Renee C. Byer: Living On A Dollar A Day is an examination of worldwide extreme hunger and poverty (PHOTOS).

The 1 in 6 People Around the World Who Continue to Survive on $1 or Less a Day

The 1 in 6 People Around the World Who Continue to Survive on $1 or Less a Day

Behold
The Photo Blog
Nov. 28 2014 10:00 AM

The 1 in 6 People Around the World Who Continue to Survive on $1 or Less a Day

In an e-waste dump that kills nearly everything that it touches, Fati, 8, works with other children searching through hazardous waste in hopes of finding whatever she can to exchange for pennies in order to survive. While balancing a bucket on her head with the little metal she has found, tears stream down her face as the result of the pain that comes with the malaria she contracted some years ago. This is work she must do to survive.
In an electronic waste dump that kills nearly everything it touches, 8-year-old Fati, who suffers from malaria, works with other children searching through hazardous waste in hopes of finding whatever she can to exchange it for pennies.

Renée C. Byer

Although the eradication of extreme hunger and poverty was one of the eight United Nations Millennium Development Goals put forth in 2000, one in six people around the world continues to survive on $1 or less a day.

Earlier this year, the Forgotten International, a nonprofit based in San Francisco that works to alleviate international poverty, published Living on a Dollar a Day with the help of Quantuck Lane Press. The book, with text by founder and President of the Forgotten International Thomas A. Nazario and photos by Pulitzer Prize–winner Renée C. Byer, brings a face to those who live in impoverished conditions.

Byer took a leave of absence from her job as a senior photojournalist for the Sacramento Bee and traveled to 10 countries through four continents over the course of two years. Although she had a lot of experience working as a photojournalist, this project presented new challenges. 

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“My work is on an intimate scale through a connection with my subjects,” she said. “I didn’t have that luxury with this project. I had to work through interpreters or social workers, I would have to get into the country and really explain to them my photography: how I work, how I want stories to unfold, that I don’t want to interrupt people’s patterns and that the dignity of my subjects is paramount.”

Four-year-old Ana-Maria Tudor, above, stands in the light of her doorway in Bucharest, Romania, hoping for a miracle as her family faces eviction from the only home they have ever had. Her father recently had a gall bladder surgery that resulted in an infection and left him unable to work. The one room they live in has no bathroom or running water.
Ana-Maria Tudor, 4, stands in the light of her doorway in Bucharest, Romania, as her family faces eviction. Her father recently had gall bladder surgery that resulted in an infection and left him unable to work.

Renée C. Byer

Jestina Koko, 25, with her daughter Satta Quaye, 5. Crippled since the age of three, she depends on her arms to lift and drag herself. She survives by doing laundry for others, selling cookies on the street, and begging in Monrovia, Liberia. Both of them suffer from malaria. She wishes for a wheel chair, a private room to live in and for her daughter to go to school. They sleep in the hallway of a home that has no electric, toilet or running water and own nothing. August 29, 2010.
Jestina Koko, 25, has been crippled since the age of 3 and depends on her arms to lift and drag herself. She survives by doing laundry for others, selling cookies on the street, and begging in Monrovia, Liberia. Both she and her daughter, Satta Quaye, 5, suffer from malaria.

Renée C. Byer

Labone, 27, takes a moment to hold her young daughter Nupur, 1, who was fathered by a client, before she has to return to her evening’s work in a brothel in Jessore, Bangladesh.
Labone, 27, takes a moment to hold her young daughter Nupur, 1, who was fathered by a client, before she has to return to her evening’s work in a brothel in Jessore, Bangladesh.

Renée C. Byer

In order to give her subjects context about what she was doing, Byer would show them her previous work. By doing that, she hoped to prove that she wasn’t simply a photographer looking to make a picture and run away.

“This was about understanding people and listening to their plight,” she said. “I wanted them to feel comfortable with what we were doing. Every person has a life and every person can be heard in this book: What’s the name of that child, how old is that child, what is the story behind that child, I’m trying to get that connection so people can imagine their child in this child’s shoes.”

“Some pictures are agonizingly painful to look at, but I was conscious to make them in a way that people could imagine themselves in the scene. That was the challenge to ask people to step into the photograph, could they live in these circumstances? My question is could you live in these circumstances, and if you couldn’t, why wouldn’t you want to help?”

In the Charan slum settlement of northern India, Kalpana, 20, starves one of her children Sangeeta, 2, while her sister Sarita, 5-months-old, right, sleeps in comfort, above right, in her mother's arms. Sangeeta only weighs 9 pounds. Children are more likely to appeal to the sympathy of those inclined to give to beggars, so those who beg use children for this purpose. Worse, sometimes as in this case a child is staved and carried about by the child’s parent while she begs on the streets or rented out to another beggar to be used as an object of sympathy in the hope of generating more income over the course of a given day. Sometimes these “extra funds” are used to feed other children, thus, in practice, one child is sacrificed for he sake of others. Sangeeta has since been helped by the Tong-Len Charitable Trust’s mobile medical clinic at the Charan slum settlement, Dharamsala, India. But according to the World Bank 19,000 children die a day from preventable causes.
In the slums of northern India, Kalpana, 20, starves one of her children Sangeeta, 2, while her sister Sarita, 5 months, sleeps. Sometimes a child is starved to appear sympathetic in the hope of generating more income while begging. This money is often used to feed other children, thus, in practice, one child is sacrificed for the sake of others.

Renée C. Byer

A sea of people passes by Hunupa Begum, 13, who has been blind for the past 10 years and lives close to the Nizamudin Bangala Masjid (Mosque) in New Delhi, India. She begs as the only source of income for her family that consist of a brother Hajimudin Sheikh, 6, center, who suffers fluids that accumulate in his head and her mother Manora Begum, 35, right, who suffers from Asthma, and she has a womb ailment and can't do manual labor. Their father Nizam Ali Sheikh died ten years ago of Tuberculosis. Her wheelchair was donated by a passerby.
A sea of people passes by Hunupa Begum, 13, who has been blind for the past 10 years and lives close to the Nizamudin Bangala Masjid Mosque in New Delhi, India. She begs as the only source of income for her family. Her wheelchair was donated by a passerby.

Renée C. Byer

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After spending two years making the photographs, Byer spent another two years editing the images and strategizing how to get the message out since she feels “a huge responsibility to my subjects. It’s not just enough to make a photograph—you have to get that photograph into a place where it can help.”

One of the hardest parts of editing was the understanding that a lot of people’s stories wouldn’t be heard. Byer hopes to get a website up that includes all of the outtakes from the book to continue the conversation.

“Painful,” she said about not being able to include everyone in the book. “Extremely painful. There are still photographs that tug at my heart I would love to put in the book … there’s only so much you can publish, there are several instances where I would lose sleep over those that didn’t make it into the book.”

Phay Phanna, 60, lost his leg when he stepped on a land mine in 1988 near the Cambodian-Thai border. He is a widower and is the sole head of his family, caring for 11 children in a home he does not own. It has been scheduled for demolition since being purchased by a private developer in 2008 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Phay Phanna, 60, lost his leg when he stepped on a land mine in 1988 near the Cambodian–Thai border. He is a widower caring for 11 children in a home that has been scheduled for demolition in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Renée C. Byer

Following the death of his father, Alvaro Kalancha Quispe, 9, helps his family survive by herding. He opens the gate to the stone pen that holds the family's alpacas and llamas each morning so they can graze throughout the hillsides during the day. He then heads off to school, but must round them up again in the evening in the Akamani mountain range of Bolivia in an area called Caluyo, about an hour from the city of Qutapampa.In this part of the world, the highlands of Bolivia, approximately 13,000 feet above sea level, residents live in homes with no insulation, no electricity, and no beds. Their water comes from streams that run off the snow-covered mountains. Their livelihood lies with their animals, for each animal produces about three pounds of fur each year, and each pound of fur is sold for 18 bolivianos, which amounts to about $2.50 U.S. All in all, this family may earn about $200 of income each year from the herd they watch over.
Following the death of his father, Alvaro Kalancha Quispe, 9, helps his family survive by herding in Bolivia. All in all, his family may earn about $200 of income each year from the herd they watch over.

Renée C. Byer

David Rosenberg is the editor of Slate’s Behold blog. He has worked as a photo editor for 15 years and is a tennis junkie. Follow him on Twitter.