Life at fifteen looks different for everyone. It is a time of learning about yourself and the world around you, and is heavily influenced by your community and culture. Street Child’s new photography exhibition, ‘F I F T E E N; through the lens of the next generation’, explores life at 15 through the eyes of teenagers in five communities where we work. From refugee camps in Uganda and Bangladesh, remote communities in Nepal, and active conflict zones in Ukraine and Nigeria, the exhibition allows you to see their world through their eyes. It’s a celebration of youthfulness, resilience and hope in honour of Street Child’s 15th anniversary of working to see all children safe, in school and learning.
In the lead up to the exhibition, Street Child worked with local photographers in each country to host photography workshops with the 15-year-old participants. These professionals played a vital role in teaching teenagers about the power of photography, and encouraging them to capture the stories they want the world to see. Meet the incredible photographers behind the exhibition!
Apochi is a Nigerian freelance photographer and filmmaker with a particular interest in documenting culture, identity and children around Africa. The F I F T E E N exhibition was inspired by a successful pilot programme which Apochi hosted in Nigeria in 2022. He has been a key consultant for the photography workshops for F I F T E E N, lending his expertise for the development of the curriculum and facilitating the workshop in Nigeria.
Apochi believes photography is a strong tool to create social change by changing narratives and inspiring action. He has a diploma in photojournalism from the New York Institute of Photography (NYIP) and a certificate in Public Narrative from Harvard Kennedy School Executive Education. He has previously worked with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, WHO-AFRO and Getty Images.
Apochi described the exhibition as a “window” into the children’s lives. “It’s an insight into the delicate balance we hold as humans – the ability to remain positive, to laugh, to feel joyous, and to have that deep sense of community that often exists only during crisis, conflict, and humanitarian disaster,” he says. “There are young people with talent that are being forgotten because they live amidst the chaos. We act because that one photo, taken by that young child, could change our understanding of who they are and where they live – a place of alignment, recognising that we are all deserving, no matter the circumstances. The photos taken by these incredible young people are a perfect moment in time for us to connect as humans.”
Poet and multimedia journalist, Prakash Chandra Jimba is based in Nepal’s capital city Kathmandu. Since 2020, Prakash has been making documentary films, producing television programmes, and facilitating photo and video editing workshops. Long fascinated by people’s stories and inspired by his grandfather’s tales of travelling through Nepal, Prakash has spent the last few years documenting the tales of his own adventures around his home country. His passion for storytelling and previous experience working with Street Child of Nepal made Prakash the perfect facilitator for the Nepal workshop.
“Working with 15-year-olds was all about creating vulnerable spaces,” says Prakash. “I had a wonderful experience working with 15-year-old kids and sharing a learning space with them. I realised that photography is not just a technical activity which comes through learning, but it also comes through one’s own unique way of seeing the world. I could see so many angles and stories in the students’ eyes, some of them captured in their photos, some of them shared in our conversations which will remain forever in my memory.”
Based in Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, freelance photographer and multimedia artist Monon Muntaka’s work focuses on documenting social concerns, culture, women, and gender. Entirely self-taught, Monon has always been fascinated by documentary films, visual art, and photography. As part of F I F T E E N’s photography workshops, Monon shared her passion for self-expression with Rohingya refugees living in the world’s largest refugee settlement in Bangladesh. Sharing her experience, she said:
“Working with 15-year-olds was new and tough for me because dealing with children requires greater empathy, patience, devotion, and involvement. Teaching visual storytelling to children is also an opportunity for me to gain new perspectives from them. It's not as if I'm only giving. It was my first workshop with teenagers. I was anxious, but the kids were cheerful and active, and they welcomed me with open arms.”
Scriptwriter and photographer, Thierry Barata has spent the last three years in Uganda dedicating his craft to working with children who have had to flee their homes, using storytelling as a means of empowerment and healing. Thierry is the Communications Manager for Street Child’s refugee-led partner organisation CIYOTA in Uganda. Bridging cultures, promoting empathy and inspiring change are the key themes of Thierry’s work and were messages he expertly taught to the teenagers taking part in the F I F T E E N photography workshops.
“The workshop was outstanding,” he says. “I learned a great deal, especially from coaching these young children in photography. It was rewarding to see how they grew and developed throughout the process. I'm thrilled that the portraits and participant photos have contributed to crafting a compelling narrative about the lives of the students in [the refugee settlement]. This experience has been a major turning point in my career, and I am grateful for the opportunity.”
Marysia Myanovska is a multi-award-winning photographer who was born and raised in Kyiv. Working on projects about Ukrainian youth in ghetto districts, Marysia’s work explores the connection between communities and the people who live in them. Published across multiple publications such as Vice, her photographs have been recognised by some of the world’s leading photojournalism institutions like Nikon. Marysia shared the skills she honed in her career with the teenagers taking part in the photography workshop. The stories of young people living in emergency settings are often overlooked, forgotten amid the conflict. F I F T E E N provides a platform for all to learn about the experiences of Ukraine’s teenagers.