There are estimated 10 million children in India who live on a ruthless world of streets. Each day they toil, in hunger, without proper shoes, clothes and shelter and they face predators masquerading as friends. Their life is not easy, yet they are not without joy and hope. Selling newspapers on traffic signals during the day so that they can go to a night school; washing dishes in roadside eateries in order to give a better life to a sibling; and rummaging through heaps of garbage to earn enough money to buy necessities, they look for happiness in the most wretched situations. In their eyes is a dream, a glimmer of light that guides them in these dark circumstances. I started photographing street children in 2005 hoping to capture their spirit along with their circumstances. What also encouraged me to present this pictorial narrative of their lives was my own past. I ran away from home when I was 11 and spent a big chunk of my life on the streets of Delhi before an NGO took me under its wing and helped me achieve my dream of becoming a photographer. Having lived this life I think that buried beneath all this misery can be a gritty determination and shining optimism. I do not aim to shock the viewer by painting a bleak picture of despair and point fingers for their apathy. Instead of confrontation, I attempt to portray this difficult world with the soothing balm of a child's hopes. A boy joyfully looking at the pictures in the newspaper; two girls playing on a railway platform; group of boys bathing near railway lines; a small boy relaxing under the flyover: each picture is an account of the optimism that these children have imbibed despite the cruel twists of life. At the same this project is also a plea to give these children a chance, in achieving their dreams. My own story had a happy ending and I wish an equally fulfilling life for all these children.
Originally from West Bengal, Vicky Roy ran away from his home and started working as a rag picker at the New Delhi Railway Station, before he was rehabilitated by the Salaam Baalak Trust, Delhi. He studied photography at Triveni Kala Sangam and then apprenticed under Anay Mann. In 2007, he held his first solo exhibition titled, “Street Dream” at India Habitat Centre; supported by the British High Commisson. In 2008 he was selected by the US based Maybach Foundation to photo document the reconstruction of the World Trade Center in New York. As part of the program, he undertook a course in documentary photography at the International Center for Photography, New York. His first monograph ‘Home Street Home’ published by the Nazar Foundation released at the second edition of the Delhi Photo Festival (Sept-Oct, 2013) and he was awarded the MIT Media Fellowship in 2014. He was a part of the Forbes Asia 30 under 30 list in 2016.