The Unsolved Question
Our team has been working in the early childhood care and education field for quite some time now. We have been leveraging technology in order to introduce caregivers to the importance and responsive caregiving practices. A lot of research in this field is focussed on “ What needs to happen” Or “What is good for the child” in their early years. But one question that stuck with was, “What’s actually happening in the daily lives of caregivers living in India? To uncover this, our team decided to explore and find answers to these questions.
The thirst for answers
The best way to go about it was to write down what, why and how we wanted to do it. We created documents and had multiple brainstorming sessions to draw answers to these questions. We finally concluded that, first and foremost, we wanted to demystify the concept of responsive caregiving through real-life stories of caregivers and children in the Indian context. And this deep dive had the power to foster a nuanced conversation by unlocking how parent-child interactions and a conducive home environment are key to a child’s holistic development.
Inspiration and Beyond
Taking cues and inspiration from books such as “Where Children Sleep?” and “Children Just Like Me”, we wanted to explore using visual media to build a nuanced profile of those responsive caregiving practices. This approach, we envisioned, could bring the stories we captured alive and showcase each family's rich and diverse journey, leaving an everlasting impression on the audience. Hence, we decided to dive into a photostory project to showcase each family's varied responsive caregiving moments.
The Stepping Stones
As the next step, we identified a few families in Uttrakhand, where our program is operational. As far as possible, we wanted to cover the entire spectrum of characteristics such as rural and urban locations, nuclear and joint families, varied employment profiles of family members and a wide range of children's ages.
Of course, we sought relevant permissions from the government stakeholders. And finally, with the support of Anganwadi workers and Supervisors, we finalised the 6 families across various regions of Dehradun after interacting with and seeking permission from each family.
Our North Star
Simultaneously, we hunted a few media agencies, photographers and partners who would help us bring light to the project. Fortunately, Siriti, a creative media agency and Ekstep Foundation partnered with us to execute the project. We created our proposals and ideated together on the further process of the project.
Turning The Unturned
Our team created a research tool consisting of questions and key observation pointers concerning responsive caregiving that we wanted to identify for each family. During the first phase, we visited the identified 6 families with the Anganwadi workers. The aim was to make the families comfortable and seek their consent to participate in the project.
Next, along with our partners, we planned a shooting schedule considering the family's availability and convenience. The experience of meeting and interacting with children and their families was beyond our imagination. All of them welcomed and supported us during the entire shoot. Before commencing the shoot, we spent enough time connecting with the children and families. This enabled everyone involved to become comfortable with each other. Our attempt was to capture candid moments without interference or instructions from us. Our photographers were constantly on their toes capturing those teeny tiny caregiving moments. We did face a few challenges while shooting, such as inclement weather and the unavailability of some family members, etc. But we soldiered on and did our best to conclude the project satisfactorily.
The Final Gateway
The moments of care between the caregivers and the child, which we experienced in real-time, can’t be put into words. But we owe it to those not present to give them a glimpse of this magnificent experience. So, we penned down the stories of each family, emphasising the science behind those practices. We created a micro-site to showcase those shared moments of talk, care and play!