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Analysis Of The Photograph “Starving Boy And Missionary”

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This photograph was taken by Mike Wells in Uganda in the year 1980. The photo is a low close-up shot. It is lit from the top which brings focus to the subject of the image; the contrasting hands. I feel this picture is a powerful image even after being taken years ago. The photographer’s intention was to share the feelings with his audience. This photo can be seen from two perspectives: From the racist perspective and the helping hand perspective.

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Seeing this photo at first, the word “racism” comes to my head considering I’m a visual minority and I am from a third world country. It shows how the impoverished would always be under the wealthy people. How the wealthy will always be the helping hand and superior to other people. It is like we have to depend on them for survival and they are feeding off this or it’s just a game to them and they are trying to get more subjects and power. This photo tells a story about a young boy that is suffering from starvation or a disease. Starvation is one of the world’s most concerning problems especially in third world countries such as Uganda, Ethiopia, Chad, Sudan, Haiti etc. The absence of the basic necessities in life for the population that are impoverished. This is caused by poor governance, food shortages, drought, natural disasters, politicians embezzling funds etc. From this photo, you can tell this child is in his/her toddler stage; an orphan that has been living on the streets for a long time.

This picture represents a helping hand. The hand on the top resembles those of an ill-malnourished person. It can also be the hand of a person suffering from a person suffering from a fatal disease. The cause of the loss of flesh or body fats might be unknown, but this is definitely the hand of a child suffering. Sometimes we forget how lucky we are in this world and we tend to overspend and look down on those “below” us. We forget how unlucky they are and how much they are suffering. We get so self-concerned and worried about not eating enough, we tend to overbuy food or make a lot of food and end up wasting, completely forgetting there are people who have nothing to consume. The hand on the bottom signifies hope, care, protection, and love. It has the strength to nurture and care for the starving boy. The hand signifies those of a member of a union that is devoted to helping the less privileged community. They travel around the world to third world countries to support them and protest against bad governance.

This photo was put out for an activist audience that would help create awareness about children suffering, volunteer to help and feed these children and devote their time to grooming them. Not everyone is power obsessive, some people just want everyone to have a peaceful life. They would wish for everyone to be seen as equals and a part of the society. These missionaries that travel around the world to help people are one of those people. They are a bridge between the impoverished and the wealthy.

This photo still has great meanings even in this modern age. It still represents both perspectives I talked about above. Racism is still a very huge problem in the world. Children are still dying all around the world (especially in the third world countries) because they lack the basic necessities. The missionary in this photo has created a bridge and I can only hope that the bridge becomes stronger and one day, we can all live peacefully.

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