There is a little place about a thirty-minute drive from my house here in Chennai, where possibility and opportunity unite and magic happens.
I’ve taken a lot of photographs in this city in the past two years. I’ve painted a picture of my days here and have wandered most every neighborhood from left to right and top to bottom in this sprawling city of over 9 million residents. Villages set end to end are painted with color combinations so vibrant and unthinkable. At the end of one such road, lies a home for abandoned, disabled children and at the end of another a school to breathe hope into these very same children. Found.
I came here without an assignment, but in living in, breathing in, crying in and falling in love with this city an assignment sprung from the ashes. Many in fact.
Chennai is an intersection of all that is living, teeming with life and everything that is forgotten, emptied and left to die. As much as ones tries to forsake the other, they are inseparable and each the very thing that feeds on the other.
Poverty has been well documented by photographers over the years and it isn’t what draws us to India, but instead what scares some away. So I carried about my days, camera in hand, searching for light. I raised my lens a hair this way or that to avoid a lost soul, exclude dirty feet, splayed out about the sidewalk that is their home in hopes of salvaging ones dignity. I’ve moved my body this way and that to capture truth without telling a lie. My goal became to be the window for someone who may never have visited Chennai on their own, and to bestow upon them an irresistible urge to come here and see for themselves the yin and yang.
I’ve been supported, encouraged, lost and found along the way. Through this, many partnerships have been forged and the beauty that I’ve shared has been spread worldwide. When Instagram selected me as a Suggested User, I was connected to 35,000+ people around the world, many of which are world travelers, some of which I’ve had the pleasure to meet right here in Chennai.
Michaela Cisney is the fierce and gentle force behind Priyam Global, an NGO based in the U.S.A. Working with disabled children and their families in India, Michaela was here in Chennai working with two partners of Priyam Global, a home and a school. We quickly became friends, collaborators sharing a special love for this city as if it was our own.
Over our first tumbler of filter coffee we created sparks of ideas that would lead to the images you are about to see and ultimately to a change in my heart and collaboration in the name of these sweet children.
Michaela will move mountains, but it is work that is done by moving one grain of earth at a time, and not with out support each step of the way. Her patience will persevere and I am proud to put my name alongside hers and the hope of the children of this city in her hands by selling these small pieces of my heart created on my walks about Chennai.
Today we are releasing a postcard pack featuring my images from about this vibrant city. The cards were printed locally and ship worldwide from the U.S.A.
100% of profit supports Priyam Global’s work to improve global health through empowering families to prevent child abandonment, strengthening the organizations that support them, and placing special emphasis on vulnerable children affected by disability.
Keep the little things, like postcards, handwritten notes and hope alive, or simply keep them for yourself, but in doing so keep babies well -nourished and families strongly together through the work of Priyam Global.
Buy your own Priyam Global + Elise Hanna Wandering Chennai Postcard set here.
For a peek at my time spent photographing The Hope School, please continue scrolling…