Having a little fun at my expense, this cheeky little bugger is too cute to kill.
I always wanted to do a photo essay on the subject of street kids in Kota Kinabalu at its ironic that I only managed to get about it now when I was there for a day when I had five years previously to do so. These kids comprise of both locals and foreigners particularly those from the Philippines and Indonesia whose parents arrive here through both legal and illegal means. Most of then are without citizenships and thus are not entitled to education, health and social benefits that we enjoy, in other words they live in limbo from day to day. Yet if you meet them they are just like any other children with the innocence and joviality that only children can possess. Most follow their parents who are traders here or act individually to serve as bag carriers to the myriad people shopping for groceries at the Kota Kinabalu Market, exchanging services for a few cents of coins which will likely be used to supplement their parent's meager earnings to ensure that they survive the day with food and shelter if any are to be had. These photos tell their stories and we may have to look at ourselves and question who is entitled to be citizens and who are the foreigners, particularly in Sabah.
Different reaction from different kids are the norm, some are natural posers that will keep on following me to get in front of my shots, others are more reserved like this kid who stares warily, others are just plain afraid and hid from my lens probably from advice not to have their face so easily identifiable in case I'm from the authority.
Portage for cash, offering to carry heavy packs of vegetables and meat for customers for a few cents.
In the absence of any family structure, kids find other avenues to give them a sense of belonging, forging close ties with one another as if thats the only form of 'family' they will ever see.
Unabashed, this guy got in front of my camera countless of times and kept on saying 'ambil gambar ambil gambar!'
Are we exploiting them or are we helping them to earn a living? Western child labour laws isn't known here.
A look straight from Dicken's novel as if he's saying "Please sir can I have some more?"
Though he may look shabby and messy his eyes shone with an intelligence borne more from surviving on the streets than any formal learning.
Life isn't too hard if there are others of similar situations as these boys gang up together.
Taking a moment to rest in her mother's arms as she mans the vegetable stall at Kota Kinabalu Market.