361 views | Akpan Akata | December 11, 2019
The internationally acclaimed news photographer, Reza Deghati, is busy sharing his expertise, and his enthusiasm, with migrants returning to their African homeland after hard journeys abroad.
Deghati who began his celebrated career 40 years ago, after he left his native Iran said, “photography is a universal language which can help express feelings and convey emotions without using words.”
“Photography allows returnees to gain self-confidence and rediscover themselves”, he explained. “Learning how to take a good picture of their daily lives helps them value their life and show us their side of their own story.”
During the dates December 6-8, Reza Deghati worked in collaboration with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) which organized a three-day photography training event in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
Six young photographers participated in the training in the Ivorian capital.
After learning the technical aspects of photography, the participants trained their newly acquired skills by visiting reintegration and recreational activities organized by IOM for returned migrants and community members.
For instance, the participants attended a street art painting performed by returned migrants on the walls of a school rehabilitated by other returnees.
The aim of this pilot project was to offer returned migrants an opportunity to become visual storytellers of their daily life back home and help local journalists change the narrative on migration in the country.
“I couldn’t finish the first level of high school last year because I left for Algeria”, said 17-year-old Laciné who now is back at school as part of the reintegration assistance he received from IOM after returning to Côte d’Ivoire.
“For me, this training is a new start as it can help me show others what I have experienced and what I am experiencing without using words”, Laciné explained.
The training will be followed by three-month coaching by IOM photographer Mohamed Diabaté, and the photographs taken by the participants will be exhibited in Spring 2020.
“Learning photography means learning to look at the world in a different way”, Diabaté said. The IOM Côte d’Ivoire photographer and filmmaker added: “It also gives a new dimension to the returnees’ daily lives and it shows a reality that someone else cannot grasp. It enables us to see through their eyes.”
This training is the first of a series that will be organized by IOM across West Africa in 2020. It was organized in the frame of an EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in the Sahel and Lake Chad regions.
One participant, reporter Benjamin B., explained what he gained from the sessions with Reza Deghati this way: “As a journalist, I have a pen, and I can write. Words can explain reality. But the pictures will show it. If I have both skills, I can better write about migration.”