Democracy Dies in Darkness

In Sight | Perspective

A home for fishermen's orphaned sons now offers hope to at-risk boys in Belgium

January 2, 2018 at 6:00 AM

Last year, The Washington Post partnered with Visura in an open call for submissions of photo essays. The Post selected three winners from more than 200 submissions. We present the final winner Tuesday — Brigitte Grignet and her photography entitled “Children of the Sea.”

Koninklijk Werk IBIS was founded in 1906 by King Albert in Ostend, Belgium, to offer a home and maritime school for orphaned boys whose fathers had perished at sea. Traditionally, the children would have been taken in by other fishermen’s families. That was a heavy financial burden, so the boys would often end up working in the fields. IBIS offered them a home and professional education, allowing the boys to follow in their ancestors’ trade and tradition of the sea.

Now, IBIS is a boarding school for boys dealing with difficult family situations, behavioral problems or neglect. They range in age from 6 to 16. The children attend primary school and then receive a maritime secondary education. They get room and board, a structure, social and emotional care and practical skills in a quiet and safe environment. For some, the school is their only home. While many children go back to their families on weekends, others rarely, if ever, return. Therefore, the school remains open year-round. Grignet was moved during the time she spent photographing at the school. “I found it to be a special place with a gentle quietness and order. Only when I photographed the boys playing in the snow was that solemnity broken,” she said.

More on In Sight:

Unexpected friendships between animals and their humans
Playful and poetic: The children of the Cheyenne River Reservation
These forgotten shreds of plastic helped a photographer mourn his mom

In Sight is The Washington Post’s photography blog for visual narrative. This platform showcases compelling and diverse imagery from staff and freelance photographers, news agencies and archives. If you are interested in submitting a story to In Sight, please complete this form.

MaryAnne Golon is the Director of Photography at The Washington Post. Before joining The Post in 2012, MaryAnne was the director of photography at Time Magazine and a senior photography editor there for more than 20 years. She graduated with honors from The University of Florida with a B.S. in Journalism.

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