Self-esteem is built on pain, suffering and moments of joy.

An e-mail entitled “Great Picks” was forwarded to me by a friend based in Ireland. The attachment in the e-mail showed the collection of photos by Pallav Khare with a sub-heading: Rare Historical Moments. The collection is truly instructive and a good material for reflection. A million thanks to Pallav Khare for the collection.

As a community organizer, I find Pallav Khare’s collection of humanity’s journey from one point of history to another a moving tribute not only to the efforts of ordinary men and women in defining society at a definite historical juncture and onwards but also to the contributions of world leaders that helped shape our world the way we see it today.

The photo of a child starving to death, in this collection, for instance , is an indictment of a global structure that has tolerated famine and powerlessness of the poor to happen. Why a society cannot protect its young from hunger is not a question directed to only one country. The question is directed to the human race. Kevin Carter (September 13, 1960 in Johannesburg – July 27, 1994), the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who took a photo of the starving child on July 27, 1994, was an award-winning South African photojournalist and member of the Bang-Bang Club. This club was a name primarily associated with four photographers active within the townships of South Africa during the Apartheid period, particularly between 1990 and 1994, the period when Nelson Mandela was released from jail to the 1994 elections.

Kevin Carter, it is told, must have been so affected by the photo of the child starving to deaththat he took his life in 1994. Below was the suicide note found after his death:

"I am depressed ... without phone ... money for rent ... money for child support ... money for debts ... money!!! ... I am haunted by the vivid memories of killings and corpses and anger and pain ... of starving or wounded children, of trigger-happy madmen, often police, of killer executioners...I have gone to join Ken if I am that lucky.” (Source:

The other photos of “Rare Historical Moments” put to the fore of individual and societal memory the different economic, political and cultural moments captured by photography for the continuing reflection, learning and evolution of communities and the global society as a whole. As self-esteem building is a process that is not separate from societal processes, the historical moments in a society’s life can make or unmake an individual. The same is true on the societal level.

This collection from Pallav Khare, forwarded from one e-mail to another and I suppose has gone around the world, is an instructive material for community organizers in the area of self-esteem building.

Go To Rare Historical Moments- part 2