This kid is why I am here in Bangladesh. I took this photo six years and one month ago and his face has been stuck in my head ever since. 149 children, out of every 1,000, who are under five years of age die each year in Bangladesh (this number has since lowered to 73 out of a thousand) (source). When I think about that, I wonder, is this kid still alive? Dengue Fever and typhoid – easily (and cheaply) treatable diseases – are big killers in Bangladesh (especially in the cities, where this photo was taken). This kid lived in a slum (aka a “bosti”) surrounded by pools of stagnant water, trash and mosquitoes – all of which raises the odds of contracting such diseases.
Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, author of the book “The End of Poverty”, argues that extreme poverty like the kind faced by this kid can be eliminated in our lifetime. Dr. Sachs was the one who inspired me to put grad school on hold and come to Bangladesh to try and make a difference. But it’s this kid – who happened to walk up to me because he was curious about my camera – who taught me how I can make this difference. This isn’t about ending global poverty, making a statement, or changing the world. If I can make a significant difference in the life of just one person – that’s good enough for me.
As I move around Dhaka during this time of curfews and civil unrest – with photo ID in my pocket, hoping I don’t attract the attention of a soldier at a checkpoint – it’s this kid and others like him that remind me why I’m here.