Circa 2012: I shoot portraits, travel, events, and little bits of every day of life, in both film and digital, ever since I could afford to develop rolls of film at the 1 hr photo store.
This month I wanted to share a story from one of the street children’s homes we support. I got to visit this home for girls about a month after it opened in 2013. What an answer to prayer it was to see how God went before us to open this home!
At the time I was there, 6 girls had been rescued and were living there. Hearing their stories was heartbreaking. But seeing the hope and joy they had, now having a safe home to grow, heal and just be kids—how incredibly beautiful.
In a little while you’ll read the story of “Ashmita”, a young girl who was rescued from an abusive situation where she was forced to labor as a child.
Video by Elicia Christofferson
But first I want to share a special memory from my visit to this home. The girls loved having their photos taken (it seemed like every kid we met did!) The three youngest ones, including Ashmita, would crowd in front of my camera and say “Chapati!” each time I snapped a photo—just like American kids would say “Cheese!” for the camera. (Chapati is Indian flatbread similar to a tortilla.) I secretly got a video of those precious girls too. :)
Young Child Laborer Finds New Life
Reposted from Gospel for Asia
Photo from Gospel for Asia
It burned. Ashmita hurled her exhausted young body into the kitchen. Her eyes stung as she cried out in agony. Chili powder washed off her small cheeks in a red stream as she anxiously tried to recover from the new form of abuse. But the pain in her eyes couldn’t compare to the pain and confusion found in her young, tender heart.
A Living Nightmare
Ashmita doesn’t remember very much about her life before her father died. In fact, she hardly remembers her father at all. The only thing she remembers is he was ill and couldn’t eat spicy foods, and one day he was gone forever.
After his death, Ashmita and her mother moved into someone else’s house to do domestic housework. After a time, Ashmita’s mom sent her to live with another family as a servant. This became a living nightmare for Ashmita.
From morning to night she washed dishes, mopped floors and sometimes washed clothes. When she couldn’t do her work, they beat her legs with canes and slapped her.
“The house where I was staying . . . I was very much ill-treated,” Ashmita shared. “When everybody [went] to bed after food at night, the house owner used to watch television. While watching the television, she used to ask me to massage her legs. If I am tired, if my hands are hurting, she used to beat me and ask me to massage her properly. One night, when I was massaging her leg, I was very tired and sleepy, and while massaging, I slept off. She went to the kitchen and brought some pepper powder [chili] and put that pepper powder in my eyes.
“Once my mother called me,” Ashmita remembers. “She asked that [woman] whether [I was] around. Then she told lie to my mother, and she replied that ‘Ashmita is sleeping,’ while I was sitting with them. While she was talking to my mother, she motioned me not to speak and be quiet and continue the work I was doing.”
Photo by Elicia Christofferson
Ashmita’s mother was of no comfort to her daughter. When Ashmita was allowed to talk with her mom over the phone, the young girl cried and pleaded with her, asking her to take her out of the home she lived in. But her mom told her to do whatever they said. Even though her mom was not involved in her life very much, Ashmita missed her terribly and longed to escape the life she was living.
House of Refuge, House of Hope
When the local authorities found out about Ashmita’s situation, they rescued her from child labor and brought her to a GFA-supported home for abandoned and at-risk children. Now precious Ashmita is safe from abuse, pain and hopelessness. No longer forced to labor, she lives like a child should.
Photo by Elicia Christofferson
Ashmita plays with other children her age, bathes, receives daily meals, learns songs and dances with the other girls at the home. She attends school and likes it! She especially loves the staff who care for her, and the other girls who help her with her studies.
“I like this place so much; I like all these didis (older sisters). They work hard for me and for all of us,” Ashmita shared. “I like this place and I don’t [want] to leave this place and go to any other place or orphanage because of the love and care that we get here.”
Ashmita is thriving under the love she is receiving—love every child longs for.
Best of all, Ashmita has learned she is safe in the arms of Jesus. He saw her tears and knew the pain she felt in her heart. By His kindness and love, He brought her to this home. His love is found in the staff who daily look after and nurture the children who have been abused, abandoned, misplaced and forgotten, girls just like Ashmita.
“The Lord watches over the strangers; He relieves the fatherless and widow.”—Psalm 146:9
Photo by Elicia Christofferson
Learning to develop black and white film was one of the best things that’s happened to me. I love shooting film, and have loved it for a while. Learning to develop it on my own made it so much more awesome.
Last semester I took Daniel Rodrigue’s News Photography I at Brookhaven College. I had cool assignments that weren’t really work, because taking photos is awesome and fun. My kind of class, for sure. I made a camera out of a can, I shot with instant film, and spent hours in the school darkroom. Brookhaven has a black and white photo lab, and all of the equipment and space you need for rolling film onto reels, pouring in the chemistry to develop the film, and making enlargements and prints of your photos.
One Thursday I was at the photo lab at Brookhaven, developing film. (Standing at a sink for an hour and shaking a film tank intermittently is not the most interesting thing it the world. It’s a little boring [except that you know that what you’re doing is making photos, so it’s worth it.] I have small hands, so my fingers cramp up from holding onto the film tank. Then there are chemicals spilling, and dripping onto your hands, and then drying just enough to make it uncomfortable. [I’m making this sound horrible. It’s not really this bad.])
So I was at the lab, developing film. I decided that I would instagram the different steps of developing film, just for fun, and for something to do while I wait. I decided that I would hashtag it all #photolabthursday to group all of the photos and tweets together.
And, now I’m going to share the film developing process with you, via my instagram posts. Just a fraction of all the photos that I posted though!
I have Instagram now. It’s my joy and my bane.
Now in my head I have this dialogue going: “Oh this is the perfect moment. Do I take a picture? Do I savor the moment? Do I share it with the whole world?”
So I try to choose my pictures wisely. To share enough, but not too much. And to not let taking the photos get in the way of what the photos are of.
It’s been fun to share little pieces of what brings me joy, or what I’m up to, etc.
Also, because I’m going to be away from my family and friends here in Texas for the good part of a year, sharing my life with them is important to me.
It’s said that the best camera is the one that you have with you. My iTouch is almost always in my pocket, and it’s made possible many of the photos I’ve taken recently. So Instagram, you’re troublesome, but thank you.
View my instagram feed at www.instagram.com/eliciamoose; follow me directly @eliciamoose
Of my sister Clara.
These photos just happened, really. We were outdoors on a late afternoon, in the backyard, just talking. Then it was like “the light is beautiful… your eyes are beautiful… wait, let me grab my camera.” I had some expired Fujichrome film loaded in my 35mm SLR, so that’s what I shot with.