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“I Want To Be” is a series of photographs taken by Laila Vaziralli, a professional photographer, in collaboration with the MANAV Foundation. Depicting the dreams, hopes and ambitions of individuals recovering from severe mental illnesses, the idea for the exhibition stemmed from the acknowledgement of the fundamental right to dream.

Never before has this right been questioned, never have we doubted it’s worthiness, irrespective of whether in reality our dreams come true or not. Moreover, to dream – big or small, is vital to our existence, integral to staying alive. With this in mind the clients of the MANAV foundation were told to dream, to dream ambitious, bold and brave dreams….

A variety of dreams emerged from this process… some were practical ambitions like the desire to work in an office or become a welder. Some were as simple as the hope to be a yellow flower. Several were “out of the box” and ingenious in nature, like becoming a foreigner or a DJ!

Using costumes, face paints, and props the clients were dressed up and photographed as they wished. A number of clients didn’t want to be recognisable, while others were unafraid to show their faces and thought it was important they tell society that they have an illness, just like any other illness, which is treatable and makes them no different from other individuals. All the photographs were taken at the Manav Rehabilitation Centre, so that the clients were in a comfortable and familiar environment. These images are intended to initiate a social conversation, leading to the elimination of stereo types and the stigma, which not only discriminates but mitigates the most basic right of all – the right to dream. Come and have a look and share in the dreaming…