For Simon Lister, photography is a window to other parts of the world. He first picked up a camera when travelling around the globe to keep a record of the places and cultures he had come across. It wasn’t long until the Sydney-based photographer’s focus shifted. After meeting many disadvantaged families and children, Simon wanted to use photography to bring the outside world in.

Now a photographer for UNICEF worldwide, Simon has focused his personal passion on capturing the stories of children struggling to survive in the world’s poorest regions.
 
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"Every powerful image has
a powerful story behind it.”
In Bangladesh, 10-year-old Tarek, left , works in an aluminium factory in Kamrangirchar, Dhaka. © UNICEF/SimonLister
 
"It is hard labour in really harsh conditions.
They should be playing in a playground.
They should be having fun.

The documentary series Tales By Light follows Simon and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Orlando Bloom on their journey through Dhaka, Bangladesh. The film shares the stories of the lives of children living in the slums on the edge of a busy railway track, and trading school for work to support their families.

Simon’s moving photographs take viewers to the frontline of what it’s like to be one of these children working in hazardous conditions such as in balloon factories. It’s ironic, Orlando says, that balloons represent such joy and happiness at kids’ birthday parties. “These kids, do you think they have ever had a birthday party?"
(Left-right) Raihan,12, Shuvo, 11, and Tarek, 12, in the factory where they work in Kamrangirchar, Dhaka. The boys need to work to earn an income to survive. The balloon factories are hazardous as the children work with rubber acids and chemicals as part of the balloon making process. © UNICEF/SimonLister

In the densely populated country of Bangladesh, 1.4 million children are working instead of going to school. UNICEF is supporting these children by setting up emergency shelters where they can have a meal, sleep and get psychological support and counselling. We’re also ensuring those who are missing school have access to flexible education.
 
"People can only really care about
the things they know about.”
Dulaly, 10 stands with UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Orlando Bloom in Kamalapur, Dhaka. © UNICEF/SimonLister

Dulaly walks along the railway tracks to collect rubbish in order to make a living for her family. Her mother worries about her daughter working alongside passing trains. “She takes care of us in our hardship,” her mother says in the documentary. Dulaly’s situation is not uncommon, but UNICEF has set up second chance education where, for a few hours a day, children can learn and catch up on what they have missed.
 
"Nothing can speak to people
more than a powerful photograph.”
UNICEF can reach children no one else can. We are working tirelessly to strengthen child protection systems and provide safe places for children to learn and play. But we can’t do it alone. You can do your bit by signing up to make a monthly gift & joining our special group of Global Parents.

Help UNICEF deliver these things and more to every child now.

Catch Tales by Light 3 on Netflix. Follow the action on Facebook or Instagram.
 
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Simon shows children what it's like to look through a cameras lens. These children live around the old train station in Dhaka, Bangladesh. ©UNICEF/UN0264617/Untitled Film Works
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