ANJALI PHOTO WORKSHOPS
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child declares that every child has the right to “rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities” and “to participate freely in cultural life and the arts”. Creative artistic expression has been established as an essential part of a child’s education, encompassing all the development domains in a child’s development.
The Anjali Photo Workshops was initiated in 2005 as an informal photography workshop by Magnum photographer Antoine D’Agata for a group of street children in Siem Reap. Buoyed by the positive response and the impact it had, the workshops have been held annually ever since, and led to the creation of the now independent NGO Anjali House in 2007.
Today, the Anjali Photo Workshops is a outreach component of the Angkor Photo Association, and the children’s work are incorporated into the annual Angkor Photo Festival.
The Anjali Photo Workshops serve to nurture the children’s innate creativity through open-ended photography workshops guided by volunteer photographers committed to the activity’s goals and objectives. The workshops are conducted in a fun, open-ended format that emphasizes individual freedom of expression, comprising of a series of outdoor photography excursions and group discussions.
In addition to learning to value their own unique vision, the workshops also teaches the children to respect the expressions of others. Not only does this expand their ability to interact with their peers and the world around them, it also helps create increased awareness on cultural diversity.
On a broader level, creative activities such as the Anjali Photo Workshops are known to benefit children’s development in a myriad of ways. With the emphasis placed on the process rather than the product, such activities aid young children’s motor skills and cognitive development, while also strengthening problem solving and critical thinking skills. It also develops their sense of innovation and a forward-thinking mindset while nurturing their social and emotional development.
The Sanskrit word ‘anjali’ translates to ‘offerings’ in English. Anjali House is a house of offerings for local children in need. Beginning as a project of the Angkor Photo Association, Anjali House is today an independent NGO in Siem Reap providing healthcare, food, clean water, education and family support to 120 children and youths who are in need or at risk.
In addition to ensuring the children are healthy and happy and providing them with both education and avenues for creative expression, the ultimate goal for the children of Anjali House is to help them develop into healthy, well-adjusted young adults, equipped with the skills and support they need to enter the workforce and be successful in their future endeavors.