Saturday, July 14, 2018

Nowhere to Call Home - Leah Denbok

Leah Denbok's book, Nowhere to Call Home: Photographs and Stories of the Homeless, came to my attention when my library ordered a number of copies. Libraries are a warm or cool place where anyone can take a seat, read a book, use a computer and most importantly, find a friendly face. Such is the case at the branch I work in.

Leah Denbok was fourteen when she first began photographing the homeless. She had personal inspiration for her book, as her own mother was found wandering the streets of Calcutta as a three year old. Leah's father accompanied Leah as she met and spoke to the homeless they encountered on the streets of Toronto, Barrie, New York City and other North American cities.

Her goal? "I hope, through my photographs and stories, to humanize the homeless. I want to capture their dignity as human beings. So often, the homeless are viewed as sub-human creatures one dare not approach, let alone talk to them. I want to change this perception of them."

Denbok's photography is striking. High contrast black and white images highlight the lines in every face, the sorrow and the strength. The words accompanying each photo achieve Denbok's goal. It's impossible not to look at the photo, read the story and then stop and examine the photo again. Does your perception change? I find myself wondering where these people are today? Have their circumstances changed?

Denbok's other goal is to '...shine a spotlight on the plight of homelessness. Contrary to what many think, few homeless people are on the street by choice." An appendix is included listing organizations who are tackling homelessness.

And the profits made from the sale of this book? "All the profits from the sale of this book will go the the Salvation Army Barrie Bayside  Mission Centre."

This is what a sixteen year old is doing. What can you do?


bermudaonion said...

So many people ignore the homeless and treat them like non-entities. I'm glad to see a book like this out there.

Kay said...

What an interesting and sobering photography study. I'm going to see if my library has ordered copies as well. The homeless in our area definitely appear in the branch library that I worked at (and now volunteer at). Almost all of them are most welcome. Only occasionally is there a problem. Sometimes I shake my head at the people who think that libraries are obsolete - their purpose past it 'due date'. They are so wrong! Thanks for bringing this book to our attention, Luanne.

Luanne said...

Bermudaonion - I agree, everyone deserves to be treated like a person, not a non-entity. I try to do that every day at work.

Kay, yes there are times that mental illness and violence means that it may not be a safe situation. But generally, it works. You've got that library mentality - libraries are hugely relevant in today's society! I hope that you can find a copy.

Icewineanne said...

This book adds so much to awareness. Hopefully libraries will really promote this book. Personally i will buy copies for myself & gifts for such a good cause.

Luanne said...

Icewineanne - it's all about awareness, looking and actually seeing people instead of looking away.