— Ross Kauffman: What we did during the film “Born Into Brothels” is we basically took the photos in the film that all the children took, and we sold them on the kids’ behalf and 100 percent of the profits went to the kids and their education. So Kids with Cameras acted a conduit for those funds for the children. We also started some other projects for children in other areas in the world like Egypt, Cairo in particular, Jerusalem, and Haiti. But primarily … the main function of Kids with Cameras is that we are filming, along with my executive producer Geralyn White Dreyfous, a home for children in Calcutta.
RK: It’s interesting with this project. Everything kind of grew organically ahead of everything else. And it all started with a photographer named Zana Briski who was taking photos in the red light districts of Calcutta. She started teaching photography to the children of prostitutes. She really loved their photos and then we decided to do a film about these particular children.
The film is really about the incredible creativity of children, that indomitable spirit of childhood that can’t be crushed by just about anything. The kids really take incredible photos, and end up having a gallery show, and in the end some of them finally get into schools. So, that’s really what the film is about. And the organization Kids with Cameras is really born out of that film.
RK: The Hope House is the home that we (Kids with Cameras executive producer Geralyn White Dreyfous and I) are raising money to build in Calcutta. It’s really going to be a safe place for children in the red light district to live and to play, and they’re going to go to school. Their school and their education will be funded through the organization that we’re partnering with in Calcutta. So, it’s really a place where 252 children will be able to live and play, and work, and be safe. And we’re raising money to build the home right now.
RK: One workshop has taken place in Cairo, along with the Zaballeen (people who make a living off collecting trash) where the garbage pickers and the children who live in the garbage dump pick garbage all day. Another was in Haiti, with young women who are called restavek — they’re basically domestic servants. And then, the third was with Israeli Palestinian children in Jerusalem.
RK: As with everything, it’s a mixture, you know. Some people are happy about it. A lot of people are a little bit jealous if their children aren’t a part of it. But for the most part, people reacted positively to the work that we were doing.
RK: Well, you know for me, Kids with Cameras and “Born Into Brothels” were sort of one in the same. They all came about the same time. You know, there were so many memorable moments, it’s hard to pick just one. We’re still in touch with the children from the film.
My most memorable moment? That’s a tough question. It’s funny because I ask people that when I’m interviewing them, but I can’t answer it now. Maybe I’ll think about it and figure out what it is.