Written by: Arielle Brousse
Edited by: Ariel Schwartz & Ashton Yount
CSIS photography by: Kaveh Sadeghian
Videos and additional photography provided by Babita Patel
Babita Patel believes in paying attention to the way children see the world.
A humanitarian photographer and former commercial art director, Babita founded KIOO Project as a series of photography workshops. KIOO distributes cameras, gives young students basic lessons, and encourages them to take pictures of themselves and their neighborhoods.
She got the idea on a shoot outside of Port-au-Prince. After taking pictures of some local children, Babita watched one boy methodically point to every face on her display screen until he got to his own, giggling with glee. She realized that he probably didn’t own a mirror; this might have been the first time he was ever able to see himself.
Babita named the project KIOO after a Swahili word meaning “mirror.” Its workshops teach children not only how to reflect what they see, but how to represent their own self-image confidently during their most formative years.
“If you get to a child early on, you could change the rest of their life,” Babita says.