Tuesday 24th March, 2020: The first day of the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson’s lockdown to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. In Central London the streets were abnormally quiet, it felt as if nearly all of society had been sieved away, and only the homeless were left on the almost deserted streets. London has an estimated 170,000 homeless.
Our Photos Tell StoriesPhotojournalism Workshop for IOM, in The Gambia, began last week with a group of young Gambian journalists, selected by the International Organisation for Migration. Our first day, spent in the classroom, included an introduction to photojournalism, and technical skills, with photographer and filmmaker, Jason Florio. He also shared his work of over 18 months aboard a rescue ship – for the NGO, MOAS – where he documented multiple rescues, in the Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea. IOM’s Communication’s Officer, Miko Alazaz, also presented to the class IOM’s ethics of interviewing and photographing returnees of ‘thebackway‘.
“Our workshop with photographers, and filmmakers, Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio, this week allowed photojournalists to learn both technical skills and migration dynamics in The Gambia—then headed out to gather empowering and dignifying photos of returnees.” IOM
For the remainder of the week, we headed out with the journalists to interview and photograph young Gambian’s who IOM had helped to come back home from Libya, to The Gambia.
Huge thanks to all the journalists involved in the Photos Tell Stories photography workshop – who have produced some incredible work, over the past week – and, to IOM for inviting us to present the workshop. Respect and gratitude, to all the returnees, their friends and family, who agreed to share their very personal stories with us, along with allowing the journalists to photograph them.
The journalists’ images will be part of a forthcoming IOM photography exhibition, about the returnees who they have aided with their reintegration back into Gambian society – more news on the exhibition date, coming soon.
A short documentary about the 56 West African migrants forcibly disappeared and killed in 2005 in Gambia by security forces on orders of ex-dictator Yahya Jammeh. The film follows Isaac Mensah, one of the victim’s sons, who shares the family’s account of how his father’s death/disappearance continues to take an emotional toll on the family; and his journey to more answers.
‘I Cannot Bury My Father‘ reflects on the need for a wider public conversation around migration, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and the issue of ensuring accountability.