This work is the result of over twenty years of photographs taken during my journeys, photo reports and pinhole photo workshops around the world. Photographer and traveller, “a sculptor of images,” as I was called one day by a Touareg chief’s son, my path has been crossed by so many young people. So many images, so many disturbing scenes, cut to 24x36, have shaken my convictions. Thechildhere isnotking, muchless thecentreofthe universe. Faced with poverty, war, loneliness, abandonment, enrolment in a fight for survival from which he has little chance of escape, he struggles with no more than his own meagre means. An elderly peasant in Mali, to whom I confided one day that millions ofchildrenworldwide were not in school,replied, smiling: “Before going to school, you must be able to eat.” I’ve always been sensitive to the resourcefulness of kids in the face of adversity, their dignity and courage. Schoolboys without equipment, workers without machines, peddlers of everything and nothing, children of the streets and slums, young Palestinian refugees and Cambodian orphans… to all these young people, hapless heirs of a world so often unforgiving, I wanted to pay homage. Alexander, called “the engineer,” aged 12, makes copies of French military aircraft in the Central African Republic; Zakaria, 11, a rag-picker in Cairo, sorts trash in a shed, with only rats and flies for company; Yang, 6, gets up in all weathers at dawn, in the heart of China, to learn martial arts un- der the uncompromising eye of his master. From Benin to Cambodia, from Mauritania to Mexico, from Cape Verde to Haiti, from China to Egypt or Yemen… so many little hands joined in this long farandole of portraits. Portraits which unwind the thread of a memory that belongs to us all. In this world tour of children, childhood itself, sometimes, seems stolen, but it is never absent. Childhood, a wonderful country? à tous ces jeunes, héritiers infortunés d’un monde souvent impitoyable, j’ai voulu rendre hommage… To all these young people, hapless heirs of a world so often unforgiving, I wanted to pay homage.