Cambodia On My Mind at Smooch

Cambodia On My Mind: Photographs by Amir Ebrahimi is a photo exhibition going on at Smooch.

“Cambo on my mind” is a series of images taken while visiting my brother in Cambodia the summer of 2006. My brother, Nader Ebrahimi, has been a huge influence in my life. My move from San Francisco to New York in 1998 was due in part to my brother who was living and working as an artist in New York City at the time. Nader grew tired of New York and moved to Spain in 2003. Three years later, he traveled to Cambodia to shoot a job on the sex slave trade. Learning how fragile the lives of poor young children where in Cambodia is what made my brother finally move out to Phnom Phen after just four months in Barcelona, where he just couldn’t get Cambo off his mind.

In February 2006, my brother began volunteering at an orphanage in Phnom Phen, Cambodia in order to teach English, Photography, and Painting. In a very short time, Nader became very close to the kids yet he had become suspicious about the management of the orphanage. Many of his concerns were valid which meant that he began to spend more time at the orphanage. Due to systems in Phnom Phen, there was very little my brother could do to ensure the well-being of the children which led to a great deal of frustration. Nader met Amjad and Fauzia, a couple who had recently lost their daughter Aziza at the young age of ten.

In 2003, they founded The Aziza Foundation in an effort to support the neediest of children as well as those who can facilitate a better life for them. While volunteering at the orphanage, they approached Nader directly about managing the foundation’s funds to help the children in the orphanage. My brother felt that this could be the solution to his angst; however, he declined because he did not have the resources or support to manage funds at that time. The couple returned to Michigan yet stayed in contact with my brother. After a couple of months Nader came up with the idea of starting something from scratch. Nader pitched the idea of Aziza’s Place and they agreed.

Since then Nader committed to be totally involved with every aspect of Aziza’s Place. Aziza’s place opened in Phnom Phen on February 14th 2007. My visit with my brother and the orphanage has made a huge impact on me. These portraits are illustrations of my interactions with the children. It took me one week until I felt comfortable photographing them. But in no time, the children were setting up shots like the one of Sophan wearing my sunglasses. Some of the children at the original orphanage have been transferred to Aziza’s Place where my brother cares for them.

Foundation’s site: http://www.azizafoundation.org/

Photographer’s site: www.amirnyc.com



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