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Santa Barbara Exhibit to Showcase Photos Taken by Cambodian Orphans

Photographs taken by children at Sunrise Children’s Village orphanages in Cambodia will be exhibited by The Cambodian Photography Project on Friday, Sept. 26 at the Santa Barbara Art Foundry, 120 Santa Barbara St.

The event, from 6 to 9 p.m., is free and open to the public. Images will be for sale, with proceeds donated to Sunrise Children’s Villages.

The Cambodian Photography Project, created by Marisa Heller, 29, was conducted at orphanages in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.

Heller and a small group of photographers donated their time and provided digital cameras to some 40 disadvantaged and orphaned children (ages 9 to 18). The young photographers took part in daily photography lessons, then documented their lives through photography using the skills they had learned.

“The images have a unique quality with a viewpoint that can only be captured from a child’s perspective,” Heller says.

The exhibit at the Santa Barbara Art Foundry will feature dozens of colorful images as well as portraits and stories about the young photographers and their home, Sunrise Children’s Village. There will also be music and wine.

Heller developed the idea for the project after she and longtime friend Tiana Leeds, 29, of Santa Barbara, toured Southeast Asia. The two women were visiting an orphanage in Siem Reap where the children used the women’s cameras to take photos. Captivated by the results, Heller created the nonprofit 501(c)(3) photo project. Geraldine Cox, founder and president of Sunrise Children’s Villages, thought the concept fit in well with her goal of expanding opportunities and learning for children at the orphanages.

“Although I don’t usually take volunteers, there was just something about your enthusiasm that I liked,” Cox said of Heller’s proposal. “And the kids learning another skill like photography, I thought, well that’s really worthy. And when young people give up their time to come and help us, why would I say no?”

Heller is a graduate of the University of San Francisco. She is a Santa Barbara native who attended San Marcos High School, La Colina Junior High and Roosevelt Elementary School.

For more information, visit at The Cambodian Photography Project’s Facebook page or the project‘s website by clicking here.

— PJ Heller represents The Cambodian Photography Project.

 

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