Jimmy Nelson exhibition #ONCE in Kampala

What would life be like without child labour? What would it mean for children if they were simply allowed to be a child? You only get once chance in life to have a childhood. This is what photographer Jimmy Nelson shows with his impressive and positive images in #ONCE. On Thursday 23 March 2017 programme coordinator Sofie Ovaa opened the photography exhibition in Kampala, the capital of Uganda. Apart from a Stop Child Labour delegation from seven different countries, mostly people from Uganda attended this opening.

Child labour is a large problem, with numerous harrowing examples. But Jimmy Nelson opted for positive images. When seeing these wonderful photographs of happy children one overwhelming feeling remains: a feeling of hope. And this is certainly no coincidence because the children in these photographs come from Erussi, a region in the rural north-western part of Uganda where Stop Child Labour has managed to achieve magnificent results. The exhibition shows that child labour can be eradicated.

A few days earlier the children in Erussi were given the first viewing: the best photographs were handed to the schools in this child labour free zone. Laughing and pointing, they recognise boys and girls they know, their teachers or themselves. Even more enjoyable and special is the moment when ‘the making of’ film is shown in which Jimmy Nelson talks to the children himself. The most hilarious moment of the film is when the head mistress is dancing on the screen – they are all roaring with laughter. Children will always be children.

Author & photograph: Frans Dekker, Mondiaal FNV