In the past fifteen years I have worked in 112 countries, often covering conflict, crisis and disasters. The majority of the countries I have worked in have been extremely poor and one thing that always amazes me is people’s ingenuity. Combine that ingenuity with the imagination of a child and you will often find that the poorer the country, the more interesting the children’s toys are.
While on a three year assignment for the Gapminder Organization I was given a chance to explore how people live. The assignment was fascinating and you can read more about it and explore it in depth by visiting the links below, but here is a quick summary of what it was about. Working from statistics I would travel to the world's poorest countries and identify families that were living in the poorest of poor conditions. The project was later expanded to all income brackets, but for the sake of this story we are talking about families living in abject poverty.) Once the families were identified and an in-depth survey was taken, I would then spend a day with them photographing everything in their home. The idea is to show, for instance, what family living on a dollar a day in rural Malawi would use for a toilet, what a poor family in Haiti might have for dinner and what a farmer in Burkina Faso might use instead of toothpaste.
For me, one of my favorite things to photograph as part of this project was children’s favorite toys. I liked it so much I had to start not just photographing the toy itself, but a portrait of the child and the toy. From balls that were made from trashed plastic bags to pets to sticks and stones and what we might call just plain garbage. Watching a kid laugh and smile from nothing more than rolling a discarded tire down a dirt road or cuddle a doll that has seen better days is truly fun and inspiring. I hope that these photos can serve as a reminder that we really don't need much to be happy as long as we have our imaginations.
You can find more of my photos for this project by following this link https://www.gapminder.org/dollar-street/photographer/56ec0917af72e9437cbccf93
This story is designed to give a very brief look at photos and information collected as part of a much, much larger project on how families live all around the world. To see a much more in depth look at how these families live, what their lives look like and more detailed statistics on their jobs, incomes etc, please visit: https://www.gapminder.org/dollar-street/ This is also part of a larger piece published by Extraordinary Vision Magazine which you can find out more about and subscribe to at https://extraordinary-vision.com/free-issues
Each photo lists the country of origin, the monthly income of the family converted to US dollars and what the toy is (as some photos may not be self explanatory.)
In Haiti living on about $21.5 per month for a family of four. A small car built out of an old bottle and soda caps.
In India living on about $66 per month for a family of five. A pet rabbit.
In Malawi living on about $22 per month for a family of twelve. A toy doll.
In Burkina Faso, living on about $24 per month for a family of six. A discarded tire.
In India living on about $390 per month for a family of nine. A plastic action figure.
In India living on about $12 per month for a family of six. A plastic bottle.
In Malawi living on about $22 per month for a family of twelve. A marble.
In The Ivory Coast living on about $65 per month for a family of ten. A hollow stick and a regular stick used to shoot small pebbles like a gun.
In Haiti living on no income, aid and assistance only, for a family of eight. A set of marbles.
In Bolivia living on about $387 per month for a family of six. A football.
In Burkina Faso living on about $17 per month for a family of seven. A broken plastic doll.
In Colombia living on about $103 per month for a family of seven. A string used a jump rope.
In The Ivory Coast living on about $143 per month for a family of ten. A broken plastic pistol toy.
In India living on about $45 per month for a family of five. A doll missing its arms.
In Colombia living on about $308 per month for a family of six. A pet cat.
In Tunisia living on about $54 per month for a family of four. per month for a family of seven. A military uniform and hat.