To mark the World Children’s Day, a two-day photo exhibition ‘The World Around Us: A Photo Exhibition by the children, for the children’ opened at the Royal Textile Academy in Thimphu, yesterday.

Over 40 photographs taken by a group of adolescents are displayed at the exhibition to celebrate their creative spirit.

The exhibition is a product of a five-day training on basic photography and caption writing held on October 20 this year. UNICEF Bhutan and Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy (BCMD) organised the training for 25 participants, which include monks and nuns. The photographs were chosen out of more than 500 that the participants had shot after the training.

Communications officer with BCMD, Tempa Wangdi, said the monks and nuns were chosen to participate as they are hardly seen taking part in trainings. “We wanted to enable them to document and record through photography the issues and concerns surrounding their community and our society.”

One of the nun participants, Tshultrim Wangmo said that it was difficult to show what she wanted through photographs. “It was tough but getting to meet new people and visiting new places made photography enjoyable.”

Another participant, Tshering Dendup said, “I am excited about my picture being exhibited. I did not think my pictures were going to be selected as I am not used to using a camera.”

Executive Professional Director of BCMD, Siok Sian Pek-Dorji said the photographs speak to the spectators, which is important in a country like Bhutan where tourists are usually seen taking photographs of Bhutanese.“It is important that we learn to interpret Bhutan for ourselves, how we see it.  Democracy works when people have a voice and it does not mean a physical voice. It can also be a photograph, or a piece of writing about how you feel and how you express yourself.”

World Children’s Day marks the anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989.

A press release from UNICEF and BCMD states that the day is ‘for children, by children,’ when children in over 130 countries take over key roles in media, politics, exhibitions, businesses, sports and entertainment to express their concerns, voice and support for the millions of their peers, and give children their own platform.

“World Children’s Day is about listening to us and giving us a say in our future,” said one of the participants.  “We need to speak up for ourselves, and when we do, the world needs to listen.”

Karma Cheki