A Better Tomorrow by Lorenzo Ali
I’m often asked about the backstories behind some of my images.
This is a photo of village children happily swimming in a shallow stagnant basin of water at the foot of one of the biggest landfill sites in Kolkata.
The previous year was a desperately tragic one for me. My eldest son was taken from me without warning, swiftly followed by my dad and Mother-in-law.
At the time I was honestly in meltdown and denial at the same time. I was at my lowest point and needed to escape. My world had been crushed.
My dad was born in Guyana from Indian and Chinese heritage. I’d only known fragments of his past and decided to find out more about him and discover the village where his/my ancestors had originated from in the late 1800’s. After a lot of travel and several adventures, I not only found the village but also some relatives! However, that's another story!
I stopped in Kolkata for a week before continuing on to Myanmar and Thailand. Whilst there I met a lovely guy called Ritodhi who introduced me to a huge landfill site, East of Kolkata. I could barely take in the putrid expanse filling the horizon in the stifling heat. In an area where you’d expect nothing but agony and despair there was a continuous traffic of industry.
Mostly women, children and pigs searching and sorting through this gargantuan mountain of trash to make a living from the constant ejection of Kolkata’s waste. No lost opportunities here!
But it was more to it than just a fetid mass of rotting waste.
Here was a village, real community, that somehow lived and appeared to thrive despite the enormous dangers and difficulties. Regardless of my own desperate self pity I was blown away. As I walked, taking everything in, I was welcomed with nothing but courtesy and kindness.
How could anybody survive here and still be smiling in what would be a living hell for most of us?
It’s the strength of humanity in adversity that really humbles you. We all have value no matter what.
Hell and happiness are only relative.