Images of Poverty II

Florin already posted on this back in May, so I wasn’t going to write about it, but I received a tweet on my twitter a couple of days ago that an advertisement for Right to Play had been selected for the Communication Arts Advertising Annual. It just so happens that I wrote a post about this specific advertisement on my blog (click here). The post is related to what Florin wrote about in May regarding the images that organizations use to publicize, advocate, educate, and raise money for their causes.

Here are some links to the RTP advertisements.



They are just short clips, but the images and text are very loaded. The first commercial titled ‘assembly’ is of a young boy putting together a gun. The text on the screen says ‘let him be good at something else/ let him play’. It conjures images of victimized child soldiers and then pleads with the concerned viewer to allow him to play. The second commercial has a young boy playing in a dump, using an object – maybe a discarded computer component – as a toy car. The text pops up and says ‘this shouldn’t be so fun for him/ let him play’. Again, it represents a situation where the child is a victim and the audience has the power to let him play – even though he is playing, just not in the proper way I suppose.

Anyways, I thought I would just post this as an extension on what Florin already posted.

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Shawn graduated from UBC a number of years ago when he completed a Bachelor of Human Kinetics, followed by a Bachelor of Education. Not really interested in toiling away in a particular school district in B.C., he decided to go abroad and ended up teaching P.E. in China. His last year coincided with the Beijing Olympics and seemed like a fitting way to conclude his time in Asia. Through work and travel experiences he took an interest in international issues and development and completed a Certificate in International Development through UBC Continuing Studies. Shawn returned to Canada and worked for a year as a teacher-on-call before deciding it was time to explore his interest in international development a bit more. He is now working in Lesotho (a small country inside of South Africa) on an HIV/AIDS project run by the Lesotho Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (LENEPWHA). The project has a sport-for-development component that is using soccer to reach out to, and provide services for, orphaned and vulnerable children. At the same time Shawn had also applied to start graduate studies at UBC and will officially start his MA this year. His posts will reflect his personal and work experiences in Lesotho, and the concept of sport as a tool in development.

2 Responses to “Images of Poverty II”

  1. Dominika

    I think this is a great post – really sums up all of the “White Man to Save Developed World” sentiments that swirl around the aid and development industry.

    I agree that in the first video, the child is seen as a victim and only the privileged viewer of said video has the opportunity and “responsibility” to help save the child. However, I do agree with the underlying sentiment, which is that having children act as soldiers robs them of their childhood and much much more.

    I cannot, however, say the same about the second video. Aside from the same condescending message as the above video, the basic idea that this child should not enjoy playing with discarded pieces of plastic (or whatever it may be) is absolutely ridiculous. Possible safety hazards notwithstanding, it imposes Western cultural standards about what is ?appropriate? to enjoy playing with. It essentially implies that there must be something seriously wrong here for the child to enjoy playing with this discarded item; clearly, children should only garner enjoyment and happiness when playing with shiny new toys sold for exorbitant prices. Do children in developed Western countries not also play with sticks, rocks, and random bits of whatever they happen to pick up? Clearly, these imaginative children that can?t afford to play ?properly? are being robbed of their childhood.

  2. Shawn Forde

    Thanks for the comment Dominika. I agree with what you have said.

    I suppose the issue I have with the child soldier advertisement is that it may be exploiting the phenomenon for fund raising purposes.

    I know that RTP has worked with former child soldiers, but I have a feeling that the proportion of their advertising dedicated to it, is not representative of what they are actually doing.

    Maybe it is a necessary evil though for organizations like RTP to raise money.

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