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The Globe and Mail

Photos: India's school for outcaste girls through the eyes of the students

When the Globe and Mail visits Prerna school in Danapur, the girls have a special fascination with the photographer and her cameras. They have rarely been photographed by their families, and at most have seen low-resolution cellphone pictures of themselves. So the images - and the process - are of great interest. On our last visit, reporter Stephanie Nolen handed over her own Canon Rebel Ti camera - and before she could provide even rudimentary lessons in how it works, a group of students had snatched it up and ran off. They photographed frantically for the next three days and their own portraits offer a quirky window into their world. They took pictures of the most intimate scenes of life at school - clapping games and lice checks and hugs - but mostly what they wanted to photograph was each other. A few girls emerged as the most enamored of the camera, and they took hundreds of close-up pictures of their closest friends, as if determined to document that they are really there, that this magical transformative moment in their lives is really happening.

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Aarti’s self-portrait.

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The girls enjoy free time after class.

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The girls during karate practice.

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A portrait of Neethu.

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A portrait of Poonam.

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Priyanka sits with a group of friends.

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Rumi stands for a portrait.

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Kranti on left with Rashmi on her shoulder.

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Daulti, on left, with Phula, Rajmani (in yellow) and Nibha.

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Kavita clustered with other girls in the schoolyard.

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Chandrakanti, in orange, with other girls in the schoolyard.

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Chandrakanti in centre with Sindhu in the red scarf to her right and Dulari on the far right.

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A close-up portrait of Preethi.

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Sindhu, in centre, with Pinky (in blue) during a break in the schoolyard.

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Komal, on left, with Pratima.

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Simbal, on left, and Jyoti hug each other.

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Kushbu, in front, snaps a portrait with Ringi, in back.

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Daulti, centre, surrounded by her friends including Seema on the right.

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Rashmi with friends outside the school.

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Hanju, standing on right, with a group of friends.

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A group of girls are photographed together, from left: Neha, Baby, Poonam (bottom centre), Hanu and Aarti.

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Lakshmi sits with a friend's hands on her shoulders.

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A group of girls sit together outside, from left to right: Renu, Preethi (standing), Kranti, Sanpathi, Manto and Reena.

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Girls perform a quick check for lice after class.

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