HOW THEY SEE THE GOLD RUSH / THE PUERTO MALDONADO PROJECT

Florida Baja, Puerto Maldonado, Madre De Dios, Peru, April 2014

Daniel Malka Madre De Dios Peru

River Madre De Dios,Peru, the shores of many rivers are destroyed by gold mining

Thanks to a collaboration with the NGO ANIA, we brought the How They See project to Florida Baja, a district of about 80 families located 50 km of Puerto Maldonado, on the Interoceanic Highway in Madre De Dios, Peru.

The project was run with the cooperation of the teacher, director of a primary school, harboring 22 children aged 6 to 13 years old, all in the same classroom.

The stories told by the children and families of Florida Baja gives us a cross-section of life in the area of Puerto Maldonado in the jungle of Peru.
They are a testimony of the severe multilevel issues caused by the rising price of gold and the ongoing illegal gold mining in Madre De Dios.

Of course, the lack of resources and struggle to meet basic living needs is a common denominator. Most families struggle to make ends meet.
I can not put in words my outrage at the social consequences, minors rights violations and environmental disaster brought about by the gold rush in this jungle of Peru.

Once again, I need to emphasize the importance of story telling education in populations at risk to give us a true cross section of the issues voiced so bluntly and so honestly by the children when they are given the opportunity and tools to do so in the safe environment we create for them.

The School

The Class

Main Issues Observed and/or Reported to Us
- Extreme poverty
- Child abuse
- Prostitution
- Sexual Abuse of minors (reported to authorities, to be discussed in a separate article)
- Lack of resources for proper education: computer, internet, books, sustained children rights education, social worker aid.
- Severe deforestation and mercury contamination of rivers, wildlife and vegetation by gold mining: 70,000 acres of jungle in 4 years.

11 year old with her 10 day old baby as a result of sexual abuse by step father

Results Achieved with 35 hours of classes and 8 days living in the community
- Complete program in verbal story telling, drawing and documentary photography
- discovery of new talent
- Group interaction and promoting self value
- Create a safe environment for the children to tell their stories
- Identification of serious social issues and immediate needs of the children
- Focus of classes on the environment and childrens rights
- Repair the school playground
- Supply the school with the tools and seeds for an orchard
- Involve families in the building of a model orchard to be replicated at home with the plants of the school orchard.
- Emphasize the importance of the orchards as a source of better nutrition, protecting the environment, and as a potential alternate source of income to working in mining.

The drawing class

Documenting The Orchard

The Swings are repaired, thank you Pietro

Parents and children preparing the orchard

Planting the seeds for vegetables

Objectives Remaining To Achieve

- Continue the Learn Create and Share Program
- Get a computer and internet connection for the children in order to share more work and communicate.
- leave at least 5 cameras with the school teacher for the children to continue their work.
- Build a small library in the school
- have a social worker visit at least once a month that can educate the children on their rights and encourage them to verbalize the issues.
- monitor the progress of the Orchard program.
- Set up an exhibition of the photos taken by the children.
- Create a fund to help single minor mothers victims of rape and sexual abuse.
- Educate girls on their rights and to break the cycle of abuse and reduce the risks of prostitution.

All the children of the world have the same right to be heard and achieve their dreams

My conclusions and thoughts:

In a paradise like setting in the jungle of Peru there are children full of hope, smiles, affection and dreams just like any other children all around the globe. They are materially very poor, no doubt, but their hearts are full of dreams and love.
Puerto Maldonado is a city decimated by strikes, delinquency, prostitution, direct consequence of the gold rush in Madre De Dios.
One can feel the hostility in the air. An anarchy like atmosphere. Illegal strikes, armed mining workers, violent demonstrations forcing stores and markets to shut down.
The illegal gold mining and the ever increasing price of gold is a disaster not only for the environment but also for the children and the population.
Single mothers of all ages seeking income as prostitutes. An infernal vicious circle that needs to be broken.
Schools with less than the bare minimum to be able to teach a basic education, with overwhelmed teachers having to play the role of director, mother, social worker, psychologist and environmentalist.

These children might not be war refugees, but in many ways they are. They are the forgotten victims and figures of resiliency of a different kind of war: the quest for gold at any cost.

It is incumbent on us, NGO’s, government, parents and human beings to brake the cycle of poverty and lack of education that brings about social chaos in a land where children’s dreams and lives are chattered.

A sustainable education program is a large part of the answer.
We have reached the hearts of families and given some hope to the children of Florida Baja.
Parents came running to build the school orchard, swings, and to thank us for being there.
The project and the results obtained in Florida Baja puts the emphasis on how valuable a Learn Create and Share education model is in not only educating the children and families but also in educating us by collecting anthropological and true data from the field, allowing us to identify directly the issues and needs, as opposed to relying on outdated statistic sheets. I say outdated because by the time these stats are collected and programs are developed, the picture and issues have changed or evolved.
In a country as diverse as Peru, lit is crucial to adapt a creative education program to each area and ethnic group according to their language, values, culture and specific needs. An at large program can not work.

Our Learn Create and Share education model has proven its efficiency in Ruka and now the jungle of Florida Baja.
Children learn, create and share their lives, issues and values in many forms of story telling.

In order for the program to continue and to reach our objectives, we need the help of everyone.
You can support our programs by sponsoring, or simply donating what you can by clicking on the DONATE button at the top right of the page.

Thank you.

Daniel Malka, Lima, Peru.

Many thanks to Joaquin Leguia from ANIA, Ysabel, Segundo, the children and parents of Florida Baja.
My gratitude goes to my childhood friend Pietro Micheletti for all his support and coming to share another chapter of my life.

© Copyright on all texts and photos, Daniel Malka, All Rights Reserved.

DANIEL MALKA INTERVIEWED ON “Chema A Las 10″ RPP, PERU

Aside

We have to all do our part to help children.
A basic education through photography, narration, culture, art, preserving values and the environment.
It can all be done through creative thinking..

I can’t find the words to thank enough the people helping the project, from Canada to Peru, Mexico, Lima and Cusco.
I thank Chema Salcedo, RPP radio and TV Peru, and all the produccion team for helping out in diffusing and helping us help the children.

I am truly overwhelmed by the kindness and commitment of the Peruvian people.
I am more than greatfull to all my friends in Lima and Cusco for all their help and for making me feel so much at home.

The children will thank you forever.

We still need digital cameras¡

Daniel Malka

Provincia de Cuzco, el 6 de Octubre 2012

Daniel Malka Photo Project Interview on RPP Peru

GETTING TO PERU

Aside

© 2012 daniel malka, all rights reserved

It’s been many days, many nights, many emotions, photographs, thoughts, steps and bumps on the road.

I was delayed, but everything happens for a reason.
During these times I discovered the true value of people, family, friends and love.

When you are about to leave on a long journey, you discover the fears and of others and realize that you have none.
Because in the end, life is only about what you believe in with all your heart and your eyes wide open..

Above all, I strenthened the beautiful bond between a daughter and a father. I thank the stars and the angels for that.

In the last months, the sad truth behind my last relationship also appeared. Nevertheless, the love that one offers unconditionally, comes back to him in infinite ways. We are the sum of what we give, not what we take.

As I wrote before, this project is inspired by the sum of my life’s experiences. It separated truth from lies, humanism from ego and selfishness, humility from arrogance, talent from vanity, true love from greed, loneliness from solitude and friendship from interest.

In the end it created bonds of friendship and compassion with unique people, that neither distance or time will ever affect.

So, I’ was delayed yes, but I’m more ready than ever to go on with my task and commitment.

I thank the stars, destiny, my parents, my friend Pietro, Laura, Mariana, Adriano, Yves, my daughter Luna, my new friend Mariana, my friends in Peru and Mexico, and so many other supporters for all their kind words, help, time and for believing in all of this.

I also need to thank Nicky and Rose from Cosmos for being my true family and so much more for the last year. May they be blessed and remain the beatiful people they are. I will miss them every day.

Six months ago I made a commitment.

I am in Peru, a country rich in kindness, compassion, culture and humanism.

The first week has been filled with meetings with contacts, running incredible projects helping children, photographers and friends.
We are all committed in helping and giving the tools and basic necessities to children and their communities in order to create a social improvement and positive change. I will try and do my part through photography.

If we all look in the same direction and do a small part, it will happen.

I am currently working on “HOW THEY SEE”, and at least one other project.

We need to raise $3000 in order to complete the water installation and get other necessities for the children of “HOW THEY SEE”.

If you would like to help with your contribution, please follow the link, donate in kind.

Thank you Peru for opening your arms and heart to our project.

Lima, Peru, October 1st, 2012

THE DANIEL MALKA PHOTO PROJECT IN FOCUS INTERVIEW

Aside

Based on an interview by Photo Life Magazine
You can read the full article in the June/July issue of Photo Life Magazine: www.photolife.com

After 20 years of experience in advertising, editorial and fine-art photography, what motivated Daniel Malka to switch his focus to creating and developing this project?

The first thing that comes to my mind is life and passion, the second is a sentence by Albert Camus “Despite appearances, my main occupation has always been love”.
In the last 6 years, my focus has been more on personal projects focused on my humble humanistic approach to aesthetics and social environment.
This new trajectory was set by my first project called VOYAGE, an internal as well as an external analysis one on our basic human values, through a journey in the Moroccan Sahara.
En La Sombra Del Tiempo, in Mexico, is inspired by a love story and the theory that everything hit by light projects a shadow, even time.
A journey through a multicultural, often hidden and forgotten Mexico struggling against corruption and using as their main weapon their sense of culture, kindness and humanism.
My last and ongoing project Dance Me To The End Of Love, is a document, a story of my daily life and vision of close surroundings shot with an old iPhone, in order for the imperfections, colors and style to symbolize a roller coaster of daily emotions and a journey through memories, grief and healing.

The Project is the sum of my life experiences as a photographer, a humanist, a father and a professor

The presence of millions of images on the web, is diluting the ability of creative thinking, the sense of aesthetics and story telling of the next generation. I believe that technology should remain a means to communicate and not a goal. Communication and creativity in the human sense of the word, are key to our survival and well being as compassionate human beings.

My experience as a father, has taught me that by encouraging creative thinking, it opened the doors not only to creativity, but to analysis, aesthetics and understanding in all fields ranging from science to music and art.
My experience as a photography professor to adult students, has opened my eyes on how much resistance can be encountered to a creative process and how thick the walls of the box built by our often outdated education system can be.
Finally, my experience as a man, has taught me that not all that is under the sun, shines.

I am not politically inclined, but I believe naively in social justice, freedom and equality not only between human beings, but all living beings.

I decided to play a part, as small as it may be in creating a small social change, by helping children develop creative thinking and story telling through photography, learn new skills, build a network with no language barriers, and bring awareness from their point on their condition.

The project was developed to teach photography to youth between the ages of seven and fifteen, a critical stage of development, since these children are most at risk of abuse, injustice and poverty. Bringing global awareness from their point of view will also help various NGO’s and encourage private, corporate donors to help these children.


2.What is the most important goal of the project?

It is quite difficult to tag only one single goal as being the most important. It is a complex combination of inter-related elements.
However if I had to pick one, I would say, give all the children of the world an equal right to speech, self-expression that will bring them global notice and get them help through various channels, in in getting education, medical care, food, water, clothing, as well as creating a community of young photographers and story tellers around the globe.

3.How do you choose which local community groups, organizations and NGOs to collaborate with? Can you give an example of how your collaboration with local groups works?

The NGO’s and communities are chosen through referrals, personal contacts and interviews. They are mostly small grass root NGO’s with very low administrative costs, which allows them to distribute the maximum funds possible to the groups they help.
We also look at the type of work they do, and their closeness to the communities we want to work with. We all share the same goal; help children.
For our first project in Peru, we have connected through personal references, people on the ground that have already distributed help to communities in Peru. We based our mission on the needs of these communities that are at every humanistic level. It’s the “How They See” project.


3.How do you choose which local community groups, organizations and NGOs to collaborate with? Can you give an example of how your collaboration with local groups works?

The NGO’s and communities are chosen through referrals, personal contacts and interviews. They are mostly small grass root NGO’s with very low administrative costs, which allows them to distribute the maximum funds possible to the groups they help.
We also look at the type of work they do, and their closeness to the communities we want to work with. We all share the same goal, to help children
For our first project in Peru, we have connected through personal references, people on the ground that have already distributed help to communities in Peru. We based our mission on the needs of these communities that are at every humanistic level. It’s the “How They See” project. The contact is made directly with the community’s leader and the program is explained to the parents. Once on the ground, we meet with the groups for our first direct brief of the program. The parents help, collaboration and contribution is essential.


4.Are representatives from the Daniel Malka Photo Project on the ground at each location to teach/work/etc? Or do they train the local instructors without contact with the children?

Photographers from the countries of origin are recruited on a screening of skills, portfolio, experience, ability to communicate, work with children, experience and rules of ethics.
Daniel Malka trains them on the ground through the whole program, while he is working with the groups. He believes it’s the best way to train participating photographers in order to continue the work in the country and in turn train other photographers wanting a social change.


5.What do you hope to achieve through the exhibitions of the young photographers’ work? Where will the exhibitions be?

The young photographers work will be exhibited in in participating galleries, in their respective countries and around the globe. It will also be exhibited online.
NGO’s participation will be crucial in this process, as the work will help all humanitarian groups helping children globally.
It will help us join our efforts in raising funds by showing the reality that surrounds these children from their point of view.


6.The website mentions income being re-directed back to the communities. Where does this income come from?

The income will come from private, corporate donations, sponsorships and foundations. It will also come from licensing photos, books, as well as Daniel Malka’s current and passed work sales that go entirely to the project since January 2012. Moreover, photo licensing funds will go to the young photographer and family.

7.What kind of response have you had to the initiative (from the youth and local communities, but also from international communities)?

Although the program is very young, the interest shown has been overwhelming at times. We are currently developing contacts in Canada with social workers in order to help various groups of children. We are as active as we can in promoting the project through word of mouth, social networking and interviews like this one. We currently have contacts and open doors in Mexico, Peru, Bolivia, Kenya, Cameroon, Burundi, Columbia, Spain, Romania and the list is constantly growing. The Project has been very well received in Peru for example by the community leaders and parents of the How They See project.

8.Have there been any surprises or particular challenges encountered in developing the program?

So far the biggest challenge has been raising funds. Having said that, our launch show from March 11 th, online galleries has generated some funds from private donations and Fine Art Photo Sales. It’s only a question of time. The response so far is good and we are currently waiting for answers from various sponsorship requests. Daniel Malka is basically financing the How They See project from his own funds.

Although we are well prepared and structured, we certainly will encounter challenges on the ground, but like any operation or photo production, we are ready to solve issues as they appear.
We are still in the process of building this operation, as any other humanitarian group has told us, it’s not easy, but then again what is.
So far the hard work and dedication of the volunteer team has made everything fall into place. We are confident of the success of the project.


9.What are your goals for the future of the program?

Bring global awareness from the childrens point of view on their condition and environment, in order to help them and enable them to create a social change for them as well as their communities, respecting their cultural identity.
Encourage creative thinking and vision as a form of free expression, education and aesthetics.
Create a network of young photographers documenting from all corners of the globe, their issues, use the power of imagery and new media in order to inform us, from within, on abuse, injustice and poverty.
Unite children in one voice and vision with no language barriers, in order to bring some change and remind us of our basic human values and that we are all responsible, because we can all help one way or another.

Encourage creative thinking and humanitarian actions by the photographers joining us in educating the children and developing the program.

10. How can our readers help support this project? Are there particular guidelines about the types of cameras, memory cards or laptops that you accept? Do you use volunteers for anything ?

All digital cameras are welcome, from point and shoot to to DSLRs. Memory cards, SD or Flash from 1G and up. Laptops,PC or Macs that are able to run Lightroom or Bridge.
We are looking for photographers based in Cameroon, volunteers with NGO experience social networking experts and Fund Raising consultants.
General Volunteers can also send their resume.

USEFUL LINKS TO SUPPORT THE PROJECT:

All the latest info can be found on our website and our Facebook Page
We will need photographers interested in humanitarian missions in the following countries: Mexico, Burundi, Cameroon, Kenya, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Spain, and all provinces in Canada, as new projects emerge constantly.
Please send your resumes trough our Careers Link

To contribute Cameras, funds, or become a friend, sponsorships

Our Current HOW THEY SEE fund raising campaign

For all other detailed information including Universities, NGO’s, Foundations and Press communications
Please contact Laura Carli: lcarli@malkaphotoproject.org

Finally I want to thank all the people, friends and my dear team mates for making all this possible.
Special Thanks to Jenny and Photo Life Magazine.