There are few pleasures more universal for children around the world than the joy of a new toy. But what those toys are, and how their owners play with them, varies as much as the cultures and communities they come from.
Italian photographer Gabriele Galimberti
began exploring the world of play when he set out on a two-year, 58-country tour of the world to document the phenomenon of "couch surfing" for an Italian magazine. Along the way, he started photographing his hosts' children.
"The first photo that I took was the daughter of one of my best friends in Tuscany. My friend asked me to photograph her child, so I went to their house, and she was playing with the cows. I really loved the result of that photo, and some months later, when I had the opportunity to start my trip around the world, I decided to take the same kind of photo in every country that I was going to visit."Toy Stories,
the resulting photo essay, took Galimberti to Kalulushi, a village in rural Zambia, where he met Maudy Sibanda, a 3-year-old with bare feet, a bright-yellow sundress, and a big smile. "It's a place where there is almost nothing: no electricity, no running water, and of course no toy stores! I was lucky enough to arrive in that village a couple of days after Maudy had found a box full of sunglasses on the ground along the main road. Her mother told me maybe they had fallen from a truck. All of the children of the village were playing with these glasses!" the photographer told Refinery29.
To date, Maudy's portrait remains one Galimberti's favorites. Ahead, he shares more of his stunning photos and the stories behind them with Refinery29.
Editor's note: Captions were provided by Galimberti. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Caption: Maudy was born in a hut in a small village close to the Zambian town of Kalulushi. She grew up playing on the street. There are no shops, restaurants, or hotels, and just a few children are lucky to have some toys. Maudy and her friends found a box full of sunglasses on the street, and from that moment, the sunglasses became their favorite toys.