What Poor People Have

view of Indian slum home

These photos were published a couple of months ago, but I just ran into them today. A Norwegian photojournalist spent six weeks living in the slums of Nairobi, Caracas, and Jakarta. He took panoramic photographs of the homes that he saw there.

I found them extremely moving, in an unexpected way. This is not the usual set of poverty pity tragic pictures. That element is there – what do you say about the family in Jakarta living in a house you can’t stand up in? But what struck me was just how homey many of these slum dwellings are. No matter how small or desperate the structure was, people were doing their best to make it a home. The pictures feature decorations, family photos – efforts to make the spaces personal and welcoming.

It was a strong reminder of just how similar we humans are at our core. It was also a strong reminder that no matter how poor a person might be, you can never say they have nothing.

Photo credit: Jonas Bendiksen