Eisie Awards Eyewitness Essay Winner.htm

H. C. Covington @ I CAN! America (@)
Sat, 29 May 1999 22:26:50 -0500

Eisie Awards Eyewitness Essay Winner

PHOTOGRAPHER: Antonin Kratochvil/SABA
PUBLICATION: Natural History
ISSUE: July, p 24-33
SUBJECT/TITLE: Mongolia- Out in the Cold

Like other nations emerging from communist rule, Mongolia has had to struggle
with new economic problems--including a burgeoning population of homeless
children. But while Mongolians are unused to dealing with homelessness, they are
even more unaccustomed to a free press that calls attention to their
difficulties. So when Antonin Kratochvil arrived to photograph the lives of some
of the country's suffering children (many no more than three years old, he says,
"abused and living in sewers"), he received intimidating news. "There was an
item in the paper saying, 'Foreigners are coming to talk badly about Mongolia,'"
he recalls. "They didn't understand that we were trying to help, so there was
carte blanche to beat up anybody with a camera."

Kratochvil's terrified translator suffered a nervous breakdown, but the
photographer persevered. The reason for his dedication: "I was a street child in
Prague after the communists took over. I was never quite homeless, but my family
spent five years in a reeducation camp. I was one of those kids running around
killing cats while my parents were being humiliated. That's why I do this sort
of work. I want to make a difference."

Indeed, Kratochvil's photos and the magazine text accompanying them were part of
an appeal to help Mongolia help its children, particularly through the efforts
of the Save the Children Fund (UK). "I think this story touched a lot of
people," says Kratochvil, "and I hope it touches them in their pockets."