The country where kids never smile


It’s not hard to see kids working in Jordan. In Amman, Jerash or Petra, they are everywhere trying to sell you things. In one way, it’s amazing how they learn fast the ability to trade. But in another, it’s hard to see them playing in such dark fields like child labor and predatory tourism. There is some ugliness behind those beautiful kids that the lens of my camera cannot capture.

Petra is the first girl that I met. She works selling necklaces in the streets of the city with her name. But she doesn't seem to be proud of it. The skinny, tiny, shy little girl looks tired and unhappy and when I say that I wouldn’t buy her necklaces, her disappointment broken even more my heart. But, what to do in a tricky situation like that? Buying the necklaces, I’m also being convenient with that. I could buy her necklace, but I was feeling like I was stealing her childhood too.

So, I asked her to take her portrait and say that she’s very beautiful and the young Petra finally gives one smile.

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Then I met Ali. Ali is a seven-year-old boy who sells postcards to help his family and also pay for school. He’s there, learning in the youngest age the price of education when education shouldn't have any price. The tour guide tells us his story and the group of tourists buy all his postcards. The young boy shines, and again I feel confused about giving him a smile when he’s selling his childhood to help his family.

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I met Dara, which the story I already told here. The kids of Petra give me this sensation, that we’re all playing in the fields of convenience. And me, as a foreign, don’t know how to react. I came from a poor country, where it’s not hard to find kids working too. But it doesn’t make my experience softer, or less painful. Like when I got distracted for a little cute Bedouin that was playing outside his family’s tent… Suddenly I saw five kids inside, eating in the same small plate. I couldn't pretend that I was not seeing that. I just stop and open my bag. I have 3 bananas 2 apples and a package of chocolate. I leave them all, without nobody asking me. The mom feels so happy, that she wants me to stay and have tea with them. And I accept with my eyes full of tears.

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I feel attached to a sensation of impotence when I see those kids. But we still play and laugh. I asked them to take their pictures, to say to them that for me they matter. And to say to myself that it’s possible to keep the beauty, even when I realize that we are doing terrible work when it comes to make this planet a better place for children.

I try to play, at least for some minutes. I try to show them affection with my camera instead of opening my pocket. And it’s amazing how they can understand.

But sometimes my jokes won’t make them smile, in any way. My lenses won’t make them feel important. In Jordan, I realize that they are kids who will never smile because they had their smiles already stolen in the war of Syria. Those little refugees are also working in the streets of Jordan and trying to survive. I wish I could say to them that the world could be a better playground, but I feel that it’s too late. I feel attached to a sensation of impotence when I see those kids and realize that there are countries in this world where kids never smile.

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(Jordan, 2017)

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I'm incredibly touched by this post! Great write-up and gorgeous photos. As a traveler we tend to forget in what privileged position we're in - I've had moments during my longer travels where I though 'I am not going to pull out my camera because I couldn't even blame these people if they were to steal it from me' - it's humbling and why I think traveling is such an enriching experience.

These kids are trying to survive and it's so so sad to know that some of them have forgotten how to smile.

Thanks for sharing your insightful words with us @helgalubevi!


Thanks for your kind comment @soyrosa! Yes, as travelers after a while we start to see things different because of this experiences!


Indeed it is quite a touching post @soyrosa

Dear @helgalubevi

I've been to Petra once almost 10 years ago (travelling for 2 months across middle east) and I thought that people and kids were actually smiling a lot at that time.

But that was still before war in Syria started. Most likely a lot changed since then.

Sad :(


Yeap, it's really hard to see this kids playing with work...

Hiya, @livinguktaiwan here, just swinging by to let you know that this post made the Honorable mentions list in today's Travel Digest #474.

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thank you guys! I feel glad to become part of it! ;)

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Thank you guys! Glad to be in this selection!

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Beautiful story and images @helgalubevi


thank you for your comment and visit @revo!

I get a goose pimples during I read these article. It´s so hard to see the innocent children. I can´t understand that some warmongers have fun in destroying life!


Thanks for your kind comment @yogaworld! It's crazy to realize that men arrive on the moon, but we still make wars and put kids to work. I confess to you that when I give the click to the last photo my eyes full of tears. Inside that kid there was no smile anymore. But we are here to make it better, right? Someway somehow let's do it! :)


Of course we can make the world better. Each and every day we decide about our life.
It´s absolutely crazy that some guys are so obsessed in making war. I can´t believe, but it´s reality. Time to change and make a peaceful world, where all childrens feel free to laugh.

Traveling, just like life itself, has many sides, some of them bright, some of them dark. But all of them real.
Thank you for sharing!


thanks for your visit and commenting @fotostef!

Interesting story that touched my heart.
Thank you for sharing here.

Posted using Partiko Android


thanks for your kind comment @olivia08!

Hola Helga! me emocionó mucho leer tu post. Mi opinión al respecto es bastante pesimista. Cuando estuve en la India pasaba algo parecido con los niños. Te pedían limosna y me sentía impotente pues, hagas lo que hagas, lo estarás haciendo mal. Si les das dinero, mal, porque de alguna forma alimentas las mafias que se lucran de eso, pero si no les das, te sientes fatal y te corroe un sentimiento de ruindad que podía durar hasta nuestros días. Quizás, pasar un buen rato con ellos e intentar que sonrían sea la única opción que les pueda ayudar, ¿quién sabe? y por cierto, muy bonitas las fotos :)


gracias por su comentário Beltran.

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