Giving Back The Photos At Twilight Children, Hillbrow

About a month ago, I had shared about a great experience I had in Hillbrow at a centre called Twilight Children.

We did a Help Portrait-like exercise with them then, and 3 weeks later, we returned to give back the pictures.

For me, this is my favourite part of the Help Portrait movement. The giving back. Nothing seals the bond faster between the recipients and us than when they realise that we actually kept our promise. And we had come back.

It never fails to warm my heart to see the kids hover over their own photos. The small smiles. The shy expressions. And the quiet pride in their eyes at their own images.

It is impossible to describe how gratifying we feel as the volunteers who have done this. I swear it beats selling a digital picture for big bucks for me.

I can’t stop harping about how great a movement Help Portrait is. How much hope, dignity and respect a single picture gives to an individual. Some of the recipients have never had a proper photo of themselves in their lives.

The older boys beamed with pride at the handsome faces in the photos.

Some boys said they were going to give their picture to their mother. Awww.. I can’t imagine a mother never ever having had a picture of her child or with her child.

This was a bunch of really great kids. We let a couple of them hold our cameras and they went wild. It was endearing to see them feel so proud of the opportunity to shoot with a DSLR and the way they held on so tightly and carefully with the gadgets.

This was the shot one of the boys took with our camera. We love it!

There’s a bunch of us who love doing the Help Portrait. And we are targeting to shoot portraits for 1,700 kids in Diepsloot in the next few months. We need to spend R5 (~SGD0.90) to print and mount each picture. And in the longer run, the way we have been managing the cost (i.e. on our own) is not sustainable. Especially since we are targeting to give out 25,000 portraits this year for the actual Help Portrait exercise.

I hate asking for cash contributions because I know it’s always harder for people to give cash than to give old clothes or blankets. But this is a really important mission. We need to raise funds so that we can keep doing what we do.

So, here I am.. asking for everyone to pause for a moment and consider contributing SGD5.00 or more. SGD5.00 will help us give up to 5 kids a photo of themselves. It is a huge deal.

SGD5.00 is half a movie ticket or a lunch meal to us. But it would give to many less privileged people out there a picture of themselves or of their family that they will cherish for life.

Please contribute SGD5.00 or more via local Singapore bank transfer. Kindly email me to inform me when you have made a contribution. All contributors will be kept updated on the usage of funds.

[Update – The only mode of contribution I can offer on a public platform at the moment is Singapore bank transfer. If you wish to contribute via other channels, please contact me. Sorry for the inconvenience caused.]


What is Help Portrait?

Watch this video. It says everything about what it is.

Help Portrait will be held on 8 December 2012 across the world.

In South Africa, you can register as a volunteer right away at Ubuntu Help Portrait.

All my blog posts on my involvement in Help Portrait are archived here.




  1. Hi Karen, please let me know when you’re planning to start shooting in Diepsloot. I really want to help.

    • Will do. Sign up as a Help Portrait volunteer to stay in the loop of all shooting sessions!

  2. It’s amazing how every photo managed to capture that precious and lovely smile of each individual. This post made me smile :)

    • Thanks Shinn. Please donate to help! Thanks!!

  3. Same as SHINN, this post make me smile and just donated :-) Its not much but hope it help :-)

    • Thanks Carol for your generous heart!

  4. just a suggestion… how about finding corporate sponsors? maybe a camera company or something? good marketing for them as well.

    • We do too. But the main organisers for Help Portrait do it (i.e. get corporate sponsors) for the actual movement once a year. We target to give 25,000 photos this year. The rest of us who are hardcore Help Portrait volunteers are doing this portrait giving on our own in the meantime before the actual movement starts and it’s not sustainable out of our own pockets. Thanks for the suggestion! Please help us! =p

  5. I am not a Singaporean and do not have credit card nor paypal, any others way to donate?
    well, I think I should borrow credit card from my sister.

    • I’m sorry Sheue Li. I can’t imagine how else you can donate. Donating by Paypal or bank transfer leaves an official transaction trace so that you won’t be in a vulnerable position too since this is a contribution out of good faith.

      • Oh, even credit card also not available now?

        • Sorry Sheue Li, Paypal Singapore doesn’t allow for collection of donations so I’ve removed the button.

  6. Hello Bing!

    I think it’s a really wonderful thing you and your team are doing. Just donated, not a big amount but I’m glad that I can also be a part of this! :)

  7. Can’t do the S’pore bank transfer but how about I just give you some cash next time I see you? Count me for a pledge of R200. And I’d also like to know when you’re going to shoot as I’d love to help. I used to be signed up with Help Portrait but somehow they split and now I’m not sure which one I should sign up for. Maybe you can send me an invite to the right one.

    • Thanks Gal! I’ll keep you posted on our shoots!

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