Charity project captures life in the Guizhou countryside
Wang Bangbi, 30, and his classmates have taken more than 5,000 family photos for free in poor villages in Guizhou province since 2012 in the hope of giving those people a memorable experience.
With his team, composed of photography majors from Guizhou Normal University, Wang has visited 16 remote villages in the past five years, taking photos of poor families. For many villagers, it was the first time they had had their photo taken.
Wang is from an impoverished family himself — he was the last one in his class to buy a camera due to financial constraints.
“In 2009, my mom used money that was supposed to be for buying her medicine to buy me a camera worth 12,000 yuan ($1,750),” he said. “However, I will never have the chance to take a family photo for my family because my mom died two months after she bought me the camera.
“It was so upsetting for me, and it is what gave me the idea of taking pictures for poor families like mine.”
In July 2012, Wang contacted several students, who supported his idea and collected 3,300 yuan by working parttime jobs.
They spent the money on paper, ink and other materials. Then, they went to the villages of Zhongzhai and Duoque in Guizhou’s Liupanshui city, carrying camera equipment, tents and food rations.
“In the beginning, nobody believed us,” Wang said. “We showed the village committee an introduction letter from our university, and it wasn’t until we gave some young villagers photos that we took of them that people believed we were doing it for free.”
On the second day, villagers showed up wearing their best clothes, waiting in a line and hoping to have their first-ever picture taken.
That was the 11-member team’s first charity trip. They walked for three hours in the mountains to reach the area, lived in tents and ate meals of compressed biscuits.
“We didn’t want to disrupt the lives of locals,” Wang said.
Soon, many more students at the university wanted to join the team.
“Every member of the team can gain something from the charity trips, especially when they witness the sincerity in the smiles of the villagers when they see their photos,” Wang said.
A family in Liupanshui, Guizhou province, poses for a group photo. Wang Bangbi’s team has taken more than 5,000 family photos for poor villagers in Guizhou since 2012.
Two children show off their smiles for the volunteer photographers.
A member of Wang’s team shows his photos to two sisters.