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Winners announced in 4th Lens on Development 2017 photo contest by MFA and National Geographic Poland

“Held by the MFA and the world-renowned National Geographic, this contest offers insights into development issues which affect many people and societies,” Deputy Foreign Minister Bartosz Cichocki said at a Lens on Development gala award ceremony, which was held at the FOKSAL Press Centre (Journalist’s House) in Warsaw on 12 December 2017. Now in its fourth edition, the contest is organised by the MFA’s Department of Development Cooperation and the National Geographic Poland magazine.

Lens on Development is a cyclical event. Every two years, it attracts great interest from those sensitive to issues weighing on developing countries. Apart from selecting best artistic photograph, the contest is designed to raise awareness of Polish society about problems of the Global South, and to improve knowledge about the Sustainable Development Goals. This year’s contest had three categories: Democracy and Human Rights in Development, Education and Entrepreneurship as Keys to Better Lives, and Human Impact on the Environment.


Lens on Development 2017 awards went to:


GRAND PRIX: Piotr Chrobot, for Silence

Nepal. The streets of Kathmandu, in the heart of the Himalayas, are home to over 1,000 child beggars, called by the locals “Kathe,” or trash children. They mostly roam popular tourist spots. The children are forced into begging by their parents, who have made this practice a source of livelihood, counting on foreign tourists’ thick wallets and generosity. The photograph depicts such begging siblings. 


In the Democracy and Human Rights in Development category:

I prize: Damian Lemański, for Boy with Fish


On the beach of Mauretania’s Nouakchott, children stray amid thousands of fishermen and hundreds of traditional boats, trying to steal a nibble. A moment later, they light a fire on the beach and grill the fish they scrounged. According to experts, unsustainable maritime economy poses a threat to lives of millions who depend on fishing for their livelihoods.


Honourable mention:

-        Adam Rostkowski, for Doctor

Yasmin lives in a rented room with her daughter and grandchildren. The Polish Centre for International Aid provides basic relief and medical aid to Syrian refugees. More than 1.5m refugees live in garages, empty flats and industrial buildings which cost them several hundred dollars per month.


-        Paweł Kęska, for King of Life

A village of Family Orphanages run by Caritas-Spes Ukraine. The six homes, each managed by a female tutor or a tutor couple, are inhabited by nearly 60 children. The living conditions are so good that they spark envy in local villagers.


In the Education and Entrepreneurship as Keys to Better Lives category:

I prize: Joanna Mrówka, for Street Ironing Point

This ironing facility which caters for local residents is tucked away in one of the narrow backstreets of India’s Varanasi.


Honourable mention:

-        Iwona Błędowska, for Exam reportage


Gisenyi, north-eastern Rwanda, is where girls and boys in a vocational school sit tailoring exams each year in October. After two-year studies and a passed exam, most students find employment at local clothing companies.


-        Olga Mielnikiewicz, for I Know, Mister

The Sharma family set up a Career Academy in the village of Jatwara, Rajasthan, in 2006. The biggest success of Varsha Sharma, a schoolteacher, wife of the school’s owner, and the only educated woman in the village, was in encouraging families to send their daughters to school. Right now, girls account for half of the school’s pupils.


In the Human Impact on the Environment category:

I prize: Mariusz Janiszewski, for Asia’s Tigers reportage



Asia’s cities are one big construction site. A massive influx of village population into large urban areas causes the horizon to be overshadowed by dozens of multistorey blocks of flats. Manila, the capital of the Philippines, is among such sprawling metropolises.


Honourable mention:

-        Maciek Iwaniszewski, for Cuban Smog

A season for burning sugar cane fields starts in Cuba, where the cultivation of sugar cane is an important branch of the economy and sugar is one of the major exports. During this time toxic smoke and darkness blanket large areas of the country.


-        Karolina Piątkowska, for In a New Home


The outskirts of Iquitos in the Peruvian Amazon are home to a few animal shelters. These are places for animals recovered from poachers, often wounded or maimed. This alligator lives in a small pool and will probably never be capable of living in its natural habitat.


The works sent in for this year’s edition carried a huge emotional charge, at the same time demonstrating high artistic value. The photos featured everyday life of people in developing countries. Some of the countries are covered by the Polish Aid programme. Thanks to the partnership with the National Geographic Poland magazine, the photographs will reach wide audiences across Poland.

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