What if you were a child with potential worth a vista but were born and bred in darkness? What if you had futile dreams given the ebb of survival in Kolkata’s (Calcutta, India) red light area? Such was the epoch that little Avijit and his friends aspired in their uphill battle until Zana Briski, photographer, filmmaker and activist saw the unseen blooming in their dingy rooms. Zana’s appetite for giving back and her ardor to share smiles through her lenses gave a group of deprived children the pursuit of happiness. Grooming an excited bunch of children on photographic skills to recognize their hidden talents gave these hapless a light of hope.
Zana’s movie ‘Born into Brothels,’ an Oscar winning documentary on the emotions of these little children in the red light district portrays that happiness is inborn. It’s an expression that is not bound by destiny but by desire. Like the Midas touch, happiness is a brush of life that has the power to endow love and cheer in an eclectic relationship called humanity. Zana’s altruism is a snap shot of brilliance with purpose that also captures incredible moments of euphoria amid eclipse. Zana’s non-profit; ‘Kids with Camera’ is a venture that empowers heap of creativity while refurbishing innocent lives. Through its charitable efforts it reinstates that happiness is a treasure of the soul, which contagiously multiplies as we reach out to the helpless and the needy.
Most talented out of the bunch of these street children, Avijit who decade ago led a bleak life on the somber lanes of Kolkata (Calcutta), today is a budding artist at New York University’s Tisch School of Arts. His other street buddies too see a pie in the sky. Some of these children can fluently communicate in English today and are setting an example for others like them. Zana Briski’s ‘kids with camera’ that funds Avijit’s education in the US and of his friends and their siblings back in India illustrates that happiness is actually contentment. Its vivacity lies in sharing the elation of our heart to fill dreary lives through community service and social good. Like Zana Briski we all have a colorful fountain of affection and peace inside us that adorns our conscience. This feeling of pleasure is a paradise beyond material prosperity. It starts with exploring our true self to generate mirth in helping others. Such serene sense often lies covered beneath a worldly merriment. To uncover this strength we need to effectuate change for greater good. When such realization seeds in us we become mindful of paying it forward. This feeling of giving and receiving love is nothing but happiness.