LIVED’s activities in Colombia, culminated with ‘Donde yo crecí, siempre’ (Where I grew up, always), an exhibition of photographs taken by children living within Soacha, a large town immediately adjacent to the Colombian capital, Bogotá. This followed several months of work by one of our team members within Soacha, working with a local organisation – Fundación Luz, Pan y Vida – who provide meals and extra-curricular support to children within the neighbourhood of Olivos Segundo Sector. Through this project the children of OSS created striking images of their neighbourhood.

The children were given disposable cameras and the simple brief of photographing the people, places, and things most important to them within their lives. Once the photographs were developed the children themselves chose four photographs each for the exhibition, which were installed in the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Bogotá. They were then transported up to the University for the opening day, where they had the chance to discuss their photographs with professionals working in the field, followed by a tour of the University campus.

As a peripheral urban area to Bogotá, Olivos Segundo Sector (OSS) has been the receiving point for many families displaced by the armed conflict within Colombia. Like many other neighbourhoods within Soacha, OSS has high levels of poverty, with weak state support, poor infrastructure and high levels of crime. However, the families and children living amongst these considerable challenges experience their neighbourhood and community in varied human ways. Whilst issues of crime and poverty undoubtedly impact upon their lives, with their photography the children instead focused on family, friends, animals, nature and art. In doing so, they illustrated that there is an intensely human experience at the heart of our urban worlds, and that the things through which their world is frequently defined by academics, the authorities, or public discourse do not reflect the lived experience of their day to day lives.

This provided an opportunity for people outside this experience to see the world of these children, and their families, through familiar lenses. More importantly, it allowed the children an opportunity to have their voice heard, and to articulate something on their own terms rather than those of other people.

This project would not have been possible without the generous support of many people in Bogotá and Soacha. Most especially, Fundación Luz, Pan y Vida, who continue to provide much needed support and community to the children every day. For more information, please visit their website, and to donate please contact the email addresses below. LIVED would also like to extend their thanks to the children themselves, for their time, generosity and enthusiasm.