Fearless in Inner-City Kingston
DA* 16-50 Giveaway Entry #1
By Heie in It's Good to Be Fearless on Apr 3, 2013
Editorial note: this article is the first of a series of finalist submissions in a recent competition hosted by forum member Heie. For this competition, participants were asked to submit 3 photos or a video showing what "It's good to be fearless" means in the context of the participant's photography.
Hello, it's my pleasure to enter this contest - and to thank Heie for such a classy and kind offer. Very "Pentax" of you.
I work for a non-profit organization active in international development, and I enter Heie`s contest as I pack for a working trip in two days to rural Cameroon, in Central Africa.
These photos were taken last spring in Kingston, Jamaica. More specifically, in the inner-city neighbourhoods of Trivoli Gardens and Trench Town. While tourists may know only one side of the Caribbean country – the turquoise seas, rum and reggae – it is a diverse land ranging from bucolic rural rhythms to blue mountain vistas to edgy urban beats.
While Jamaica is rich in culture and history, it struggles with poverty and crime. With a population approaching three million – 30 percent of whom are children and youth – it has the third-highest murder rate in the world.
Much of the violence takes place in Kingston, the nation’s political and industrial capital. It’s a colourful collage of modern buildings, colonial architecture, and the creative chaos of inner-city communities immortalized in the songs of music legends Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. These neighbourhoods can be dangerous, scarred by social problems and poverty of opportunity.
I was there making a short video on a project we support, helping youth victims of crime navigate successfully through the court system.
The story centred a young girl who was was worried that what happened to her would happen to her siblings. So the slight 10-year-old made the walk alone – even her mother didn’t know – through the alleys and streets of West Kingston to the closest police station.
Past the cinder block houses capped with corrugated tin, past the tiny corner snack shops, past the local betting shop.
“I had to go because my dad did something bad to me,” she revealed in a soft voice. The young girl said she was raped by her father when she was six, and again when she was nine. (Not part of my submission, however if you are curious for more information into this story, you can view a video here: www.youtube.com/cusointernational)
It can be challenging in some of those communities – and also undeniably exciting and vibrant. Not long before these photos were taken (with a K-X), someone yelled at me and drew a gun, thinking I was a DEA agent or some other foreigner intent on ‘making trouble’. Convinced that I was indeed just a charity worker there to work in partnership with local groups, his demeaner changed, and an offer of a Red Stripe beer surfaced.
The lesson? Be smart but be fearless, and be open to encounters in this wonderful, awful, fascinating world of ours.
Thanks for the opportunity to enter. As someone who lives on the Atlantic Coast in a fog bank where rain is gentle constant, having a weather resistant lens would open up possibilities with my K-30 - as well as be a go-to lens on trips abroad for work. Thanks again.