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Julio Etchart

I photographed this boy in the playground of a youth centre run by Nicaragua’s YMCA – supported by the London-based charity Y Care International – in Managua. Located in the Acahualinca area of Managua, a very poor neighbourhood near the municipal garbage dump, the centre offers training and recreational activities for disadvantaged and working youth. They are encouraged to run their own facilities and the workshop makes among other things, swings and playground equipment like the one enjoyed by the boy in the picture.

This image is part of ‘The Playing Fields’, a long-term photographic project which I have been developing for more than five years.

As a photographer who has covered development issues for many years, I have witnessed a fair amount of injustice and poverty around the world.

It became my personal crusade to document the world of toys and games, from the factory to the playground via the shopping mall, from rich kids to humble shantytown and rural children.

Play is precious to children. It is a time for growing and learning or just having fun.

The toys children play with tell us much about their lives. Many poorer children can’t take their toys for granted. They may have to work, or fight a war, or they are refugees on the run. Yet even in the worst situations you find children making do with wonderfully improvised toys made from tin cans, wire or wood – whatever they can lay their hands on.

*Julio Etchart*, a Uruguayan photographer currently based in London, Britain.

New Internationalist issue 333 magazine cover This article is from the April 2001 issue of New Internationalist.
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