Stop Child Labour and Jimmy Nelson illustrate the positive impact of child labour free zones


Stop Child Labour presents the #ONCE photo exhibition. Powerful photographs of a journey to a child labour free zone in Uganda, taken by renowned photographer Jimmy Nelson, author of the book ‘Before They Pass Away’. The exhibition shows that it’s possible to eradicate child labour and what it means for children to be children. It’s an opportunity millions of children worldwide are denied because they have to work, day in and out, in unhealthy and often unsafe conditions. #ONCE shows, through positive images, that you only have one chance to be a child.


Jimmy Nelson’s photographs show children in a child labour free zone in Uganda. Stop Child Labour believes in the strength of these child labour free zones. These are zones, such as a town or village, where everyone is convinced that no child should work and every child must go to school. Teachers, local authorities, village leaders, employers, parents and children in these zones work together to get children out of work and into school. The children portrayed in the exhibition symbolise the millions of children who have to work every day. Stop Child Labour supports efforts to expand and strengthen child labour free zones worldwide. Experience shows that these efforts pay off, not only in Uganda but other countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America too.

“I would like to turn perceptions on their head, because I believe all these negative images fail to bring across a powerful, constructive message. Negative pictures are easy to take – anyone can do this with a long lens. It doesn’t need any legwork, relationship or emotional connection. It’s much more complicated to make positive images. You have to invest much more in what you see and what you do, for it involves personal contact and respect for the individual. It inspires you to create something you find attractive and that touches you. I hope many people come to see the exhibition, and I’m eager to travel back to share the results with the children.”

“There is a lot of talk about the problem of child labour, but far too little is being done about it,” says Sofie Ovaa, Programme Manager of the Stop Child Labour coalition.

“We want to show, with these positive images, that it is possible to make a difference. We also want to encourage everyone to speak out against child labour, to take responsibility and to work together to create a world where children no longer work but can truly be children and can go to school. Jimmy Nelson’s iconic work accentuates this positive message and the opportunities these children have.”

The photo exhibition runs from 7 October to 27 November and can be seen at the Hutspot conceptual store at Van Woustraat 4 in Amsterdam. Admission is free. Jimmy Nelson chose a theme based on signs to give the children a task. They were encouraged to think about a feeling, an emotion or a dream. Then the children portrayed the emotion or dream onto signs which they made themselves.

Jimmy Nelson: ”This journey was especially about having fun with the children. The words on the signs and the feelings experienced by the children made it more intense and more emotional. It makes you realise that it’s truly about the children – children who are basically the same all over the world but whose conditions have such a huge impact on them. They must be given a fair chance.”

#ONCE is part of the Gold in your hands campaign by the Stop Child Labour coalition. The Gold in your hands campaign is especially relevant to consumers. Almost everyone these days has a laptop, a mobile phone or a flatscreen in which gold has been processed. You literally have gold in your hands. Gold that could be linked to child labour. Worldwide, more than one million children work in gold mines. The electronics sector – one of the largest buyers of gold in the world – includes influential companies that can make a real difference. Sadly, electronics companies do almost nothing to stop child labour in the gold-mining industry. Stop Child Labour does not accept this and urges electronics companies to take responsibility.

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