"Gracias por Todos los Niños" literally means "Thanks for all Children." Photographer Celia Roberts has just published her 2013 calendar, and it's in color rather than in black and white. Some other changes with this new calendar are that it reaches beyond Latinos, showing children not only in Ecuador, El Salvador and Mexico but also in India, Sri Lanka and the United States.
Roberts took two trips to India, one in 1984 and the other two years later. She had been working with The Hunger Project. The non-profit stated that hunger was being held captive by a belief system. "We have this belief we can never end world hunger," Roberts said. The Hunger Project was started by John Denver and several other people to shift the context in which we hold world hunger. "There are a lot of myths about ending hunger that just aren't true," she said. She was involved with that project beginning in 1976. "I wanted to literally experience people who were living in those conditions." So, she went to India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives with UNICEF on her first trip.
Roberts' photograph for January was taken in Sri Lanka. A young girl is shown engrossed in her schoolwork. Roberts writes, "Like many other countries, Sri Lanka requires all children to dress in a uniform which many families cannot afford. If this is the case, their children are often denied an education."
She fell in love with Sri Lanka. "It's a beautiful country. So, I felt I wanted to go back." Her second trip was with The Breakthrough Foundation. Their mission was also to shift the belief system around hunger issues. They gave workshops to the poorest of the poor and to scientists.
She observed, "The people who were easiest to convince it was their belief system that held them in place were the poorest of the poor. They were the quickest to get it. The most educated people are so convinced that they have it right...They cannot step out of their box."
There were also beliefs that, "These people aren't trying hard enough."
Roberts financed her trip by pre-selling photos from her trip. "It's a great way to raise money!"
She told the organization she would only go if she could see the results from workshops given two years previously.
"At the end of the workshop, people either individually or as a small group took on a project that before they would have thought was impossible," Roberts said. She wanted to see what was successful and unsuccessful.
A guide took her by bus to several tiny villages somewhere in central India. The first project involved setting up a sewing cooperative. They needed to get a location, sewing machines and electricity. They had organized as a group and accomplished all those components except for the electricity. Later they did get their electricity. "It showed how one component could be missing, and the whole thing would fall apart," she said.
A second project was by a woman who set up a women's health class. She trained to share ways of improving their children's health. That woman and her healthy daughter are shown in the August photograph. In two years she reduced the infant mortality rate in her village by one-half.
The calendar's May has two photographs, one from Mexico and the second from Paonia showing Penny Sutton and her Little Friends Pre-school.
The photographs in this calendar cover 18 years of Roberts' travels.
"We're not taking care of our children to the degree we can," Roberts said. And those children will determine the future.
Roberts' 2013 calendar is available in Paonia at the Blue Sage Center for the Arts, Paonia Farm and Home, The Trading Post and in Hotchkiss at The Creamery Arts Center.