 1994

“Child labor and poverty are inevitably bound together,  and if you continue to use the labor of children as the treatment for the social disease of poverty, you will have both poverty and child labor to the end of time.” –  Grace Abbott



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