I climb the wooden stairs & there encounter smiling faces – Suzana, Juan Pablo, Chuz, Jose – tonight is all about them; their photos hung with care, framed in black, for all to see. “Abriendo La Caja de Lustre” (Opening the Shoeshine Box) is the title of the exhibit.
People begin to arrive, greeted by this quote from The Darkroom Project’s website:
Watching a refugee (in this case street youth) hold a photograph for the first time, a photograph they have taken with their own hands, changes the fabric of their story. They have created art and they are proud. When the world has rejected, beaten, and told them they are worthless, this photo reminds them that they have a story to share and they can overcome the world.
Suzana shares about her photo of a fifty-quetzal bill (more than she makes in a day selling candy). She found it on the sidewalk & decided that finders truly are keepers.
Chuz points out his photo of a big house – some day he will have one, some day he will no longer only rent a room.
Jose chuckles as he looks at his photo of a friend with a cell phone. “I want that cell phone,” he confesses.
Each photo tells a story, portrays a dream, confesses a struggle….a snapshot into each one’s life. Their lives are hard. Their hearts are soft if you give them a chance to share. Tonight is all about them.