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BORDER SEEN Impoverished children in San Benito chronicle their lives through photographs By JESSE BOGAN Anabel Guzman, 25, was. photographed early in the project inhaling spray paint from a cola can. The cans, sold fir $1 apiece, are called “poor man’s pot,” or “head cleaners.” It was unclear who took the: picture. Guzman shook badly and had trouble walking on her own. .”Because of spray 1 Can’t do anything fir myself” she said. Midway through-the project; she says, she quit inhaling. Her twiggy body filled out and she seemed to relax more. She insisted that her story be included in this report. Maria Davila, 37, a mother of three originally from Mexico, smiles as her 12-year-old son Joey hides behind her. Yadira Davila, 8, took this picture. 1..ittle distinguished the apartment complex amid the dilapidated frame homes and trailer parks in San Benito, a town of about 25,000 near Brownsville. A toy pony on springs, windows covered with aluminum foil, an old man in a wheelchair scanning the bushes for alumi num cans. There was all that. Particularly eye-catching one afternoon last fall were drying clothes stretched across lines on the complex’s long, second-story porch, near a posse of roaring kids. As I approached to take a picture, a teenage boy joked about what my camera might bring at a pawnshop. A slightly inebriated young woman flaunted a glass tube, as if the pipe were a powerful conch on this island of hardship. That day began a photography project lasting seven months. Called a “shoot back,” the idea was to enlist willing kids and adults to document life at the apartments using disposable cameras, and on a few days borrowed digital cameras. More than 700 images were shot, mostly by children. Their work is a visual trip into a world of innocence and innocence lost among people forced to accept their lack of means. 6 THE TEXAS OBSERVER JULY 27, 2007