An Italian documentary photographer and multimedia journalist Alex Masi has come up with a photobook titled 'Bhopal Second Disaster' that documents traumatic aftermath of the Bhopal gas tragedy, especially focusing on the affected children and their daily struggle.
London-based Alex Masi came to Bhopal in 2009 to document how the affected children were coping with their physical and neurological disabilities. Here he met six-year old Poonam, whom he captured with "her face tilted up to taste the monsoon rain". That photograph won The Photographers Giving Back Award, inspiring Masi to create a Facebook page for those interested in Poonam's journey.
Talking about the intention behind the book, Masi writes on his website www.alexmasi.photoshelter.com, "With this series I strived to portray my subjects with intimacy, meaning and depth. I wanted to convey emotions, to stimulate our deeper and most innate feelings: justice, compassion and brotherhood, in the hope of becoming an active catalyst for the promotion of awareness, action and change for the people of Bhopal".
The first photo in the book is a wide angle shot of dark clouds hanging over the Union Carbide factory, for which he took over 200 pictures over three days to capture the gloominess caused by that location.
The photobook is the outcome of 2012 FotoEvidence Book Award, with an introduction by writer Indra Sinha and an interview in the back by Svetlana Bachevanova, photographer and publisher at FotoEvidence.
On his website, he also shares the photo journey of Poonam, titled 'A Better Tomorrow: Poonam's Tale of Hope in Bhopal'. The collection documents Poonam daily life in various moods and situations. On how he met Poonam, Masi writes, "I first photographed Poonam, refreshing under the rain on August 25, 2009.Poonam's oldest brother, Sachin, 18, paralysed from the waist down, is one of such victim... Wide shiny eyes match a sweet cheeky smile, some attitude, and a lot of hope and trust in the future. She wants to become a teacher, like the ones practicing in her new school. Born 'unlucky', with a tiny sixth toe on each foot, her father superstitiously believed she brought misfortunes upon the entire family".
Masi aims to support her education till class 12, while documenting her life and updating the same on his dedicated blog: <http://www.alexmasi.co.uk/poonam>. "Year after year, I intend to witness her blossoming into a teenager, an emancipated woman, and later into a loving wife and mother", he writes on his website.