Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam , 2000-2006
Street Vision ran from 1998 – 2006, based at the Ho Chi Minh Child Welfare Foundation. Older students joined subsequent courses to help train new young people. During that time Street Vision trained nearly 200 street-working children in photography. During the first years Street Vision advocated strongly in the issues of street children in the City. Later its focus shifted to looking to provide real life skills to the young people coming through the programme and ran a series of successful apprenticeship schemes where the young people worked in local photographic studios and labs or alongside working photographers.
Many earned some money in this way and secured ongoing jobs and a couple even became successful photographers in their own right, one holding individual exhibitions overseas, another running his own portrait studio. As this focus changed the young people focussed more on landscape, portraiture and commercial photography.
Street Vision work has been exhibited annually in Vietnam, both in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and has been exhibited around the world including in Newcastle (UK), Denmark, Ireland, Mexico City, Perpignan (France) Boston (USA) – to mark the 25th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam war, many times in London and in New York – in Brooklyn, at Columbia University and at the Asia Society in Manhattan to coincide with the 2002 UN General Assembly Special Session on the Rights of the Child, to which two street vision students were invited delegates. The work was also shown on Capitol Hill, Washington, where the exhibition was opened by Senator John Kerry, shortly before he ran for US president.
As Vietnam began to undergo its radical commercial transformation in the first years of the 21st century, the homeless and street-working children were moved on from the city centre by the authorities in an effort to clean up the city. Whilst Vietnam has boomed, many have also got left behind and the gap between rich and poor has grown. The street-working children of Ho Chi Minh City are harder to find now behind the glossy veneer of the city but they still exist. Some even say there are more now even more than ever due to increasing rural to urban migration.