Bearing a handicapped child in India is considered a sign of bad karma. Mothers (and fathers) who have a handicapped baby must have engaged in some misconduct in their former life to be punished with a handicapped offspring. As a consequence handicapped children are often hidden away from mainstream society, doomed to live a life with very little social contact and little or no access to schooling and other services.

The social organization Samadhan, an NGO with centers in slum and re-settlement areas in New Delhi, India, specializes in searching and finding handicapped kids and convincing the parents to bring their kids to the centers, where they afford them with early intervention, medical, educational and counseling services.

If it is one step for mothers (and fathers) to take their handicapped kids out into the public it is yet another to be photographed with them and presenting themselves and their kids to an imaginary public. I gained the trust of the parents and children through working at Samadan’s centers for a few weeks before starting to take pictures. I started taking pictures with a Polaroid camera so that I could give the photographs to the parents and kids that I was photographing. With the help of the psychologist of Samadhan as a translator I tried to explain the parents why I wanted to take their portraits. Some agreed to it, some didn’t.

In 2002 Samadhan recieved a World Bank ‘Development Marketplace’ Award for its work. (World Bank News Release No.2002/175/S).

Find more information on the work of Samadhan here.

Built with Berta