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.
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.
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.
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.