A malnourished, 13 year old boy is helped by volunteers.
At 13 years old, Luis is lucky to be alive. Born with brain damage, he was the outcast of the family and often left for dead. At 11 years old, his uncle found him in the back room of his house, chained to a bed and nearly unconscious. He was taken to a local help center that serves severely malnourished children. This center was able to bring Luis back to a healthy weight. He was reunited with his family. Less than two years later, he was returned to the center. The mother had died, the dad had committed suicide and the uncle was in no position to be a parent. With little to no strength or ability to do anything on his own, Luis is currently being fed, bathed, diapered and cared for by the volunteers and staff at the center. Although they are confident he will gain weight, Luis's long term future is grim. The most viable option for a child in his condition is institutionalization. In the thoughts of many at the center, there is really no difference between that and a death sentence. Luis’s story is one of many. A needle in a haystack, per se. This project is digging through that haystack and drawing attention to the plight of children around the world who are struggling to survive. Their stories need to be told and retold. For many of these children, there is nothing but darkness and gloom and death. But for some, like Luis, there may be a silver lining. Organizations and people across the globe are finding ways to help. They are giving money, time and heart to these kids. Through the telling of their stories I can only hope that others will be inspired to do the same.
Ali Denney is a humanitarian and documentary photographer focused on raising awareness of global needs and assisting non-profits and NGO's. She lives in San Diego, California with her husband and two children.