stop but you are breaking free/ unaffiliated with silhouettes/ you find the wandering oblivion/ flashes cross the memories of lucidity with fire/


Tim Barrus (Director, Show Me Your Life & Sexwork; Founder, Cinemateque Films)

The problem of children living rough on the street looks pretty much the same around the world. There seems to be an entire generation of children who have raised themselves. Glue addiction is the most rapidly growing addiction in the world. It’s cheap and the high disguises cold and hunger. Umthombo is a South African NGO that deals with the street children of Durban. They have a dynamic surfing program that is unlike any program anywhere. Urban street children who get to surf. Umthombo gets children off the street. The children are often homeless, malnourished, and HIV positive. Yet they are survivors. We will give a group of these children video cameras; we show them how to use the camera and then we say: show me your life.

We know what it means for children who live on the street from an adult point of view. But we have never seen it from the child’s eyes before. I will work with these kids for a year of learning digital photography, and video. At the end of the year, we will print our own book, show our photographs, and make DVDs. The purpose of the project is to share the art and skills of self-portraiture in video with homeless street children. The idea is not classical journalism. The idea is to allow homeless children an opportunity for creative expression. The children have a sophisticated understanding of their lives in ways no social worker could ever know. Making the videos can be a powerful thing for reflecting on yourself.  We will exhibit the work on Real Stories Gallery — a conversation created by visual arts and stories, to shift perceptions surrounding HIV and AIDS.

Show Me Your Life will encapsulate the lives of children who live on the urban streets of South Africa in ways we have never seen before and cannot imagine today. In our promotional 'mashup' video below, I use the example of the San Francisco Arts Commission who conducted photography workshops for the homeless in skid row, in terms of how a successful program has worked before.


"Mash-up Witnesses of a Time and Place"

Real Stories Gallery would like to thank Cinematheque Films, Tough Sunday Productions, Pepperoni Pictures and everyone else whose significant film-footage of witness has been remixed to reflect the dynamic and collaborative ‘mashup’ of our lives today : SHOW ME YOUR LIFE.

Cinematheque Films : Arts Education: Students are allowed access to fair use art materials and mixed media in the teaching of iconic manipulation in photographic, video and film production. Representations and facsimiles posted here are presented as teaching tools and instruments employed to instruct students in the techniques and application of mixed media art and collage. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act allows art-teaching entities the fair use of such materials in classroom and teaching-research applications.


timothée barrus/ L’Afrique est un Endroit les Enfants Sont Vivants

I do not know what other film I could have constructed — other than the one I did — dealing in images of Africa. How can we see Africa without confronting the past. How can we go forward without seeing the children who will, indeed, go forward. For those who do not know the Umthombo children who are in this, know that they’re homeless, often addicted to sniffing glue, and know that it gets very mean out there; those are just cold, hard facts. How is it that they do not get included. There are people who care. There are people who care and act.

Our first filmmaker at Show Me Your Life, age 13, was Moise. Moise cared and he acted. Moise was murdered by soldiers in the Congo. I miss him. I miss his voice. I miss seeing his videos. They were always in awe of the lush green hills he lived in. This video is for him.

Thanks to Tom Hewitt at Umthombo, Durban; Mxolisis Sithole at Umthombo, Durban, Filmmaker; Rachel Chapple at Real Stories Gallery; David G (you’re so vain); Raymond; Quinn; Ashar; Hakeem; Kodak; Médecins Sans Frontières.




South Africa

kids at risk for

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)


WARNING: Explicit Imagery and Colloquial Language




Tom Hewitt, M.B.E. (co-Founder & CEO Umthombo Street Children)

Umthombo is an organisation based in Durban, South Africa that empowers street children and aims to change the way that society perceives and treats them. Umthombo’s model is pioneering the idea of providing alternatives to street life through engagement and therapeutic interventions and focuses on addressing the traumas associated with the children’s experiences. Our team fuses social working professionals and trained former street children to bring a unique understanding of the realities of the street child experience and a relationship of trust and respect with the children.  We also engage in advocacy around key issues that relate to street children.  Through campaigns Umthombo aims to demystify the urban phenomenon of street children, educate society as to the realities that these children face and to impact policy and decision making in relation to street children. Umthombo develops informed citywide strategy examples as a springboard to local debate and action.  We are a fully registered section 21 company and non-profit organisation, founded in 1998 and formerly called the Durban Street Team. In 2005 it was renamed Umthombo Street Children.  

Art For Humanity / Umthombo Banner Workshop:  Art For Humanity holds ‘Art and Poetry Workshops’ at Umthombo.  The boys (aged between 11-17) explore the words and images created by professional artists and poets on the theme of Human Rights and Social Justice.  They share their thoughts and dreams and voices, through the accessible ‘medium’ of visual poetry and in the context of ideas set written in 1948 to form the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


that pulls cold stone over cuts that tie the threads/ to you, to all your minutes/ conscious of disgrace, a life filled if only you would with your upturned eyes signal omens among the gathering of all your darker clouds/


in one somnambulant mystery after another/ your whispering was what had been the piercing of your eyes/ the discordant street/ under protest/ redeems the popular divides with spontaneous improvisation/

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