Where Children Sleep


“When Fabrica asked me to come up with an idea for engaging with children’s rights, I found myself thinking about my bedroom: how significant it was during my childhood, and how it reflected what I had and who I was. It occurred to me that a way to address some of the complex situations and social issues affecting children would be to look at the bedrooms of children in all kinds of different circumstances. My thinking was that the bedroom pictures would be inscribed with the children’s material and cultural circumstances ‘ the details that inevitably mark people apart from each other ‘ while the children themselves would appear in the set of portraits as individuals, as equals ‘ just as children.” James Mollison, Photographer, Where Children Sleep


Nantio is fifteen years old and a member of the Rendille tribe in northern Kenya. She has two brothers and two sisters. Her home is a tent-like dome made from cattle hide and plastic, with little room to stand. There is a fire in the middle, around which the family sleep.Nantio’s household chores include looking after the goats, chopping firewood and fetching water. She went to the village school for a few years but decided not to continue. Nantio is hoping a ‘moran’ (warrior) will select her for marriage. (She has a boyfriend now, but it is not unusual for a Rendille woman to have several boyfriends before marriage.) First, she will have to undergo circumcision, as is the custom. Nantio’s status in life can be seen by the number of necklaces she wears and whether she also wears a white band, indicating that she has a boyfriend or that her menstrual cycles have begun.


Jivan is four years old. He lives with his parents in a skyscraper in Brooklyn, New York. From his bedroom window, he can see across the East River to New York’s Manhattan Island and the Williamsburg Suspension Bridge which connects it to Brooklyn. Jivan has his own bedroom with an en-suite bathroom and a toy cupboard. The room was designed by Jivan’s mother, who is an interior designer. His father is a DJ and music producer. Jivan’s school is only ten minutes’ walk away. To gain a place at this school, Jivan had to take a test to prove that he can mix socially with other children. He found this quite stressful as he is a very shy boy. His parents were also interviewed before he was accepted by the school. Jivan’s favorite foods are steak and chocolate. He would like to be a fireman when he grows up.

BRAZILAlex is nine years old. He lives in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  He does not go to school but spends his time begging on the city streets. He has found that the only way he can survive is to beg or steal. He admits that he sometimes steals from old people or from drivers waiting at traffic lights. As the drivers lean their arm on the window, Alex snatches the watch from their wrists. He is addicted to sniffing glue. Most of the time he sleeps outside, on an empty bench or discarded sofa if he can find one – otherwise on the pavement. Alexis still in touch with his family, and occasionally goes to see them to share a meal.