December 15 @ 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm, 1st Floor, Corner Space, Bangkok Art and Culture Center (BACC)
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.
The launch of the photo exhibition will take place on 15 December 2020 at 5.30 – 6.30 pm, where the photographer John Hulme together with representatives from MMN and SEA Junction including invited speakers will give a brief talk on the observations encountered on the field and the perspectives derived from interacting with migrant workers. In addition, in the morning the Panel Discussion on “Protection of Migrant Workers Amid the Pandemic Downturn” will be held at Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT).
- John Hulme, Documentary Photographer
- Brahm Press, Director, MAP Foundation, Thailand and MMN Steering Committee, Chairperson
- Sai Aung Tun, Community Liaison Officer, Foundation for Education and Development (FED/MMN) Mae Sot District, Thailand
- A woman migrant representative
Moderator: Ms. Pranom Somwong
SEA Junction, established under the Thai non-profit organization Foundation for Southeast Asia Studies (ForSEA), aims to foster understanding and appreciation of Southeast Asia in all its socio-cultural dimensions- from arts and lifestyles to economy and development. Conveniently located at Room 408 of the Bangkok Arts and Culture Center or BACC (across MBK, BTS National Stadium), SEA Junction facilitates public access to knowledge resources and exchanges among students, practitioners and Southeast Asia lovers. For more information see www.seajunction.org, join the Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/groups/1693058870976440/ and follow us on twitter and Instagram @seajunction
Mekong Migration Network
The Mekong Migration Network (MMN), founded in 2003, is a sub-regional network of migrant support NGOs, migrant grassroots groups, and research institutes. The central goal of MMN is to promote the welfare, well-being, dignity, and human rights of migrants in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), and to build mutual support and solidarity among migrants and advocates within the sub-region. For more information, see www.mekongmigration.org.