The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is having an unprecedented impact on people’s lives around the world. Migrants in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) are among the most vulnerable to the present upheaval, given their limited access to healthcare, lack of job security and precarious immigration status. In light of the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak on the lives of migrants, Mekong Migration Network (MMN) is conducting an in-depth study that centres on migrants and returnees’ experiences in navigating and negotiating the evolving circumstances they were presented with. This study gives greater weight to migrants’ narratives and provides a textured account of the options migrant workers were presented with during the pandemic, the choices they made, and the consequences of these choices on their lives.
As a complementary component of this study, MMN is spearheading a visual storytelling project that aims to amplify the voices and stories of migrant workers in Thailand. Given the study’s primary objective of highlighting migrants’ narratives, it is imperative that migrants are provided the opportunity to express their stories in their own terms, as opposed to merely being an abstract data point. For this component, documentary photographer John Hulme traveled to Phang Nga, Mae Sot, and Chiang Mai to capture individual stories of resilience and humanity, featuring migrant workers from Cambodia and Myanmar who have migrated to Thailand in hopes of a better livelihood. The use of a participatory photoshoot combined with a storytelling element thus enables raw images, personal stories, challenges, and victories of migrant workers to be brought into the limelight.
A selection of these photographs will be showcased by MMN in collaboration with SEA Junction, on 15-20 December 2020 at the corner space, 1st floor, at a photo exhibition held at Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC). The exhibition provides a platform to showcase the images and stories of migrant workers taken on the field. It is our hope that these images by photographer John Hulme will serve not only to raise awareness of the lives of migrant workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, but also to build empathy by enabling the general public to look through the lens of another. We also hope that it will serve as a means to illustrate how complex systems, whether in relation to migration policies or social protection policies, can impact migrants’ lives, further initiating a discussion on existing problems and possible solutions.
Find out more at Sea Junction's website .