Children on the move in Johannesburg, South Africa have taken pictures of the daily challenges they have to overcome as part of a photo exhibition highlighting their struggles.

Pollution, adults drinking and smoking, child abuse, dilapidated buildings, violence, xenophobia and reckless driving were just some of the issues youths raised by pointing their cameras and clicking.

“This situation is really difficult to change because some people just don’t care and don’t want to listen, they just want to do whatever they want,” said Rahma Musa Mohammed, 14, a child from Somalia currently living in the Mayfair district of the city..

Ten young people from the Yeoville and Mayfair districts of Johannesburg took pictures for the exhibition, which was organised by the Jesuit Refugee Service in partnership with Terres des Hommes (Germany) and the University of South Africa’s Institute for Social and Health Science.

The young photographers who took the pictures protested at how they could not overcome the challenges depicted on their own. They asked for the help and dedication of the people attending the exhibit to work with them and improve their communities.

“It is time to start recycling and working to make people aware of the causes and effects of pollution. On top of that, we should foster tolerance, respect for diversity and civic responsibility,” said Thomas Kangakwane, 14, another child who took part in the project.

In all, the day was informative, educative and entertaining. But most importantly, the children were not only seen but also heard. Their concerns and opinions were brought to the fore, with exhibition attendees also now incorporating the children’s views into how they see the communities they come from.

Aside from the issues highlighted within the community, the Photovoice exhibition also aimed to inspire change within the photographers themselves. Hopefully, youth participants will have felt increased levels of self-esteem and a stronger sense of community through taking part in the project, as well as picking up practical photographic skills.

The exhibit, a Photovoice exhibition called ‘Protection through People and Places’, was held on Wednesday 2 August 2017.

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